American Vikings: How the Norse Sailed into the Lands and Imaginations of America

American Vikings: How the Norse Sailed into the Lands and Imaginations of America by Martyn Whittock (Mayflower Lives; Tales of Valhalla) is a vivid and highly readable history that teases out the most likely scenarios regarding early Norse exploration of North America.  

Medieval sagas first recorded in Iceland in the 13th century CE claimed that Vikings reached land now known as North America somewhere around the year 1000 CE. Examining evidence from Erik the Red's Saga and The Saga of the Greenlanders, among others, Whittock teases out clues of topography for the most likely location of the North American settlement known as Vinland--and how much further beyond it Norse settlers may have ventured.

The true history alone--full of adventure and internal conflict, including both trade and confrontation with various Native American peoples they encountered--would make for a fascinating book. However, Whittock goes beyond the factual stories of Viking expeditions to the continent and delves into myths concerning American Vikings as well, examining hoaxes meant to "prove" that early Norse settlers ventured far into the interior of what would become the United States (often suspiciously close to parts of the country that would later develop large Scandinavian populations). Weaving in other origin stories of European culture in the Americas, including legendary Irish expeditions, the first English colonies, and Christopher Columbus's voyages, Whittock presents astute observations about what each creation story has meant at different times in the history of the United States. Popular-history readers will be enthralled. --Kristen Allen-Vogel, information services librarian at Dayton Metro Library

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