In the eighth century, The Vikings, the water-borne warriors of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, conquered much of the British Isles. They pillaged the coast of France, pushed inland to sack Paris, and seized Normandy. Sweeping south down the great rivers of central Europe, they overwhelmed the Slavs of Russia, captured Kiev, and clashed with the people of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire.
In all this, the Vikings took untold treasures, but they weren't just barbarians, content to plunder and burn. They were builders of cities, founders of states, writers of poetry, and makers of laws. The Vikings also were bold and tenacious explorers who ventured across oceans to discover new territories - including the New World. Indeed, not since the golden age of the Roman Empire had any people so powerfully influenced the Western world. Here, from award-winning journalist Robert Wernick, is their dramatic story.