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The Viking Blitzkrieg: AD 789–1098 Paperback – 12 Jun 2013
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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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Top customer reviews
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.
Since the book is up-to-date with regard to recent archaeological finds and academic opinions, experienced students of the Vikings will still find stimulating insights and pieces of evidence, and the general reader will discover the whole span of the Viking Wars (along with key issues and problems) comprehensively explored and explained. The occasional parallels drawn with modern conflicts only serve to deepen our understanding, by allowing readers to consider the real impact of the Viking Wars on contemporary societies. What also stands out is the rooting of the account and its interpretations in a critical assessment of the surviving documentary sources. This is often overlooked in many books written for the ‘Viking-market’ which present documentary evidence at face-value. Not so here. In this book it is subjected to scrutiny and analysed for its origins and its ‘agenda’ and ‘spin’. At times it reads like a detective investigation, as the authors are determined to get to the bottom of what actually happened and how it has been communicated to us. A striking example is the way in which the records of the late-eighth-century Viking raids can reveal fascinating clues about the outlook of those writing them (as well as the nature of the Viking raids themselves), once we unravel and compare them. This is rarely done in comparable books. Because this is about the Vikings, there will inevitably be areas of controversy; however the authors always examine the different alternative viewpoints before reaching a conclusion based on a critical balancing of the evidence. If anyone is looking for a single book on the impact of the Viking Wars on Anglo-Saxon England, or just a good read, this is it.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The various indicators listed by the authors include a) the unity of England in the tenth centuary b) the rise of the Goodwin family aqnd thier conflict with Edward the Confessor c) the Norman conquest and the Doomsday book. The authors suggest these outcomes were the by products of the Viking wars.
Well written and researched. It wouid appear we are in the debt of the Vikings.