26th out of 109 books — 25 voters
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The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings
by Peter Sawyer
Were the Vikings, as contemporary description had it, a valiant, wrathful, foreign, purely pagan people who swept in from the sea to plunder and slaughter? Or were they unusually successful merchants, extortionists, and pioneer explorers? This book, by international scholars, considers the latest research and presents a picture of the Vikings and their age.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 26th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published November 13th 1997)
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May 03, 2010 Libby rated it 5 of 5 stars · review of another edition
Who doesn't get a thrill when they think "Vikings"? Adventure, far traveling, exploration, treasure, all are associated with these Norse seafarers. Then there is looting, pillaging, plundering and taking slaves. Whatta buncha guys! However, a serious look at the civilization of the Vikings reveals much more than jolly adventurers, or pirates in long ships. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings will give you a look at the trading networks, land-holding practices, physical environment and ...more
A broad overview of the Viking Age, this often reads like a mix between a coffee table book and a text book. But you know what? I'm down with that. There's a wealth of interesting things to be learned in this book, and it is full to bursting with complimentary images and maps. Since I am American, these things make reading seem happier. Anyway, a good place to start if you want to wade into the historical accounts of the Vikings.
Sep 12, 2012 Maja rated it 3 of 5 stars
I like this book as an introduction to viking raids, but it does not really work as a general introduction to vikings as a people and the viking age. There really isn't any chapters about who the vikings were, why they were vikings and why the viking age is an era. It was, however, a really good book if you're only interested in vikings raids as the defining aspect of the vikings, then this book is what you're looking for.
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Vikings is a compendium of essays by a number of scholars on various times and aspects of Viking culture. So there is some repetition of facts, if not of inferences drawn from those facts. The authors are clear writers, the illustrations are interesting but the book as a whole didn't hang together.