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The Vikings

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  599 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Book Club Edition (no ISBN)
'An utterly splendid book, quite the most brilliantly written, balanced & explanative general work on the Vikings ever to appear in English or in any language.'--Scandinavian Studies
This book's covers the Viking realms of Denmark, Sweden & Norway, their civilization, culture & manysided achievements at home & abroad. A highly re
Hardcover, 490 pages
Published 1997 by Folio Society (first published 1968)
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"...the temptation is strong to offer generalizations about the viking himself, produce a 'typical' figure, and prop him against the museum wall with his catalogue number and descriptive label. It is a temptation to be resisted because of its limiting and misleading consequences. Harald Hardradi, who waged war from Asia Minor to Stamford Bridge for thirty-five years, was a viking; so was his father Sigurd Sow, who stayed at home and counted haystacks. Hastein, who led the Great Army of the Danes ...more
Bryn Hammond
A dream of a history book: deep, detailed, never a moment's boredom, and, ta-da, with writerly touches. I have a huge gratitude for writerly touches (wit, humour, art spent on a sentence) in non-fiction, that doesn't often bother to be a writer too. It makes the research swim by when you have them nuggets to look forward to.
This is a detailed and comprehensive history of the Viking Age, an excellent resource for those wishing to learn more about this fascinating and important era. He covers the origins of the Scandinavians in pre-history through the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 CE. His discussions are broad and encyclopedic, covering political history, explorations, art, religion, and the daily life of the people. I found the book to be an excellent complement to Kenneth Harl’s Teaching Company Course, The Vi ...more
Erik Graff
May 21, 2013 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Viking fans
Recommended to Erik by: Einar Graff
Shelves: history
This book serves as a very good general introduction to the history of the Norse from legendary times to 1066.

Interestingly, despite having visited some of the sites mentioned and except for children's books on the subject and the occasional article, I think this was only the first or second real book I ever read about my putative ancestors. They are rather embarrassing.
Solid introductory history, longer and more detailed than for instance The Vikings in History with fairly lengthy quotes in translation from the source material on the Volga Vikings in particular. Deeply OK if probably a bit dated now. For something with a more rounded perspective taking in daily life I would recommend Else Roesdahl's book The Vikings.
Lauren Albert
Immensely readable, well-written account of the history of the vikings. Jones is addicted to analogies and metaphors and they do help to make the vikings and those who encountered them more "present." My favorite:

"Ireland, England, France were the vikings' Mexico, with learning, arts, wealth, and a civilization superior to those of their northern conquistadors, and a similar inability to defend themselves from a numerically inferior but mobile and energetic foe." 200

She shows that they were not
In the interests of full disclosure, I didn't finish this book but I tried very hard, I'm marking it off as read as I'm never going to finish it and I don't like seeing it constantly sitting on my To Read shelf... So many people had said good things about it and I was really keen to learn some history of the Vikings and this book seemed appropriate to that!

It was written a while ago and the language reflects that but I could cope with that element. What I really struggled with was the discursiv
A very lengthy and detailed historical book, I learned a lot from it. The organization of this book is somewhat odd as it breaks into large chapter-chunks various topics based on themes, regions, time periods, etc. It was not chronological and not rigid in its chapter makeup. It was sort of an odd way to break up chapters and made the book difficult to read at times because there was never a sense of progression, you feel as if you are hopping ceaselessly from one topic to the next without knowi ...more
A fairly detailed and very informative history of the Viking age. Jones balances history with historical theory, legend, and anecdotes to make an incredibly accessible and easy to digest book.

I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone without some basic knowledge of Europe as a whole in this period, but Jones does a good job at providing context while staying in the bounds of the 'Vikings'. And there is a real sense of enthusiasm and excitement about the way this book is written
Steve Bivans
This is a very good overview of the Viking Age. I have used it as a textbook for a couple of college courses. My one critique is that Jones chose to break up the chronology a bit too much, in order to delve into topics, but that's mostly a pet peeve of mine. All in all, a very good book on the subject.
D.R. Pitcock
A thorough account of the Viking Age through what records written records exist and Numismatics. Very thorough but also interesting enough not to put you to sleep.
Christy P
A very complete and detailed book. A text book - tons of information. Apt to be hard to plow through. Interesting.
Czarny Pies
Sep 05, 2014 Czarny Pies rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in European History
Recommended to Czarny by: My sisiter
Shelves: european-history
This is an excellent survey history of the Vikings which may never be superseded. Gwyn Jones managed to learn the entire plethora of languages in which the source documents were written (for example old and middle Welsh). It is not clear that there will ever be another scholar willing or able to learn all these now highly obscure tongues. Archeological finds continue to be made but given that the Vikings built with wood rather than stone, what is found is frequently not very enlightening.

Gwyn Jo
Marc Boisseau
Informative but a painful read.
Christopher Hivner
Read this some years ago. It is a very well researched and detailed account of the 300 years when the Vikings were the most feared men in the world. There are accounts of the lives of some of the most famous Vikings as well as cultural facts, and a deep historical study of where the Vikings traveled and settled as well as theory into why. This is a scholarly work and one of the best books on the Vikings I have read
Dry, and older. Still serves as a solid introduction to Scandinavia from 793-1104ish. When Jones becomes the most engaged with the subject, his/her writing can become a little unclear. It's hard to figure out when in history events take place. But, Jones clearly loves the Viking Age and some passages are splendidly funny.
A great read on the history of Vikings, it should still be considered the standard history. The problems it has are two fold. One, the author passed over ten years ago and he missed several important archaeological development. Lastly, this is not a casual read, this shit is hardcore scholarly work.
Jan 13, 2014 kelly marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: living-room
my copy is hard bound, (c) 1968
Sarah Schanze
Some parts were hard to get through, mostly the chapters focusing on specific people. A lot of names get thrown at me and I can't always keep everyone straight, and I'm much more interested in the everyday life of people in this time period than in all the people (men, really) in charge.
gd! this was a difficult read. it should have been titled, 'everything known about the vikings pounded into a single dense text' with a subheading 'you will never keep track of all the nigh-identical norse names for people and places'.

i should have read 'intro to vikings' first.


I liked it. A fast paced review of Viking conquests and culture. I enjoyed Jones' writing style but at times it did come off very stuffy and too scholarly. However, the 3 chapters on Scandinavian culture were outstanding and detailed. I'd recommend it.
Interesting book about the Norseman. They were better business man than previously though as well as fearsome warrior plus including details about the bleak landscape of the frigid north of Europe in place such as Norway and Sweden as well as Denmark.
Steve Bennett
I love the Vikings and this in my opinion is the most comprehensive and scholarly book on the Vikings so I of course loved it. The writing is rather dry but what the hell. The sections on Viking culture were particularly good and rather funny.
Jaime Contreras
This is one of the oldest andstill best books on the Viking society and world. It has laid the groundwork for many of the later books and is used by many novelists as the reference book on the Nordic people of old.
The best book about the Vikings, by the expert in the subject. I have a Folio edition version of this, with serpents and runes inlaid on the spine and cover. I don't know how I got through so many books...
Sergiy Svitlooky
Engaging perspective of the vikings era and their place in the history. Little too detailed and tough at times but anyways good.
I'm not really finished with the book but I'm finished with it for now. I'll rate it when I've finished with it.
I found a copy of this in a used bookstore and took it on a winter retreat to the cabin. I found myself engrosed.
This is the only book about the Vikings that you need to own. It has it all...and that's a lot of info!
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Neil
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Goodreads Librari...: ISBN for an old book 2 19 Nov 22, 2014 01:45AM  
  • The Vikings
  • The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings
  • Viking Age Iceland
  • Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga
  • Heimskringla: or, The Lives of the Norse Kings
  • The Anglo-Saxons
  • Anglo-Saxon England (Oxford History of England)
  • The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings
  • Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
  • Women in the Viking Age
  • The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America
  • The Celts (Penguin History)
  • The Vikings
  • Seven Viking Romances
  • The Sagas of Icelanders
  • The Northern Crusades
  • Western Europe in the Middle Ages 300-1475
  • The Making of the Middle Ages
Professor of English from 1940, writer, translator and academic. Chairman of the Welsh Arts Council, CBE, holder of the Knight's Cross of the Order of the Falcon (1963) and the Commander's Cross (1987) of Iceland.
More about Gwyn Jones...
Eirik the Red and Other Icelandic Sagas (World's Classics) The Mabinogion The Norse Atlantic Saga: Being the Norse Voyages of Discovery and Settlement to Iceland, Greenland, and North America Scandinavian Legends & Folk-Tales Welsh Legends And Folk Tales

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