“The Vikings” by Robert Wernick

Sometimes i just want to read something different! This book, downloaded on impulse to my Kindle, served very well.

The Vikings were totally omitted from my long ago history classes. Maybe they were too scary? But now, with all the educational emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) we should study the Vikings as masters of science and technology. The science they developed was navigation, and the technology was ship building. With these advantages, they conquered vast areas and amassed great wealth. I didn’t know they were the ancestors of the Normans, who conquered Britain and thus created English, and to some extent the modern geopolitical map.

I especially enjoyed Chapter 5, Pioneers in the Land of Ice. Iceland, Greenland and the colonization of North America fascinate me. The Vikings who tried to colonize North America GAVE UP in the face of resistance by the native people. The Greenland colony failed when the Little Ice Age reduced Viking mobility. And Iceland struggled through, ceding its independence to Norway in the process.

I visited Iceland about 15 years ago, a three day stopover after a trip to Scotland. It was June, and barely got dark at night. I hope to go back one day and get out of the capital city to see farms and smaller towns. I’ll travel to Scandinavia when the price comes down, or I win the lottery.

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