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The Vikings: Revised Edition Paperback – January 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0140252828 ISBN-10: 0140252827 Edition: Revised

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The Vikings: Revised Edition + The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings (Hist Atlas) + A History of the Vikings
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Revised edition (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140252827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140252828
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,501 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

A survey of Viking civilization, originally published in Denmark (1987), concentrating on the period c.750-c.1050. One chapter covers sources, and about one-third of the book deals with Viking expansion into Russia, Normandy, the British Isles, Iceland, Greenland, etc. (Only a few pages touch upon activities in North America.) Most of the book surveys the geography, people, society, religion, art, etc., of the Vikings' Scandinavian homelands, stressing the complexity of their civilization. The Vikings is a sober, factual, accurate, though somewhat pedestrian account accessible to laypersons and reflecting recent scholarship. Public or academic libraries needing an up-to-date (post-1980) survey should acquire it. Roesdahl is the author of Viking Age Denmark (State Mutual Bk., 1982)-- J.F. Husband, Framingham State Coll., Mass.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Danish

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I would highly recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in Viking history.
Susan Zuckerman
I've reviewed a number of books on Vikings and their times and regard Else Roesdahl's as one of the best.
Ron Braithwaite
While they provide a great deal more depth in their areas, they lack some of the bigger picture.
Christopher R. Travers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

175 of 177 people found the following review helpful By Susan Zuckerman on April 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I loved the first edition of this book, and this revised edition is even better, incorporating much new archaeological evidence. As a historical fiction writer, currectly writing a novel about the Vikings, books like this are invaluable to me. This is my #1 reference book. Not only does it contain a tremendous amount of information, Roesdahl has organized it exceptionally well, such that it is always easy to find exactly what I'm looking for. As a read-through book, I also found it captivating and not in the least bit dry. Replete with maps, diagrams and photos, it is an invaluable learning tool for anyone interested in this time in history. One of the aspects I particularly appreciate is that Roesdahl has a Scandinavian perspective, viewing the Vikings as a legitimate Norse civilization, with a vibrant, artistic, agricultural and exploratory culture, more than as pagan invaders of the rest of civilized Europe. Yes, there were some ruthless invaders amongst them, but many writers are too focused on that aspect. The book starts with a look at the sources of information we have about the Vikings, the written sources, place names and archaeological evidence. Knowing the sources on which our knowledge is based is extremely important, so we won't be so readily hoodwinked into believing faulty interpretations. Roesdahl then looks in excellent detail at Scandinavian geography, people, language, history, religion, art, etc. A wonderful feel for the times and culture is gained. The next focus is Norse expansion, their conquests and settlements in Britain, Russia and the Baltics, and west to Iceland, Greenland and North America. Finally, she concludes with the lasting significance of these Norse peoples and the so-called Viking Age. I would highly recommend this book to anyone seriously interested in Viking history.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Tim F. Martin on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
_The Vikings_ by Else Roesdahl was a fairly thorough if sometimes a little dry account of the Viking Age, a time that lasted about 300 years, from just before AD 800 until well into the 11th century. The Vikings were a tremendously influential people, playing a decisive role in many areas of Europe; their mark is still seen today in numerous loan-words in the English language; many place-names in Normandy and the British Isles; in Ireland, where they founded the island's major towns; and in Iceland and the Faeroe Islands, where they settled.

Roesdahl took great pains to show that the classic image of the Vikings as raiders, pirates, and plunderers was one-sided, a one-dimensional view that comes to us today from contemporary clerics in Western Europe (who may have been reacting more than anything to the pagan religion of the Vikings) and in tales that were elaborated on by medieval story tellers and historians, including among the Scandinavians themselves, such as with the Icelandic saga writers. Indeed in mainland Europe at least the author felt that the impact of the Viking raids have been exaggerated, and it generally made little difference if a community was plundered by the Vikings or by some other local faction. The Vikings were also farmers, merchants, poets, artists, authors, artisans, engineers, explorers (the first Europeans to discover Iceland, Greenland, and North America), and settlers as well as warlords and mercenaries (the latter notably in Ireland and in the Byzantine Empire).
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Julia Rampke on November 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
I am not a scholar. I do love to learn about other cultures, however, and am fascinated by Norse and Viking life. Else Roesdahl gives everybody the chance to learn the truth about the Vikings. This is an excellent book for home study!
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55 of 63 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Roesdahl's work has allowed me to see the Vikings as much more than a band of maruading pirates. -Much more than actors who appear in the annals of history to relieve the monotonoy of un-inspired court tomage, the task of reconstructing Viking culture is related in a rich and fascinating adventure. This Roesdahl translation relates how the Vikings, far from being merely a sea-fairing chapter of the "Hells Angels", actually had many customs, artifacts, and lands that can be equated into the european calendar using dendrochronology. With so many "viking values" being adopted by modern man, this work is invaluiable to understand where our world is going, as well as where it has been. I just wish that I could put a copy of it on my web-site!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Der Hammer des Kuchens on December 27, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book covers just about everything about the vikings from their language, art, religion, government, ships, clothing, expiditions all over Europe, weapons and warfare, homes and other aspects of these northern people. The author opens up your eyes to the fact that the vikings were civilized just as much as other people in those times which helps give you a new respect for these people. It's just amazing how these people went all over Europe, the Middle East and all the way to North America centuries before Christopher Columbus and spread their culture and in turn took apsects from other cultures back to Scandinavia.

There are maps which shows where the vikings travelled and there are a bunch of pictures of weapons, ships, burial mounds, artwork and rune stones. There are also two rune alphabets that they used for writing.

Some things I didn't like was that some of the subjects were rushed through and not too informative as they could have been like very little is mentioned about the military aspects of the vikings like offensive and defensive tactics whether it be about a king's army or raiding pirates. They also don't mention that much about the vikings in North America or the Middle East which I found to be very disappointing to say the least. I guess that there was so much to cover that the author couldn't fit everything in.

Overall this is a good introductory book about the vikings at a very low price. So if you want to read about the true vikings and not stereotypes about vikings being mindless, dirty heathen killers wearing horned helmets then you should get this book.
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