Martin Arnold

Coming to America

The Northmen’s Fury: A History of the Viking World


Jonathan Cape 450pp £25 order from our bookshop

The image of the Viking warrior has long been a source of (sometimes guilty) fascination. Victorian intellectuals were eager to see in the Vikings a specifically northern inspiration for British industrial, scientific and imperial advances. In the 20th century, however, despite continuing enthusiasm for Viking machismo in popular culture, many scholars, drawing on early medieval Christian commentaries, have tended to take a dimmer view. The bad press the Vikings received was not helped by the claims of the Nazis to be the herrenvolk inheritors of Old Northern values and mettle. A more balanced view, one that found deeper historical forces at work behind the sudden surge of violence from Scandinavia that began in the late eighth century, did not emerge until 1968 with Gwyn Jones’s masterly A History of the Vikings.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,
    • 'The Testaments is, first and foremost, a manual of resistance ... a type of resistance that is organised, articula… ,