There has been a longstanding scholarly debate concerning the identity of the first discoverer of the New World. Certainly it was not Christopher Columbus, but was it Eric the Red, or his son Leif Ericsson? Rudolf Poertner announces that the first man to have sighted the New World was one Bjarni Herjolfsson, a twenty-year-old Icelander in search of his father. Bjarni is not exactly a household word, and most of the information in Poertner's work is similarly obscure, but his history is nonetheless enlightening and engaging. The book views Viking life from the 9th through the 13th centuries, when the Norsemen enjoyed their greatest mastery of the medieval world. Although Poertner begins with a conventional chronicle of leaders, expeditions, wars, and treaties, the book quickly finds its true purpose--""the description of social, spiritual, and scientific structures more important than battles and affairs of state . . . . the anonymous common people are the true heroes of this book."" Poertner details the everyday events in the lives of his Norsemen: how they lived, married, fought, ate, drank, sailed, traded, and died; he describes their material life and government, religion, and art. What emerges is a collective portrait of a lively, vital and proud people, free ""from moral conflicts, neuroses, and marital instability.