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Laughing Shall I Die: Lives and Deaths of the Great Vikings

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  74 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Laughing Shall I Die explores the Viking fascination with scenes of heroic death. The literature of the Vikings is dominated by famous last stands, famous last words, death songs, and defiant gestures, all presented with grim humor. Much of this mindset is markedly alien to modern sentiment, and academics have accordingly shunned it. And yet, it is this same worldview that ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 15th 2018 by Reaktion Books
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Julie Davis
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shippey begins by explaining that in the Vikings' own language, Old Norse, the word "viking" meant pirate or marauder. Most Scandinavians were not Vikings, though most Vikings were Scandinavians. Academics have been portraying Vikings as if they were just misunderstood Scandinavians.
Academics have laboured to create a comfort-zone in which Vikings can be massaged into respectability. But the Vikings and the Viking mindset deserve respect and understanding in their own terms — while no one
Charles J
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In these days where man is held to be homo economicus, we are told that all people are basically the same, and what they want, most of all, is ease and comfort. Real Vikings prove this false. Instead, they reflect back to us a strange combination of very bad behavior and until-the-last-dog-dies virtue. Tom Shippey wants to talk about those real Vikings, not the sanitized ones who were supposedly much like us, just colder. If you read this book, therefore, you’ll get the Vikings in all their ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
È così ricco di contenuti che non mi basterà una lettura per apprezzarne il valore.
Wesley Fiorentino
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shippey's book is a fantastic work of scholarship that is also an accessible read. The author effectively challenges the commonly held notion of the Viking Age as stretching from roughly 800-1066 or so and accurately notes that viking-like activity is recorded centuries earlier. Shippey also demonstrates that the 'viking imaginary,' or our popular notions of who vikings were and what they did, do not always square with the reality of their situations. What follows is a fascinating examination of ...more
Kari Janine
Aug 18, 2019 rated it liked it
This subject is of great interest to me, so I can’t bring myself to rate this lower. The obvious research and scholarship of the author also merit at least the average rating. I cannot go any higher.

After reading many of the original sagas, I was hoping for more insight. This was essentially a retelling, in no discernible order. The narrative did not flow at all. I felt bounced around from story to story. Even worse, the chapters were peppered with “as I’ve told you before...”, and “more on
Berni Phillips
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was aware of Shippey by his reputation as a Tolkien scholar. I was not aware how readable he was for non-scholars. (He does say upfront that this book is aimed at more of a general audience.)

This book is packed with much historical information but Shippey keeps it light and amusing at times with his asides and reference to pop culture. He refers to the Vikings TV show a number of times (mostly to point out where they get things wrong) as well as the classic Kirk Douglas movie and many other
Joel Zartman
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Tom Shippey knows what he's talking about, does it without pedantry, and even knows, in his deployment of the resources of language, when and how to use slang. If more scholarship were of the Shippey variety, our knowledge would be more accurate and achieved by more interesting means than it sometimes, unfortunately, is.

In this book he again corrects the world. When this age passes, he will be held in very high regard.
Tim Renshaw
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts and ends strong for us not in the Norse history academic world.

Starts and ends strong for us not in the Norse history academic world. The middle part got a little bit too technical and in depth on facts about which I didn't care as much as the overall history. but for those actually in the field I'm sure the entire thing is very riveting.
Oct 03, 2019 rated it liked it
A good overview of the Eddas and the Sagas. Much of Shippey's premise that the Vikings excelled during the Viking Age was due to their world-view is something I've taken as truth for so long that his argument seemed superfluous to me. Other readers will undoubtedly think otherwise.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Started well and at times rather engaging. But I have no idea why the author felt it necessary to name drop Tolkien and link back to Game of Thrones through the book.

Maybe it was just me but the sideways description of the myths got confusing as well.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Takes highly motivated reader as it is difficult to keep straight multiple names for each individual that all look alike. But interesting take on the Vikings -- A death cult in which even the GODS die in at the end times.
The Mole
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent scholarship, rich explanations, and highly readable! What's not to love!
Arild Stromsvag
Mar 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love the way Shippey writes about fairly complex matters, and the book definitely provided food for thought and new insights. Highly recommended!
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining and exactly what popular history should be.
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 900
I think they would have liked Lada.
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Publishes as T.A. Shippey and Tom Shippey.