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The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World

de Arthur Herman

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1585175,234 (3.56)2
"From a New York Times best-selling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist, a sweeping epic of how the Vikings and their descendants have shaped history and America"--
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This book was so exciting to me. I am Danish and Swedish, and know from the genealogy chart my brother did that I am descended from royalty. But I did not know from how much! I learned from which direction my family settled. However, there was only so much fighting I could handle. I put the book down before The Vikings traveled to North America. It was a library book, and I will be sure to get it again. ( )
  KarlaC | Nov 30, 2022 |
Timely Take-Aways for Life-Long Learners

Explore three new works of nonfiction focusing on the Viking experience.

The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World
Arthur Herman, August 2021, Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Themes: history, Vikings, Europe, Scandinavia, expeditions
From their role as foreign invaders to their contributions as settlers and global citizens, Herman effectively engages readers in the history of the Vikings as they explored the world seeking both conquest and a better life for their families.

The Last Viking: The True Story of King Harald Hardrada
Don Hollway
September 2021, Osprey/Macmillan
Themes: history, Vikings, medieval, military, biography
This fast-paced work of nonfiction narrative weaves together a wide range of historical accounts and legends to tell the true story of King Harald Hardrada of Norway. This larger than life Viking warrior traversed the world seeking vengeance, passion, and power.

Armies of the Vikings, AD 793-1066: History, Organization & Equipment
Gabriele Esposito, October 2021, Pen & Sword Military
Themes: history, Vikings, Europe, military
Exploring the military history (AD 793-1066) of the Vikings, this accessible work of nonfiction examines their global impact including key campaigns, battles, and warriors. Of particular note is the use of high quality color photographs of re-enactors and emphasis on strategy, tactics, weapons, armor, and clothing.

Let’s explore seven timely take-aways for life-long learners:

1. The significant contributions of Vikings and their Scandinavian descendants are often overlooked in favor of a narrative focusing on violence and domination.
2. While sometimes associated with white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups, DNA investigations have found that the Norsemen of the Viking era never formed a single race or national identity. Instead they can be defined by their shared cultural and spiritual way of life that transcends physical traits and specific locations.
3. While many other cultures placed emphasis on gender, birthright and status, the Vikings stressed leadership, loyalty, and courage in battle. As a result, diversity was the norm giving women and individuals not native to Norway the opportunity to excel.
4. Human-trafficking was common among Viking raiding parties contributing to their wealth. Slaves were a significant commodity in the domestic economy.
5. The term Viking didn’t become popularized until the nineteenth century.
6. King Harald Hardrada of Norway was a Viking warrior who took center stage near the end of the Viking era.
7. It’s often difficult to separate the fact from the fantasy when studying the Viking era. Historians must synthesize memoir, historical accounts, oral history, and Norse sagas to create an accurate narrative.

Whether helping educators keep up-to-date in their subject-areas, promoting student reading in the content-areas, or simply encouraging nonfiction leisure reading, teacher librarians need to be aware of the best new titles across the curriculum and how to activate life-long learning. - Annette Lamb ( )
  eduscapes | Oct 18, 2021 |
The Viking Heart: How Scandinavians Conquered the World by Arthur Herman is a highly recommended history of the Vikings, their influence in Europe and beyond, and eventually how the mind set of the Scandinavians influenced American history. This is a history written with ties to Herman's own family heritage.

As most people know the Vikings, Norwegians, Danes, Finns, and Swedes, were raiders who sparked terror across Europe and east Eurasia for more than two centuries after 780 C.E. and shaped the history of these areas before they settled down to becoming settlers and traders. These Norsemen were never part of one national identity and represented a very small population, which makes their impact even more interesting. What set them apart was that where ever they went they brought with them a certain attitude, way of life, and mythology. Herman also shares archaeological and DNA research to trace the movements and reach of the Vikings.

As this is a history focused on Scandinavians, the peoples comprising these countries are the focus of the book. Their bold actions, raids, travels, movements, mythology, communities, families, inventiveness, and adventurous spirit are the focus of the history from the early time of the Viking to the contributions of settlers in America. Once in America, Herman covers the role the role these settlers played in American history along with several famous descendants of Scandinavian ancestry. The part that many Scandinavians will stand up and applaud is the clear presentation of how Snorri Sturluson's Eddas and guide to Old Norse Mythology influenced so many parts of popular culture today, especially Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

The narrative is very accessible to readers wanting a basic account of Vikings and their descendants in America rather than an encyclopedic history of all things Viking and Scandinavian. Those who are looking for a complete in-depth examination of the history can look for further information, but a causal reader will appreciate this presentation. Herman states that he wrote this book to examine and pay homage to his ancestors, so he does make the book personal, naming his Scandinavian relatives and sharing personal family stories. The volume includes chapter notes and an index, as well as photographs.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HMH Books. ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Jul 26, 2021 |
A lay narration of the history of Scandinavia and its influence on the world.

The author is very much personally invested in the narrative of the Scandinavians as having a particular kind of dedication to the common good and a robust work ethic developing out of their experience living in a very difficult land. Thus the entire work is an apologetic for the Scandinavians.

Not much is made of Scandinavians before the Vikings break out on the scene in the latter part of the eighth century. The author explores what is known of them from the historical narrative and archaeological findings. He traces their journeys throughout Europe and western Asia and how they profoundly shaped the Europe of the time. We learn of their travels to Iceland, Greenland, and North America.

The author then glazes over most of medieval and early modern history with the concession that Scandinavia was generally weak. Much is made of the Reformation and especially Gustavus Adolphus. Then there's a really almost patronizingly dismissive account of early modern Scandinavia which seems to mostly reinforce why so many Scandinavians moved to America. Much is then made of Scandinavian influence in America and on WWII.

Does the author show that the Scandinavians are a hardy people and have their positive contributions to Europe and the world? Yes. Does he massively overstate "the Viking heart" in an understandable but ultimately misguided quest to exalt his ancestors? Absolutely. He does well at condemning the white supremacist embrace of all things Viking and Nordic, but his own quest falls prey to its own kind of chauvinism and essentialism.

Probably nothing in here you couldn't learn from a slightly more academic yet accessible introduction to Scandinavia, and hopefully without the agenda.

**--galley received as part of early review program ( )
  deusvitae | May 29, 2021 |
Norse, European-history, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, history-and-culture, history-trivia, cultural-exploration, cultural-heritage*****

Who is the most influential author of all time (besides God or Allah)? Snorri Sturluson! Without his Eddas there would be no Lord of the Rings, Ragnar, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter (and a whole lot more). And he was only one of the influencers detailed in this comfortable and well-researched read about the Norse influences from BCE to the present. This is history in fairly chronological order with in text references to stuff we know today but without being stuffy or pedantic. There are pictures and quotes as well.
I am writing this review before finishing this book but after I have pre-ordered print copies for two of my sons (one of whom graduated UMnDuluth with history honors) and an ebook for myself.
I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley. Thank you! ( )
  jetangen4571 | May 11, 2021 |
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"From a New York Times best-selling historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist, a sweeping epic of how the Vikings and their descendants have shaped history and America"--

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