This is a wonderful book if you read it for the history, but I had problems with the political and social commentary – the author’s assumptions, if you will.
The Viking Heart: How Scandinavia Conquered the World
By Arthur Herman
2021 / 512 pages
Read by Kiff VandenHeuvel 18h 50m
Rating: 9.3 / history
(Both read and listened)
Herman is careful to steer away from any actual “racial” slant, but some ethnic thing is certainly there because “Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland seem to have discovered some secret about how to live and thrive together that has eluded most of the modern world.” And this is apparent in “the Nordic countries today – where the direct descendants of the Vikings still live…” (Conclusion).
Viking Voyages – great map!
Not to say he ignores Quisling because he doesn’t, but I think Herman might have cherry-picked much of his evidence. He included the Finns for their fierce fighting, but then he excluded Knut Hamsun for embracing the Germans. And that’s a shame because the Finns really are different and wonderful in their own right, while Hamsun wrote directly about the solid good people of Norway prior to WWI. Rolvaag is only mentioned as the author of a novel referred to in a source note – Rolvaag’s book did not glorify Norwegians! Neither of Hamsun nor Rolvaag were impressed with America, though. He works with Lindberg’s politics (and Ihave no issue with that.) Herman is a true USA patriot in the red sense of the term.
From the Wall Street Journal: “An absorbing and humane account . . . Mr. Herman is at pains to remind us that the Viking world was never just a stage for mayhem. It was, he says, ‘about daring to reach for more than the universe had gifted you, no matter the odds and the obstacles.’ In short: We might all take our own life’s cue from the Viking heart.”—The Wall Street Journal
Hmm, yes, I don’t know an awful lot about Scandi history, but it does sound a bit suss.
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