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The Viking Blitzkrieg: AD 789-1098 Paperback – 12 Jun 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press (12 Jun. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752467999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752467993
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 311,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

MARTYN WHITTOCK is responsible for Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development at Kingdown School, Warminster, and for twenty years was Head of History there and the author of thirty-six history titles, including The Origins of England, 410 - 600 (1986), A Brief History of Life in the Middle Ages (2009) and A Brief History of the Third Reich (2011). He lives in Wiltshire. HANNAH WHITTOCK read Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic at Cambridge University and completed her Masters there in Anglo-Saxon history in 2012. She now works for the Devolved Welsh Government. Her published works include papers on the Annexation of Bath into Wessex and the Anglo-Saxon frontier of north-western Wiltshire (2012).

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 July 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The theme of the authors in this book is that the Danish and Norwegian attacks from the 8th-11th centuries were instrumental in the creation of England. Hardly a novel or radical thesis, and I'm not sure that they present anything new here, but it's a readable analysis of the period. Particular chapters are given over to analyses of Aelfred and Aethelred, which seem just for the sake of being contrary to common belief to argue that Aelfred was not as 'Great' as usually held, and Aethelred wasn't as bad. The book stresses the regionalism of England even after unification which seems to go against the thesis it is trying to present.

There are annoyances here - the use of modern buzzwords ("9/11 moment", "shock and awe", "hearts and minds") and slang, some of this even put into the mouths of contemporaries; as the authors would have it, Aelfweard spoke of "disgusting squaddies" and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle apparently talks of "quislings". Really?

There is the modern tendency to downplay Viking violence - according to the authors, on no evidence whatsoever, the 787 Portland incident was just a trading visit by nice peaceful Norsemen which got out of hand (hence the start date of 789 in the title). Although the authors don't support the idea, I can't understand why, in the chapter analysing Aelfred, they even give space to the pernicious nonsense of one writer who says that Aelfred's resistance against the Danes "is not Churchill facing down a German invasion but George W. Bush desperately trying to objectify terrorism in order to deal with it in a proper military manner".

You also feel a little inconsistency at times - the story of Aelle's "blood eagle" execution is dismissed because it is not a contemporary reference, yet the literary references to the murder of St Edmund are considered credible despite also being from a much later date.

To summarise, a readable analysis with some annoyances, though nothing really new.
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Having read widely on the Vikings and Anglo-Saxon England (including both books written for the general reader and the academic market) I have come across no other book that does what this one does: it distills a huge amount of research and reading to make the entirety of the Viking Wars in England accessible in one place. The extent of this reading-base is revealed in the extensive references and Bibliography which means that every quote and interpretation is sourced. This means that, if the reader wishes to, they can track down the basis for the evidence and views covered in the book. Alternatively, they can just enjoy this as a fast-paced and comprehensive exploration of just about every aspect of the Viking Wars that one can think of. Chapters cover topics including: how and why the Viking raids started; the comparative military organisations of the opposing sides; the impact of the Vikings on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; the survival of Wessex under Alfred; the written evidence-base – can it be trusted? ; how ‘great’ was Alfred the Great? ; the impact on Anglo-Saxon society of the Viking raids and settlement; the reconquest of the ‘Danelaw’; the careers of Aethelflaed Lady of the Mercians, Edward the Elder and Athelstan; the return of the Vikings; how ‘unready’ was Aethelred? ; conquest under Cnut; the road to Hastings; the reasons for the end of the Viking Wars. Along the way, we discover the impact of the wars on place-names and settlement, ethnic identity, the unification of England, Anglo-Saxon taxation and government, trade and urbanisation, art and fashion, the Norman Conquest and the Domesday Book. Some of this will be familiar to the expert reader, most will be an eye-opener to the general reader; and all is brought together in one accessible and well written book.Read more ›
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