The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution and prided themselves on their bloodthirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their extraordinary story. For over two hundred years between the end of the eighth century and the middle of the eleventh, these Scandinavian tribes became the greatest adventurers the world had yet seen. Perhaps the greatest there will ever be. Their restless voyaging in elegant timber long ships would grant them a territory stretching from Iceland in the north to the Mediterranean Sea in the south, from Newfoundland in the west to Constantinople and the Caspian Sea in the east. They were warriors and mercenaries of international renown, even the bodyguards of choice of the Byzantine emperors; they were colonisers, builders and engineers who helped shape the destinies of almost every land they touched. The way modern Europe looks and sounds today is due in no small part to Scandinavian men and women who turned their backs on their homelands and set sail for distant horizons. Drawing on the latest archaeological and scientific discoveries, Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings. Where did this mysterious people emerge from? How did they really live? And just what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over a thousand years ago? Vikings reveals the surprising answers to these questions, in the epic story of one of history's greatest empires of conquest.
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Neil Oliver is a Scottish archaeologist, historian and broadcaster best known for his distinctive voice and long black hair and as the charismatic presenter of the award-winning documentary series Coast. His 10-part 'bold, pugnacious and authoritative' History of Scotland on BBC2 was a critical success as was the book of the same name that accompanied it. Find out more at www.neiloliver.com, follow him on Twitter @NEIL_OLIVER_ and join on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Neil-Oliver.From Publishers Weekly:
Inextricably tied up with the history of others—Romans, Britons, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Picts, Gauls, and Gaels—the Vikings have long been portrayed through their contemporaries&' eyes. Not the scholarly type, the Vikings left only scant runes as their written record. Scottish archaeologist and historian Oliver takes clues from their contemporaries, burial remnants, and other cultural activities to tell their story. Instead of assuming the perspectives of the terrified writer of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, or Alcuin, or the Venerable Bede, or Tacitus, he takes the opposite point of view. And though one might question the objectivity of an author so clearly enamored with his subject, the result is a fascinating tale of explorers, chieftains, warlords, and a resourceful, stalwart people of immense seafaring prowess. Beginning before the sacking of Lindisfarne in C.E. 793, Oliver details their exploits from Kiev to Newfoundland, and the startling way they may have affected the Battle of Hastings in 1066—thereby changing the course of history—all of which makes for riveting reading. Though the book&'s organization is somewhat choppy, anyone interested in finding out more about these real-life raiders will enjoy everything Oliver reveals. Agents: Eugenie Furness, Furniss-Lawton (UK); Sophie Laurimore, Factual Management (UK). (Oct)
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