A delightful history in which the author truly captures “the soul of the North.”



An eye-opening history of a region and culture “vibrant with people, noise, chance, life.”

In this valuable study—not merely a recounting of the stereotypes regarding Vikings and their rampaging ways—award-winning writer and translator Ferguson (Kierkegaard: Great Thinkers on Modern Life, 2015, etc.) searches for the deepest soul of Scandinavia, traversing three countries (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark) once united under a single monarch. The author also includes Iceland, a former territory of Denmark, then Norway, and home of the purest form of their shared ancient language, Old Norse. Much of this lucid book unfolds like a series of short stories, tales told Ferguson by friends, literary connections, and even strangers. In 1969, at age 20, the British author took off on a lark to Sweden and Denmark, and, despite some misadventures, his love for Scandinavia was born. He moved to Norway in 1983 and has lived there ever since. Playing tour guide for his wife, Ferguson exuberantly relates his explorations. Searching deeper proves difficult, as many of the histories of Scandinavia were written by her enemies. The Vikings were in everyone’s history books, of course, and while the classic portrayal of the Norsemen reflected a bellicose nature, the author rejects that view. The Vikings had great respect for the rule of law and strong rites to which they adhered faithfully. What Ferguson is really searching for is the essence of their psyche and how the idea of the melancholy, brooding man replaced the specter of the bloodthirsty conqueror. Different theories cross his path, such as the vast loneliness of the landscape; however, at the same time, that loneliness has produced so many geniuses in a variety of fields. Ferguson also astutely examines the idea that history isn’t always what you think it was; it depends on the recorder, and the past can change its shape.

A delightful history in which the author truly captures “the soul of the North.”

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1482-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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