Scandinavians: In Search of the Soul of the North
Scandinavia is the epitome of cool: we fill our homes with Nordic furniture; we envy their humane social welfare system and their healthy outdoor lifestyle; we glut ourselves on their crime fiction; even their strangely attractive melancholia seems to express a stoic, commonsensical acceptance of life's vicissitudes. But how valid is this outsider's view of Scandinavia, and how accurate is our picture of life in Scandinavia today?Scandinavians follows a chronological progression across the Northern centuries: the Vendel era of Swedish prehistory; the age of the Vikings; the Christian conversions of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland; the unified Scandinavian state of the late Middle Ages; the sea-change of the Reformation; the kingdom of Denmark-Norway; King Gustav Adolphus and the age of Sweden's greatness; the cultural golden age of Ibsen, Strindberg, and Munch; the impact of the Second World War; Scandinavia's postwar social democratic nirvana; and the terror attacks of Anders Behring Breivik.
'A leisurely and digressive account, full of personality ... When Ferguson quotes from a Norwegian novel: "History isn't always what you think it was," it's a summary of his own impressive book' All About Health. 'A fascinating blend of social commentary and cultural analysis ... Scandinavians asks a lot of very interesting questions' The Big Issue. 'A terrific read ... [It] reads like many 19th-century travel books, which also combined wonderful narrative description with bright speculation ... It's this approach that makes the book so thoroughly enjoyable' Literary Review. 'Affectionate and at times wondering survey of this little-known collective culture' TLS. 'Bringing the varied stories of the Nordic people vividly to life' Irish Times. 'Charming, affectionate and enhancing yet critical book' The Times.
Robert Ferguson has lived in Norway since 1983. He is the author of The Hammer and The Cross: A New History of the Vikings (Penguin, 2009), as well as biographies of Ibsen, Henry Miller and T. E. Hulme.