Saxons versus Vikings

Alfred the Great and the Birth of England

By (author) Ed West

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Book Details

  • Publisher : Sphinx Books
  • Published : November 2023
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 130
  • Size : 229mm(w) x 152mm(h)
  • Catalogue No : 95226
  • ISBN 13 : 9781915952059
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A witty and concise return to the very beginning of English history.

England. 871. The land is overrun by Vikings: the unrelenting, impervious, bloodthirsty Scandinavian assailants who have instilled terror across early medieval Europe.

For the kingdom of Wessex, prospects look bleak following the deaths of two of their kings: one by murdered by arrows, the other tortured to death, with his lungs ripped out...

Worse still, the Saxons are now led by a young man barely out of his teens, more interested in God than fighting for his kingdom.

But within a matter of years, England is transformed. Alfred - the only English king known as 'the Great' - has forced the Vikings out of half of England, and his descendants will go on to unite England within the decade.

The period covered in Saxons vs. Vikings - popularised by TV shows such as Vikings and The Last Kingdom - was one of revolutionary change: the creation of England as a nation state, the implementation of Alfred's first national law code, and the establishment of an education system alongside immense architectural development.

This fascinating introduction to the early days of England also covers the period before Alfred, such as ancient Britain, the Roman occupation, and the Dark Ages, exploring defining historical episodes in English history such as Boudicca, King Arthur, and Beowulf.

About the author

By (author) Ed West

Ed West is an author and journalist, and writes the popular Wrong Side of History substack. Previously  has written for the Daily Telegraph, Catholic Herald, Evening Standard, The Times, Irish Independent, Daily Express, Standpoint, the Spectator and UnHerd. He lives in north London with his wife and three children.

Reviews & Endorsements

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Dominic Sandbrook, historian, author and co-host of 'The Rest is History' podcast on 01/11/2023

“This is a lovely book - breezy, enthusiastic and funny, wearing its considerable learning very lightly. Ed West has written the kind of book that reminds you why you fell in love with history in the first place. The perfect introduction to the subject, and an enormously entertaining read."