In The Story of Scandinavia, political scholar Stein Ringen chronicles more than 1,200 years of drama, economic rise and fall, crises, kings and queens, war, peace, language and culture.
Scandinavian history has been one of dramatic discontinuities of collapse and restarts, from the Viking Age to the Age of Perpetual War to the modern age today. For a thousand years, the Scandinavian countries were kingdoms of repression where monarchs played at the game of being European powers, at the expense of their own populations.
The brand we now know as “Scandinavia” is a recent invention. During most of its history, Denmark and Sweden, and to some degree Norway, were bloody enemies. These sentiments of enmity have not been fully settled. Under the surface of collaboration remain undercurrents of hatred, envy, contempt and pity.
What does it mean today to be Scandinavian? For the author, whose identity is Scandinavian but his life European, this masterly history is a personal exploration as well as a narrative of compelling scope.