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Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

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The story of the Vikings in North America as both fact and fiction, from the westward expansion of the Norse across the North Atlantic in the tenth and eleventh centuries to the myths and fabrications about their presence there that have developed in recent centuries. Tracking the saga of the Norse across the North Atlantic to America, Norse America sets the record straight The story of the Vikings in North America as both fact and fiction, from the westward expansion of the Norse across the North Atlantic in the tenth and eleventh centuries to the myths and fabrications about their presence there that have developed in recent centuries. Tracking the saga of the Norse across the North Atlantic to America, Norse America sets the record straight about the idea that the Vikings 'discovered' America. The journey described is a continuum, with evidence-based history and archaeology at one end, and fake history and outright fraud at the other. In between there lies a huge expanse of uncertainty: sagas that may contain shards of truth, characters that may be partly historical, real archaeology that may be interpreted through the fictions of saga, and fragmentary evidence open to responsible and irresponsible interpretation. Norse America is a book that tells two stories. The first is the westward expansion of the Norse across the North Atlantic in the tenth and eleventh centuries, settling in Greenland and establishing a shore station at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland (to which a chapter of the book is devoted) and ending (but not culminating) in a fleeting and ill-documented presence on the shores of the North American mainland.The second is the appropriation and enhancement of the westward narrative by Canadians and Americans who want America to have had white North European origins, who therefore want the Vikings to have 'discovered' America, and who in the advancement of that thesis have been willing to twist and manufacture evidence in support of claims grounded in an ideology of racial superiority.


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The story of the Vikings in North America as both fact and fiction, from the westward expansion of the Norse across the North Atlantic in the tenth and eleventh centuries to the myths and fabrications about their presence there that have developed in recent centuries. Tracking the saga of the Norse across the North Atlantic to America, Norse America sets the record straight The story of the Vikings in North America as both fact and fiction, from the westward expansion of the Norse across the North Atlantic in the tenth and eleventh centuries to the myths and fabrications about their presence there that have developed in recent centuries. Tracking the saga of the Norse across the North Atlantic to America, Norse America sets the record straight about the idea that the Vikings 'discovered' America. The journey described is a continuum, with evidence-based history and archaeology at one end, and fake history and outright fraud at the other. In between there lies a huge expanse of uncertainty: sagas that may contain shards of truth, characters that may be partly historical, real archaeology that may be interpreted through the fictions of saga, and fragmentary evidence open to responsible and irresponsible interpretation. Norse America is a book that tells two stories. The first is the westward expansion of the Norse across the North Atlantic in the tenth and eleventh centuries, settling in Greenland and establishing a shore station at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland (to which a chapter of the book is devoted) and ending (but not culminating) in a fleeting and ill-documented presence on the shores of the North American mainland.The second is the appropriation and enhancement of the westward narrative by Canadians and Americans who want America to have had white North European origins, who therefore want the Vikings to have 'discovered' America, and who in the advancement of that thesis have been willing to twist and manufacture evidence in support of claims grounded in an ideology of racial superiority.

35 review for Norse America: The Story of a Founding Myth

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kitten Kisser

    The author managed to take a topic I find fascinating & turn it into an absolute slog. This is painfully dry & a total bore to read. I have never read a book about the Norse that was so utterly dull. Add to that nearly everything is "racist". I'm so sorry I ordered this. The author managed to take a topic I find fascinating & turn it into an absolute slog. This is painfully dry & a total bore to read. I have never read a book about the Norse that was so utterly dull. Add to that nearly everything is "racist". I'm so sorry I ordered this.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Reilly

    This is a history of the Norse settlements in Iceland and Greenland, of the limited visits they made to North America and of the voluminous myths, hoaxes and phony stories about Vikings visiting North America before Columbus. Campbell is a serious academic historian who prides himself on carefully evaluating evidence and delivering judicious opinions. He is a very good guide on the true parts of the story. His analysis of the Norse settling of Greenland around 900 AD followed by their abandonmen This is a history of the Norse settlements in Iceland and Greenland, of the limited visits they made to North America and of the voluminous myths, hoaxes and phony stories about Vikings visiting North America before Columbus. Campbell is a serious academic historian who prides himself on carefully evaluating evidence and delivering judicious opinions. He is a very good guide on the true parts of the story. His analysis of the Norse settling of Greenland around 900 AD followed by their abandonment of it around 1400 is excellent. He presents a sensible and well argued reading of all of the archaeological and written evidence. He presents a careful and well balanced picture of the significance of the one inarguable Norse settlement in North America at L'Anse aux Meadows, at the eastern tip of Newfoundland. He argues that it was a short lived base for sailors. It was never a real settlement and it was abandoned after a few years. He also examines the very few genuine Norse artifacts found in Canada and America. He is not as good at dealing with the dreamers, conmen, phonies, mystics, and fools who claimed to discover evidence of pre-Columbian Viking settlements everywhere from Florida to Minnesota. Campbell looks at each of the many claims. He outlines the claims, he reviews the evidence offered in support and he outlines all of the evidence and science that debunk the claim. He usually then very mildly notes that the claims are "unsupported" or "inconsistent with the scientific results". Campbell misses the most interesting part of the story. The various characters who championed Viking runestones, Viking castles, Viking preserved bodies, Viking swords, and Viking writings on rocks and in caves were fascinating. We don't get a real sense of those American originals. Campbell does not try to decide, for most of them, whether they were just wrong, or deluded, or intentionally crooked. The result is a dry telling of a very human story. Campbell does do an excellent job at suggesting that racism drove the desire to find a Viking foundation for America. Nativist did not like the story that an Italian discovered America. Racist did not like the idea that American Indians built the huge mound cities of the Midwest. Scandinavians wanted to put themselves into the middle of the American story. Campbell notes that an amazingly high percentage of the claimed Viking artifacts where discovered by Americans of Scandinavian descent. He makes this useful distinction. " In this book I use the term "Norse" to denote the medieval people of Scandinavia and "Viking" to denote the imaginary race invented in the nineteenth century" This is a solid well balanced summary of the state of the evidence in this controversial area.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

  4. 5 out of 5

    Anne

  5. 5 out of 5

    Norgri

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jared Ross

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mere

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ben

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bix

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  12. 5 out of 5

    James Harrison

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steve Walker

  15. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helen Hardy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dusan Fischer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel Holly

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ned and Tessa Freer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  21. 5 out of 5

    Murnau’s stolen skull

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anders Haaland

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tim

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cherry

  25. 5 out of 5

    Henry Adams

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jen Stiles

  27. 4 out of 5

    Johan Nordsten

  28. 4 out of 5

    Stefani

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Reinoehl

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  31. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Bianchi

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Thommesen

  33. 4 out of 5

    T

  34. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

  35. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Hudson

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