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Publisher's Summary

As raiders and explorers, the Vikings played a decisive role in the formation of Latin Christendom, and particularly of western Europe.
Now, in a series of 36 vivid lectures by an honored teacher and classical scholar, you have the opportunity to understand this remarkable race as never before, studying the Vikings not only as warriors, but in all of the other roles in which they were equally extraordinary - merchants, artists, kings, raiders, seafarers, shipbuilders, and creators of a remarkable literature of myths and sagas. Professor Harl draws insights from an astonishing array of sources: The Russian Primary Chronicle (a Slavic text from medieval Kiev), 13th-century Icelandic poems and sagas, Byzantine accounts, Arab geographies, annals of Irish monks who faced Viking raids, Roman reports, and scores of other firsthand contemporary documents.
Among the topics you'll explore are the profound influence of the Norse gods and heroes on Viking culture and the Vikings' extraordinary accomplishments as explorers and settlers in Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. And with the help of archaeological findings, you'll learn to analyze Viking ship burials, rune stones and runic inscriptions, Viking wood carving, jewelry, sculpture, and metalwork. By the end of the series, you'll have a new understanding of what it meant to be a Viking and a richer appreciation of this remarkable race - a people who truly defined the history of Europe, and whose brave, adventurous, and creative spirit still survives today.
©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses
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Customer Reviews

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By Michael C. Lott on 09-14-13

Enthralling Presentation of a Fascinating Subject

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I highly recommend this lecture series. Professor Harl is a fantastic presenter thus making an interesting subject even more so given his depth of knowledgeable and dynamic coverage of Viking History.

I took a risk in choosing a lecture series for the first time on a subject I was only mildly interested in. The risk paid in spades. I honestly expected an arduous churn up a deep information stream and yet found I was shooting the rapids with a fascinating guy: great voice, dynamic spirit, excellent depth, intriguing side bars. I found myself consumed by the lectures and now seeking out more about the lore and history of Vikings.

Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This the first time I've listened to the work of Professor Kenneth W. Harl and he presents the subject in such a fantastic way, I'm already trying to pick the next lecture from this man.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

18 hours worth of material is too much for one sitting (IMO) but I'll be damned if I didn't churn through it within just a few days once I cracked it open. So well presented and logically divided by topic that I found myself absorbed by the work, focused on the subject and listening pretty much non-stop.

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21 of 21 people found this review helpful

By Troy on 07-21-15

Raiders on the Forefront of History

I absolutely love medieval history, but until now my knowledge of the Vikings was perhaps underserviced. The fault is mine alone, based on a misperception that the Norse raiders of old were essentially "ye olde biker gang" writ large. But no matter where you look in medieval history, the Vikings are right there at the forefront, so I knew needed to fill in some glaring gaps in my understanding.

The Great Courses series is generally fantastic on a wide range of topics, and this particular course is no exception. I am blown away at how much I learned in a relatively short amount of time. I've come to respect the Vikings' place in history, even if I can't always respect how they secured it. There are deeper layers to their culture that make them far more interesting as a study in contradiction, which in turn lends even more to the larger tapestry that they've woven themselves into. If you're looking for a solid course on just how much history has turned as a result of the Viking culture, look no further. This one's a winner.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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By Meb on 05-02-15

More knowledge gained .

It was very informative , it also kept my interest though out . As I am not an academic I did wonder whether it would be difficult to understand but this wasn't the case . The readers enthusiasm for his subject showed throughout the lectures . Despite its length I shall listen to it again . I don't want to have missed anything .

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

By Sean on 01-22-17


I loved these lectures,what a heroic,fearful time to live,a bit disappointed I never heard anything about Magnus barelegs but we can't have everything.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By Naomi on 01-16-18

Some good information

This lecture series is definitely not for anyone without prior understanding of the medieval period (in which the Viking age sits) and the major events that occurred in that era. There are too many unexplained references to medieval events and people that are confusing unless you already know those events and names. I would suggest some of the other Great Courses on the Medieval Period before trying this one.

Although the lecturer has a tendency to go off on tangents and constantly explain events which he then says "we will cover in another lecture", the actual information is detailed and useful.

The lecturer also has an extremely patronising tone of voice; he starts every lecture sounding like he would rather be doing something else and that he is really annoyed at having to tell someone all this information. As he gets into his story, the tone gets a little better, but he still sounds like he's is being made to do this lecture series under duress.

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By Stan on 12-27-16

Vikings more than horned helmets

In fact they did not wear them. Being totally ignorant of Viking history, I learned a lot.

It was fascinating to learn of the huge impact upon Europe and beyond that the Vikings had.

I loved the nick names they had for so many of their leaders. And the place of Icelandic saga writing and why it occurred there.

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