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The Vikings by Johannes Brønsted
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The Vikings (1960)

by Johannes Brønsted

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I have a fondness for these old Pelicans -- they don't talk down to the reader, but always seem to have an air of telling you "everything you really need to know" about the subject in a businesslike, straightforward sort of way.

This one is terribly out of date, of course -- I'm not an expert by any means, but even I know that a lot of archaeological work has been done in the fifty-odd years since the book was written. Professor Brøndsted gives a useful, compact account of the history of the Viking period in the first half of the book, and in the second half summarises what we know from literary and archaeological sources about life in the Scandinavian countries at the time.

Limitations: as usual, Penguin have been mean with the illustrations, and the book would have benefited greatly from more maps and diagrams. The translation is at times a bit stilted, although generally readable enough.

Obviously, a book of this length has to leave a lot out. For my taste it was a bit thin on language and literature and heavy on archaeology, but that's fair enough given the author's background. One thing I really missed was a proper discussion of Viking seafaring -- there were brief notes on the ships found in burial sites, but very little on how they were sailed and navigated.
2 vote thorold | Jun 2, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Johannes Brønstedprimary authorall editionscalculated
Skov, KalleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A thousand years ago in the churches and monasteries of northern France was heard the prayer: 'From the wrath of the Northmen, O Lord, deliver us.' This prayer was amply justified.
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