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The Hammer and the Cross: A New History of the Vikings Hardcover – 5 Nov 2009


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane; First Edition edition (5 Nov. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0713997885
  • ISBN-13: 978-0713997880
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 733,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Ferguson was born in the UK in 1948 and left school in 1966. He worked at a number of jobs including postman, hospital porter, deckhand on a trawler, factory worker, cook, driver etc before enrolling at UCL, London in 1976 and taking a course in Scandinavian Studies. He graduated in 1980. In 1983 he emigrated to Norway and has made his home there since. He began his literary career as a radio dramatist, translating and adapting for radio works by Knut Hamsun and Henrik Ibsen for the BBC. He has also written eleven original radio plays and twice won the BBC Methuen Giles Cooper Award for Best Radio Drama, in 1984 and 1986. His first literary biography was Enigma: The Life of Knut Hamsun, which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Best Biography Award in 1987. It also won the University of London J.G.Robertson Award. In 1996 Enigma was dramatized as a 6-part television series by NRK (Norwegian State Television) As well as literary biographies and a history of the Vikings, Ferguson has written two novels, published only in Norwegian.

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Review

Ferguson adds another layer to our perception of our origins in this compelling and often poignant account of a pagan warrior society faced with Christianity on the march (Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert Ferguson is one of the world's leading scholars in Scandinavian studies. After studying in London under Peter Foote, co-author of the classic Viking Achievement, he emigrated to Norway in 1984. At the invitation of the Norwegian Government he has lectured on aspects of Norwegian and Scandinavian history and culture at embassies, universities and other cultural venues in St Petersburg, New Delhi, Mumbai, Oslo, Bergen, Prague, Warsaw, Riga, Edinburgh, Vasa, New York and at the Library of Congress in Washington. His previous books include biographies of Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun, and in 2002 his Viking Age novel Siste kjærlighet (Last Love), based on the 13th century Saga of Hallfred the Troublesome Poet, was published to critical acclaim in Norway. The Hammer and the Cross was written between 2002 and 2009 in Oslo and on the Isle of Cumbrae.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By valkyrie1008 on 9 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book is a brilliantly detailed, well researched, a laid out walk through from the earliest stages of the Viking era through to its demise not just at 1066 but in all the countries the Vikings made land fall and settled (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Iceland, Hebrides, Shetland, Greenland, North America, Istanbul and the Mediterranean, Russia etc) and of course their home nations of Scandinavia.
The brilliant thing about this book besides it great detail, research, anecdotes and use of archeological evidence and up-to-date findings is how Robert Ferguson examines the mythology and pagan religion of this mighty race of people and how it changed and adapted or in most cases became outlawed and faded away with the oncoming of Christianity. You meet the regular famous characters of this era, Ethelred the Unready, Alfred the Great, Guthrum, Ivar and Cnut etc but you also meet many other great historical power heads of the era not just from Britain but in any country that was invaded by the Vikings and their struggle to defeat and convert them from Marangian Kings to Holy Roman Emperors.
If anyone is interested in this era and of the Viking people then this book is for the keen learner and long-term researcher as it is a very long book due to its detail and knowledge but by the end of it you gain a new fascinating indepth insight into the world from so many different points of view.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By analogifier on 7 Feb. 2012
Format: Hardcover
The latest (when I write this) real info regarding the Vikings, and in such an essential read for anyone with this interest. I am really not fond of the way Vikings and Norse Mythology are becoming regarded as a more of an "Conan-Barberian Fantasy Warrior" type of phenomena, instead of the acrual thing - which is a perfectely fine and exiting culture already! The only thing that could have been better in my eyes, is the prose... a more flowing feel would have added to the experience. I recommend this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By vicky on 20 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Very good book for those with an intrest in the journey and progress of the norseman during the viking age. The author has a knack of seeing the world from the eyes of these people including religion, world politics and social values. This can be difficult to translate and often comes across with an emphasis purley on the violence of the culture rather than on the belifes behind the society and the reaction to christian religion.
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By Tellef Øgrim on 10 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Hammer and the Cross by Robert Ferguson offers perspectives to the viking age that were new to me. The teary that the first case of aggression was motivated by the gruesome treatment the Franks gave the non-christian tribes in the north of todays Germany is especially interesting.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Dec. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Whilst we have historical documents that survive long into the future from bygone era's the viewer has to read between the lines to try and gain a glimmer of the truth behind the events within as the whole veracity of the piece is dependent upon the author of the original document.

Perhaps this statement is no truer than for the life and times of the marauders from the North, the Vikings. Yet whilst we all know about their bloodlust as well their love of flighting (basically lying and daring others to challenge their honour), very little is actually known besides the basic history lessons that we're all taught at school

However, what is presented within this offering from Robert Ferguson, is an even handed view of the Norse Culture weighing their own writings against that of their opponents of the day to give the reader a book that is not only hugely engrossing but one that presents the reader with a more even handed representation of the historical context. Well researched, beautifully presented its an offering, that whilst pricey, is something that will be treasured for years by many readers and delved into time and again for either tip bits or inspiration. A great release from Penguin.
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21 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Ms. L. E. Spurr on 7 Feb. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This was a good read and gave succint, engaging explanations about who did what when and why during the Viking Age. Ferguson outlines the various arguments put forward by historians explaining why the Viking Age began in the first place - for my money the massacre of Heathen Saxons by Charlemagne must have played a major part in the triggering of violence and raiding by Germanic peoples (as well as the refining of shipbuilding - perhaps northerners were prompted to build bigger and faster ships as they felt the sting of an encroaching Christian empire which was aggressively expansionist?) No doubt loot was also a major pull to go out and raid, since as Richard Fletcher in his "The Barbarian Conversion" explains, monasteries in those days were also like a kind of bank where local wealth could be stored. In Germanic society as in many others, captured wealth, land and booty meant political clout since one could secure the loyalty of retainers through the tradition of gift-giving ("you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" is an attitude of ancient provenance in European politics!)
On reading Sean McGlynn's "By Sword and Fire - Cruelty and Atrocity in Medieval Warfare" I am put in mind of the possible similarities between the mindset of the later medieval Christian Crusader and the Viking raider as described in "The Hammer and the Cross". Where the Crusader seems to have had the thought "Let us go to Jerusalem and slay the Infidel - we'll win a whole stack of loot in the process and come home rich beyond our wildest dreams! (Oh yeah, and we'll win an automatic ticket to heaven!
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