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The Vikings | [The Great Courses]

The Vikings

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.
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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.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (219 )
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  •  
    Peter HIXTON, WI, United States 10-03-13
    Peter HIXTON, WI, United States 10-03-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Informational Listen"

    I liked it. I enjoy history, and with this book, history is what you get. The narration is obviously a bit different, since it is a compilation of lectures. College style. I know this might bore some listeners, but I enjoyed it. It is, what it is, no more, no less, an informative lesson on Norse history, a bit of Norse mythology, and what seems to be a true account, and a timeline, of the Scandinavian people, and their culture, their customs, and their history. If you enjoy history, and nonfiction, I think you should give it a shot. Especially if your of Norwegian heritage.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 09-21-13
    C. Telfair Shepherdstown, WV, United States 09-21-13 Member Since 2006

    Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!

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    "Thor, of course, and Bluetooth(!?)"

    Savage and violent aggressors, looters, slave traders, the Vikings do indeed make the perfect mindless "heroes" in video games! And it's very hard to picture them in the guise of the meek, mild, socialistic Scandinavians of today.

    Professor Harl presents us with the real story, and, in some ways, it matches our preconceptions of the massive, feared raiders of movies and TV. Did you know, for instance, that there was a Viking king called "Bluetooth?" And, sadly, that the Vikings did not wear those cool horned helmets? What they did was learn from the cultures they dominated; they intermarried and absorbed much of the culture of their conquests.

    In fact, they had an enormous influence on Britain, Germany, Iceland, Eastern Europe, even Russia. Yet that relentless warrior ethic sort of melded into the cultures of all these places and leaves little trace at home.

    This course is very long, and some of the details may be most interesting only to specialists and/or those of Scandinavian descent, but there is much here for the listener with a more casual interest in history. The Professor presents a full range of Viking legacies - financial, military, artistic and literary - with enthusiasm and full command of his subject.

    Once again, the Great Courses comes through with a fascinating presentation.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Sandy, UT, United States 09-14-13
    Michael Sandy, UT, United States 09-14-13 Member Since 2010

    Artist | Foodie | Dog Lover | Motorcyclist | Beer Drinker | Music Lover

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    "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.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Halldor Bonn, Germany 12-27-13
    Halldor Bonn, Germany 12-27-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Compelling narrative"
    What made the experience of listening to The Vikings the most enjoyable?

    These lectures gave me fresh insights into the nature of the Viking culture. Being from Iceland, I found the manner in which he told the story of that frontier society particularly insightful.


    What other book might you compare The Vikings to and why?


    Which scene was your favorite?


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?


    Any additional comments?

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Ballston Spa, NY, United States 11-11-13
    Chris Ballston Spa, NY, United States 11-11-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great Overall, Good Performance"
    What did you like best about this story?

    The overall narrative was very in depth and divided up by region. This made it easy for someone who has some Viking knowledge like me to focus on things I didn't know.


    Any additional comments?

    I got this audiobook because I was getting eye surgery and needed something to occupy me for about a week while I couldn't see. It was a good decision. I've always liked Viking history and mythology and I enjoyed the lectures provided. The lecturer obviously knows alot about the time period and uses Norse words effectively. He also knows random anecdotes about most of the figures which makes it very interesting. The one thing I didn't like was that Prof Harl sounds like he needs a drink of water about half way through each lecture and it only gets worse by the end. The classical music and fake applause don't bother me as much as other reviewers.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert McKee Clinton, OH United States 08-10-14
    Robert McKee Clinton, OH United States 08-10-14 Member Since 2008

    A driver that likes to listen to books instead of the radio.

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    "Vacation Research"

    I am traveling to Ireland in the near future and the Vikings have made major influences on the Isle, like the cities are all Viking trading posts. The history of Ireland goes with this well.

    The presenter is easy to listen to and being broken into 30 to 40 minutes breaks things up pretty well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-15-14 Member Since 2013

    linbur0100

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    "Extremely difficult to listen to"
    What would have made The Vikings better?

    My first Great Courses was wonderful, so I was inadvertently misled into thinking they were all going to be like that (well, obviously it would have to be a topic you have some kind of interest in, but based on how great the first one was, I assumed they would all be up to the same standard.) Unfortunately, that is absolutely not the case here. This gentleman is an awful narrator. The content itself could be presented in a much more interesting way, so the "story" only gets 3 stars. But his reading is atrocious. He first goes so slow you can't stand it, and are tempted to put the speed on double to make him sound like he's talking normally. But then in sporadic starts and jumps, he will speak very quickly, so if you are on double time, those sections are too fast to absorb easily. It is possibly one of the worst history Great Courses, and I absolutely do not recommend it.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    NA. This is a history book/college level course material. There is not "ending" per se.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    His reading is terrible, as I explained above.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    NA. Again, it is a history book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian 05-12-14
    Ian 05-12-14 Member Since 2012
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    "One of the best."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is one of my favorites of The Great Courses, and not only because my ancestors would have been characters in its stories. Few are done as effectively and succinctly while introducing you to the wider depth of its base in the sagas and serious historical study.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paal Skjetne Trondheim Norway 02-26-14
    Paal Skjetne Trondheim Norway 02-26-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Broad view on viking age"
    Any additional comments?

    It certainly broadened my view on the vikings, especially on the norman and slavic fronts. I think the author maybe devaluated the Icelandic achievement of making land fall in Newfoundland, but maybe this was purposley done to put more emphasis on the importance the vikings had on Carolingian empire and the birth of the russian identity? Very good story line I was never bored! Recommended! I might listen to it again!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • mr
    west sussex, United Kingdom
    6/2/14
    Overall
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    Story
    "Good"

    Not as much on mythology as I would had liked. Aside from that very good, learnt a lot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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