The word viking is beginning to mean less and less when describing the Scandanavian cultures during the 900's.Alot of viking villages are set up to protect them from the vikings?The Anglo-Saxon kings of england were one time officialy listed as "sea-raiders"and almost every tribe in europe who had acess to a river or sea engaged in trade and (piracy).This book is lively and uses alot of sources from the period some of them so ribald they rate a PG,particularly those "men at sea" tales.I hadn't known some of those jokes were that old.When I first saw a picture of a colorfully painted viking boat in the Bayeux tapestry,I thought it must have been an artists rendition,but from reading this book I realize the pictures are actual,because the vikings took such pride in their crafts that included elaborate carvings and richly colored vessels.But as the author says,it would be one thing to reconstruct a viking boat,but could one ever reconstruct a real viking crew. Not in this day and age,the best we could come up with would be a bland imitation probably."Viking" towns were really loose confederations of families and tribes and there was no mass swarm of population by a powerful Viking government (due to Scandavian lack of birth control)onto a terrorized cringing Europe.The archaeological evidence put forth by this author shatters alot of the "Viking trading centers of power" theses I've previously read.The populations of these towns were small and there were no major viking cities to rival Rome.All the populations centers were located along the coastal areas.It seemed to me that the Scandanavians really became a great people when they mixed and adapted to the indiginous cultures already established in the areas they settled.After a read of this book a person would have to be very skeptical of those miraculous conversions of pagan Viking sea -kings to Christianity and all the bells and whistles of divine ecstasy. Seems that the Norse were quick to see "a hawk from a handsaw" and could sniff out political opportunity as it arose.The conversion to Christianity was not overnight but over generations (with pagan lapses) as the European political wind blew.When the (Viking?)Northmenadapt the Roman and Frankish culture they make something unique--the Normans-such a mixture of art,industry,law, and brutality,it still astounds.