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The History of Iceland

2000
Author:

Gunnar Karlsson

The History of Iceland

The only comprehensive history of Iceland available in English.

This, the only comprehensive history of Iceland available in English, provides an informative overview of the nation’s development from the Viking Age to the present.

This erudite, impeccably researched volume meets a long-standing need for a detailed, scholarly, comprehensive, and authoritative history of Iceland in English, from its earliest human settlement to the present. Written by one of Iceland’s premier historians and a professor at its national university, this will no doubt become the standard, definitive work on Iceland far into the future. Attractively produced and thoroughly indexed, it will serve as a useful reference work and is written in a felicitous style that is eminently readable for any general reader interested in the history of this remarkable nation. Recommended for all academic libraries as well as public ones with a clientele interested in the Scandinavian peoples.

Choice

The only comprehensive history of Iceland available in English.

Unique among European societies, Iceland was founded late, in the Viking Age, and has copious written and archaeological sources about its origin. Gunnar Karlsson, that country’s premier historian, chronicles the age of the sagas, consulting them to describe an era without a monarch or central authority. Equating this prosperous time with the golden age of antiquity in world history, Karlsson then marks a correspondence between the Dark Ages of Europe and Iceland’s "dreary period," which started with the loss of political independence in the late thirteenth century and culminated with an epoch of poverty and humility, especially during the early Modern Age.

Iceland’s renaissance began with the successful struggle for independence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and continued with the industrial and technical modernization of the first half of the twentieth century. Karlsson describes the rise of nationalism as Iceland’s mostly poor peasants set about breaking with Denmark, and he shows how Iceland in the twentieth century slowly caught up economically with its European neighbors.

Awards

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

The History of Iceland

Gunnar Karlsson is professor of history at the University of Iceland, Reykjavik, and is the author of several textbooks on Icelandic history.

The History of Iceland

This erudite, impeccably researched volume meets a long-standing need for a detailed, scholarly, comprehensive, and authoritative history of Iceland in English, from its earliest human settlement to the present. Written by one of Iceland’s premier historians and a professor at its national university, this will no doubt become the standard, definitive work on Iceland far into the future. Attractively produced and thoroughly indexed, it will serve as a useful reference work and is written in a felicitous style that is eminently readable for any general reader interested in the history of this remarkable nation. Recommended for all academic libraries as well as public ones with a clientele interested in the Scandinavian peoples.

Choice

It is not easy to tell a thousand years of history in just over 400 pages that also include an index and an extensive bibliography. Gunnar Karlsson however manages quite well, telling us the story of the more than thousand years since Iceland was colonised by Vikings in a reasonably light informative style.

Nordic Business Report

Karlsson is memorably quotable.

Germanic Notes and Reviews

The History of Iceland is richly illustrated with maps and charts. Useful to a diverse audience, from the undergraduate to the professional historian.

The Historian

The History of Iceland is as unique as its subject, being the only single-volume history of Iceland in English. This book will be the definitive overview of Icelandic history for a long time.

European Review of History

The History of Iceland

Contents

Foreword page
Note on Icelandic Names
Note on Orthography

Introduction

Part I COLONIZATION AND COMMONWEALTH, c.870-1262

1.1 Colonization
1.2 Paganism and Poetry
1.3 Constitution
1.4 The Exploration of the West
1.5 Christianization
1.6 The Church
1.7 Population and Sustenance
1.8 Social Stratification
1.9 Honour, Revenge and Feud
1.10 Identity
1.11 Sagas
1.12 Concentration of Power
1.13 Sturlungaold: an Internal Crisis
1.14 The End of an Era

Part II UNDER FOREIGN RULE, 1262-C.1800

2.1 A Dependency of the Norwegian King
2.2 The Victory of the Church
2.3 Collapse of the North Atlantic Empire
2.4 Iceland the Fishing Camp
2.5 Plague without Rats
2.6 The English Century

v
vi Contents

2.7 Enter the.Germans
2.8 Reformation
2.9 Lutheran Society
2.10 Trade Monopoly
2.11 The Gloomy 17th Century
2.12 Absolutism
2.13 Cultural Renaissance
2.14 People and Production around 1700
2.15 Educational Revolution without Schools
2.16 The Birth of Reykjavik
2.17 Catastrophe
2.18 From Factory Village to Administrative Centre
2.19 "A Desperate Land"

Part III A PRIMITIVE SOCIETY BUILDS A STATE, 1809-1918

3.1 An Abortive Revolution
3.2 Romanticism and National Awakening
3.3 Jon SigurSsson and the New Althing
3.4 The Search for Status in a Constitutional Monarchy
3.5 The Danish Side
3.6 Towards Legislative Powers in 1874
3.7 Economic Growth with Old Methods
3.8 The Crisis in Rural Society
3.9 Emigration
3.10 The Age of Decked Fishing Vessels
3.11 Freedom of Trade and the Cooperative Movement
3.12 Standard of Living
3.13 Education
3.14 Democracy for Farmers
3.15 Struggle towards Home Rule
3.16 Liberation of Women
3.17 Towards Autonomy in 1918

Contents

Part IV THE GREAT 20TH-CENTURY TRANSFORMATION

4.1 Industrial Revolution in Fishing
4.2 Modernization of Life
4.3 The New Working-Class Movement
4.4 A New System of Political Parties
4.5 The Depression in Iceland
4.6 War and Occupation
4.7 Republic
4.8 Postwar Politics
4.9 The Welfare State
4.10 Iceland in a Cold War
4.11 Independence Struggle on Fishing Grounds
4.12 The Fight against Inflation
4.13 Enter Women
4.14 Life is Still Fish
4.15 Break and Continuity in Icelandic History

Bibliography
Index