A Brief History of the Normans: The Conquests that Changed the Face of Europe is an interesting if a somewhat "textbookish" read. While most people associate the Normans with the Norman invasion of England in 1066 their history is far older. The name of course comes from the term ‘Norsemen’ and they were one of the most successful warrior tribes of the early medieval period. Rulers over vast swaths of Europe from the Baltic Sea to the borders of Eastern Europe, they both influenced and were influenced by numerous cultures. However, their presence was most firmly felt in the area that eventually took their name: Normandy. From there they set out on a number of military campaigns, while also introducing political and cultural innovations innovations that paved the way for late medieval society.
Written by an eminent french historian, Francios Neveux, this short book is both informative and readable for the armchair historian. My only complaint is that it can be a bit dry at times. A stronger emphasis on primary sources may have alleviated this aspect, but it also may have made it a less accessible read.