The Midwestern Vikings: Chicago Tribune reviews Vikings in the Attic

By June Sawyers
Chicago Tribune

Dregni_Vikings coverScandinavian culture, to use a Swedish slant, is more than hardtack and herring.

Eric Dregni grew up fourth-generation Scandinavian in Minnesota of mostly Swedish and Norwegian heritage with a dash of Danish.

He assumed that his family was normal "and our culture simply the way people must live, if they had any sense." Then, when he went into the wider world, he was surprised that not everyone ate "Jell-O-like fish" (that would be lutefisk, to the uninitiated) or "gut-wrenching" meatballs at Christmastime.

Dregni makes clear in this wonderfully entertaining book that he has no intention of making any claim to Scandinavian exceptionalism (as these kind of travel memoirs often do).

Rather, he is more interested in learning why so many Scandinavian-American Midwesterners like himself prefer to drop the hyphens and consider themselves Norwegian or Finnish or Swedish, even though many of them have never been to Scandinavia. What does it mean, he asks, to claim to be Scandinavian "so many times removed?"

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