The Vikings: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The Viking reputation is of bloodthirsty seafaring warriors, repeatedly plundering the British Isles and the North Atlantic throughout the early Middle Ages.

Yet Vikings were also traders, settlers, and farmers, with a complex artistic and linguistic culture, whose expansion overseas led them to cross the Atlantic for the first time in European history.

Highlighting the latest archaeological evidence, Julian Richards reveals the whole Viking world: their history, society and culture, and their expansion overseas for trade, colonization, and plunder.

We also look at the Viking identity, through their artistic expression, rune stones, their ships, and their religion. The Viking story is also brought up to date, by examining their legacy from the medieval Icelandic sagas to 19th Century nationalism, Wagner, and the Nazis.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area.

These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 168 pages, numerous maps and halftones
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: European history
  • ISBN: 9780192806079



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

I found this book with a bookmark in the middle, probably indicating that I'd read a substantial portion of it years ago, but I still started back at the beginning because I had little to no recollection of that. While this does broadly cover the history and settlement patterns of the Vikings, I'd hoped to get more of Viking culture and tradition out of it, so it was a bit of a mismatch between expectations and reality. Still, it was an interesting survey, and I particularly liked the 'Reinventing the Vikings' chapter that explored the 19th–21st century rebirth of interest in the Vikings and confronted some of the racial issues tied up in that.

Review by

Another VSI I'd kinda like to change the title of: "The things the Vikings left behind. And where they left 'em."I really am undecided as to whether I like this book or not.Richards puts some effort into countering other people's strange notions of who the Vikings were, but that leaves me where I don't quite seem to get a feel for <i>who</i> the Vikings were. What their daily lives were like. I suppose maybe pretty much like anyone else's lives back then, but still...I'm left with a distinct feeling that Richards assumes I already know a bit about the Vikings, which I don't really. Which doesn't fit in under the title "A Very Short Introduction" I think.Still I'm giving it 4 stars for the benefit of my doubt.

Review by

This is a fine, sophisticated overview that draws on numerous new archaeological discoveries. It's a nice antidote to the stereotypes.