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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2016 Robert Ferguson (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A delightful history in which the author truly captures 'the soul of the North.'" ( Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

String of digressions paints cultural picture

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I recommend this book to people who have an interest in Scandinavia and some knowledge of the history of the countries - Norway, Denmark and Sweden. Knowledge of Finland not really as essential. Without some context you may find it hard to follow.

Would you be willing to try another book from Robert Ferguson? Why or why not?

Yes - he is a scholar widely read and schooled, especially in literature and theatre. He closely observes current events, people and reactions, and can explain current trends.

Which character – as performed by Michael Page – was your favorite?

This was not a "screen play" or theatrical reading, but Mr Page did some characters; in the illustrative scenes about Henrik Ibsen and his wife and the secret of the out-of-wedlock child, the voices were excellent.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, and it would be better if listened to in one sitting or in close timing. Would be easy to lose the context if spread over time, because the author takes time to unfold his points.

Any additional comments?

Scandinavians are cool. We (Americans) buy Ikea furniture, envy their social welfare system, admire the outdoor lifestyle, read the crime fiction. Even the melancholic view seems stoic and commonsensical; life is tough. But is the outsider's view correct? The author searches for the cause of Scandinavian melancholy, indeed whether it even exists. But you must judge for yourself. A snarky English emigrant's view of the Scandinavian psyche and self-view. If you love English dry humor you will love this book; especially if you don't mind the long digressions - the book is actually a string of digressions. You will either view tthem as a string of pearls or the worst "shaggy dog" stories.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • United States
  • 07-26-17

This book answers many questions I have wondered about and much further beyond that.

I have traveled in Denmark and Sweden and have worked closely with Scandinavian health service providers, as well as providing behavioral health services to a few Scandinavians. This book feels like a roadmap to all of the above, and very much more. It's dense with information presented in a friendly tone describing historical events and processes from prehistory to present-day excursions the author takes with his wife. The narrator easily conveys the impression that he is the erudite author himself

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

pretentious.

This book was hard to get through. it was a a messy compilation of stories about the author and his friends, none of which are truly interesting. In fact, most of the dialogue gives the reader a feeling of not being a part of the conversation and, instead, being an eavesdropper listening in on a scholarly talk about topic that has no intrigue.
If you enjoy listening to an author describe other works of fiction, then have pretentious conversations with his friends on these topics where everyone is an apparent expert in such topics, then this book is for you!
For everyone else looking for a truly historical background or a good cultural overview of Scandinavia, best to skip this and look for a better option.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

An exhausting journey through Scandinavian history

This is a good book, but it is very long. The author does preface the work that it's not really a history but a journey. He explores the scandanavian countries and gathers stories about the entire history of the region. It is mostly in chronological order, which is good in a way, and also bad in a way.
The scandanavian region has history that goes a long way back. To encompass it all the book, by definition, would have to be long.
I think I started to give up on this book when I discovered that a section of the book was devoted to an entire three-act play. I was half-way into the second act before I realized what was going on.
At this point I had invested so much time in the book just getting to year 1900 that I just wanted to get through it and hope there were some useful insights on modern scandanavia. There wasn't much.
I had always put Finland with the Scandanavian countries but there was almost no mention of Finland. I think there was more about Iceland & Greenland than Finland.
This is a good book, but it is for someone who wants to live vicariously through the author and his travels through Scandanavia.
My ratings are: 1 = Couldn't finish book; 2 = Finished book but nothing redeeming in book; 3 = Finished book and there was some new insight, etc.
This is why I give it three-stars.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful