Children of Ash and Elm Book Review

Children of Ash and Elm by Neil Price

“Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings” by Neil Price offers a comprehensive and detailed exploration of the Viking Age, spanning from their earliest origins to their lasting impact on the modern world. Price delves deep into Viking life’s social, cultural, and political aspects, presenting a nuanced view that challenges many popular misconceptions.

The book is not a novel but a historical account, richly detailed and engaging. Price presents a narrative that is both scholarly and accessible, weaving together archaeological findings, historical texts, and linguistic studies to create a vivid portrayal of the Viking world. The main characters in this context are the Vikings themselves, portrayed not just as raiders and warriors, but as traders, explorers, and settlers. The setting encompasses the vast expanse of the Viking influence, from the Nordic countries to the far reaches of the North Atlantic and the coasts of North America.

Price’s writing style is eloquent and fluid, making the complex history and culture of the Vikings approachable for general readers while still offering depth and insight for scholars. In this case, the character development applies to the portrayal of the Viking society and culture. Price succeeds in humanizing the Vikings, presenting them as a complex and multifaceted people with their own values, beliefs, and social structures.

One of the most striking aspects of “Children of Ash and Elm” is its ability to bring the Viking world to life through vivid imagery and descriptive language. Price uses a variety of sources to reconstruct the Viking Age, allowing readers to immerse themselves in the era. The book does not shy away from the more brutal aspects of Viking life, including their rituals, warfare, and social practices, providing a balanced and unvarnished view.

Emotionally, the book is engaging and thought-provoking. It evokes a sense of wonder at the Vikings’ achievements and their resilience and a reflective consideration of their impact on the societies they encountered. Price’s analysis of Viking mythology and religion adds a fascinating layer to the narrative, revealing their actions’ spiritual and philosophical underpinnings.

Children of Ash and Elm
  • Price, Neil (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 640 Pages – 09/13/2022 (Publication Date) – Basic Books (Publisher)

Through “Children of Ash and Elm,” Price communicates a theme of complexity and contradiction in the Viking age, challenging the stereotype of Vikings as mere barbaric raiders. He successfully conveys their culture’s richness, contributions to trade and exploration, and lasting impact on European history.

The book’s primary strength lies in its thorough research and ability to present a nuanced view of the Viking era. However, some readers might find the level of detail overwhelming, especially those looking for a more casual read.

I would highly recommend “Children of Ash and Elm” to history enthusiasts, particularly those interested in the Viking Age and scholars in the field. It offers a valuable perspective that enriches our understanding of a crucial period in European history.

Comparing it to other works on Viking history, Price’s book stands out for its depth of research and engaging narrative. It complements other historical accounts by providing a more rounded and humanized view of the Vikings.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. “Children of Ash and Elm” is a must-read for anyone interested in the Vikings, offering a comprehensive, insightful, and beautifully written account of their history and legacy.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Juneteenth: A Celebration of Freedom

celebrating juneteenth


It’s important to recognize and commemorate significant events in American history. Juneteenth is just such an event, celebrated on June 19th each year. Juneteenth is an important date in American history because it commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

The History of Juneteenth

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in the Confederate states were to be set free. However, it wasn’t until two and a half years later, on June 19, 1865, that Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce that the Civil War had ended and that all slaves were now free. This announcement came two months after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox, Virginia. The news of the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War had not reached Texas until then.

The newly freed slaves in Texas celebrated their newfound freedom with great joy and jubilation. They held parades, sang songs, and read the Emancipation Proclamation out loud. This day became known as Juneteenth, a combination of the words “June” and “nineteenth.”

Why Juneteenth is Important

Juneteenth is an important date in American history for several reasons. First, it marks the end of slavery in the United States. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed two and a half years earlier, it wasn’t until Juneteenth that the news reached all of the states. This day symbolizes the end of a dark period in American history and the beginning of a new era of freedom and equality.

Second, Juneteenth celebrates the resilience and perseverance of the African American community. Despite years of slavery and oppression, African Americans were able to maintain their culture, traditions, and sense of community. Juneteenth is a celebration of their strength and determination.

Finally, Juneteenth is a reminder that the fight for civil rights and equality is ongoing. Although slavery was abolished over 150 years ago, systemic racism and inequality still exist in America today. Juneteenth serves as a call to action to continue the work of those who fought for freedom and equality in the past and to work towards a more just and equal society for all.

Resources for Teaching about Juneteenth

10 Powerful Books for Adults, Teens, and Kids to Celebrate and Understand Juneteenth

For children:

Addy: An American Girl

In this American Girl classic, Addy Walker is a young slave living in 1864 who dreams of escaping to freedom with her family. However, their plans are foiled when their owner decides to sell Addy’s father and brother to a different plantation. Left with only her mother, Addy must escape alone and hope to reunite with her family in Philadelphia. Follow Addy’s courageous journey as she adjusts to life as a free person in the North and strives to be reunited with her loved ones.

Freedom’s Gifts: A Juneteenth Story

Young Black girl June celebrates Juneteenth, while her cousin Lillie celebrates the Fourth of July. Can June teach Lillie the importance of Juneteenth at the family picnic?

All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom

This picture book tells the story of a little girl’s liberation on the first Juneteenth. The book includes notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of notable dates, and a glossary to help children understand the significance of Juneteenth.

I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl

This Coretta Scott King Honor winner tells the story of Patsy, a 12-year-old girl living in Mars Bluff, S.C., after the Civil War. Written in diary format, the book follows Patsy as she observes the changes around her and embraces her newfound freedom to read and write. Through her own determination, Patsy creates a better life for herself and her fellow formerly enslaved people.

For teens:

Crossing Ebenezer Creek

During the Civil War, General Sherman leads Union soldiers through Georgia, setting enslaved Mariah and her younger brother Zeke free. The two join the march for protection, but as Mariah dreams of a better life for herself and her people, the harsh realities of slavery continue to weigh on her.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

Preteens and teenagers who are too young to read Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning can still learn about antiracism from his collaboration with young adult author Reynolds. The book uses critical race theory, history, and pop culture references to keep young readers engaged.

For adults:

The Deep

This novella is a fantasy story inspired by the song “The Deep” from Clipping, a Hugo Award-nominated rap group led by Daveed Diggs. It follows the descendants of African enslaved women who were thrown overboard during their journey to America, now living under the sea. Yetu, a historian, must remember her people’s traumatic past since no one else can. But she escapes to the surface, discovering the world her people left behind and the traumatic memories held there.

Between the World and Me

In this essay about race, Coates writes a letter to his son about his life as a Black man, his fears and dreams for his son, the nature of the Black body in America, and his aspirations for the Black community. Coates weaves an intimate look into Blackness in America.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

In this deep dive into Black history, Ibram X. Kendi details the history of anti-Blackness in America, from the first enslaved people to today. He highlights five key historical figures in American and Black history: Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Angela Davis. Each represents the attitudes of their era and played a significant role in the fight for or against abolition, segregation, assimilation, or equal rights.

The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology

Romance fans will enjoy this anthology about love and hope after Juneteenth. The stories cover various topics, from the day enslaved people were freed to a Juneteenth-themed cruise, out-of-wedlock pregnancy in the early 20th century, and boxing rings during the Civil Rights Movement. Each story captures love and Black joy during difficult times.

On Juneteenth

In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon-Reed discusses the history of slavery in America, leading up to the events that culminated in Juneteenth. She also weaves together American history and her own family history to pay tribute to the integral role of Black people in shaping Texas. The author previously wrote Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, which challenged Americans’ perception of the founding father due to his exploitative relationship with Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman on his plantation.

The 2023 Pulitzer Prize Winners

Since its founding in 1917, the Pulitzer Prize has recognized excellence in journalism, arts, and literature. The Pulitzer Prize winners for 2023 have been announced, and they represent some of the best and brightest in their respective fields.

Among the winners are journalists who exposed corruption and abuse of power, authors who wrote moving and thought-provoking works of fiction and non-fiction, and musicians who created groundbreaking new compositions. The Pulitzer Prize continues to symbolize the highest achievement in these fields, and the winners serve as inspirations to us all.

You can see the winners in all categories, including 15 Journalism categories, on the Pulitzer website. You can also watch the ceremony in full on YouTube below.


Here are the 2023 Pulitzer Prize winners in the Books categories.


Demon Copperhead,” by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper)

Trust,” by Hernan Diaz (Riverhead Books)


The Immortal King Rao,” by Vauhini Vara (W. W. Norton & Company)


Freedom’s Dominion: A Saga of White Resistance to Federal Power,” by Jefferson Cowie (Basic Books)


Seeing Red: Indigenous Land, American Expansion, and the Political Economy of Plunder in North America,” by Michael John Witgen (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture/University of North Carolina Press)

Watergate: A New History,” by Garrett M. Graff (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster)


G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the American Century,” by Beverly Gage (Viking)


His Name is George Floyd,” by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa (Viking)

Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century,” by Jennifer Homans (Random House)

Memoir or Autobiography

Stay True,” by Hua Hsu (Doubleday)


Easy Beauty: A Memoir,” by Chloé Cooper Jones (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster)

The Man Who Could Move Clouds: A Memoir,” by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Doubleday)


Then the War: And Selected Poems, 2007-2020,” by Carl Phillips (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)


Blood Snow,” by dg nanouk okpik (Wave Books)

Still Life,” by the late Jay Hopler (McSweeney’s)

General Nonfiction

His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice,” by Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa (Viking)


Kingdom of Characters: The Language Revolution That Made China Modern,” by Jing Tsu (Riverhead Books)

Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution’s Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction,” by David George Haskell (Viking)

Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on American Lives and on the Health of Our Nation,” by Linda Villarosa (Doubleday)

Midjourney Recreates Ancient Battles

From the “This is wicked cool” department, here are some examples of Midjourney’s take on ancient battles.

I continue to be blown away by the power of AI tools. At the same time, I completely understand many of the concerns about AI replacing working writers, artists, and other creators.

There is a way forward, and I think it lies in using AI as a support tool. The possibilities for students to use AI as a support to their work are many, but we must be judicious in its usage.

Books I Read in May 2022

I’m consistently working to keep my reading on track this year. I have a book with me wherever I go (physical & ebook) and carve out a little time each day.

Some days more than others 😉

Here are the books I read/finished reading during May 2022: