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A History of the Swedish People: Volume II: From Renaissance to Revolution Paperback – February 7, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

In the second volume of his vivid history of the Swedes, Vilhelm Moberg brings his focus on the common people to bear on a period that included two dramatic revolts: the national insurrection under Engelbrekt and the last desperate attempt of the Smaland peasantry to retain their medieval liberties - a defiance bloodily crushed by King Gustav Vasa. Using a wide variety of local historical source materials, Moberg studies the ruthless monarch Vasa and his two tragic opponents: the psychopathic Christian II of Denmark and Nils Dracke, the leader of the Smalanders. Furthermore, he examines the enigmatic and wide appeal of the Swedish forest and investigates the origins of the Swedish hatred of Danes, which was implanted by propaganda through songs commissioned by Karl VIII's chancellery. Moberg's history has been widely hailed by the Swedish press as a masterpiece of popular history writing and has been an all-time best-seller in Swedish bookstores.

About the Author

Vilhelm Moberg (1898-1972) was one of Sweden's greatest writers of the twentieth century and is well known for his remarkable The Emigrants (1949), a four-volume epic tale of Swedish immigration to America. Paul Britten Austin is a translator and historian. Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987) was an acclaimed Swedish economist and politician. He won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1974.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press; 1 edition (February 7, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816646570
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816646579
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #476,834 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Vilhelm Moberg (1898-1972) was one of Sweden's greatest writers of the twentieth century and is well known for his remarkable "The Emigrants" (1949), a four-volume epic of Swedish immigration to America.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
From the Renaissance, to the modern era! Mr. Moberg continues the saga of the Nordic lands, describing the deeds of the heroic rebel Englebrecht Engelbrechtson, the suppression of the commoners by the king Gustaf Vasa, the rebellion of MY ANCESTORS the Smalanders, and many wars between Sweden and Norway for dominance of the Baltic region. This time period saw the arrival of Lutheran philosophy in the church. The careers of the great kings: Gustavus Adolphus, hero of the Thirty Years War; Charles XII, and his heroic but fatal struggle with Peter the Great of Russia. The advent of the Age of Enlightenment...to the Industrial Age, and massive emmigration to North America. All through this, the average Swede soldiered on...
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Format: Paperback
The common man and woman in Sweden, like people everywhere, have had to contend with the great lords who taxed them unfairly and treated them as expendable cannon fodder in their numerous wars. For Sweden this included constant warfare with its neighbor Denmark. A war between these two Nordic neighbors seemed to break out every 50 years or so from 1400 to 1800. These wars, in part, were due to questions regarding whether Scandinavia would be ruled as a united kingdom from Denmark, or whether Denmark, Sweden, or Norway would each constitute an independent nation-state.

Throughout these various wars and depredations, Moberg observes that it was the forest that served as a refuge for the common Swedish peasant. There he could retreat from invading armies. Many of these armies were constituted of German mercenaries--bringing to mind the Hessians sent by England to fight the American colonists who were my ancestors. The forest also served as the proper venue for guerilla warfare where the peasants often had the upper hand when pitted against the King's soldiers. Moberg points out that it was only in Denmark where Scandinavians were reduced to serfdom, as the plains of Jutland did not offer the respite provided by the forests of Sweden or the mountains of Norway.

In times of famine the forest was also a source of food. The Swedish peasant was able to use the membrane between the bark and wood of the tree as an ingredient for bread.

These accounts of the forest as a refuge calls to mind what my grandmother once told me about the American Civil War--as told to her, in turn, by her own grandmother (my great-great-grandmother):

"When the soldiers came they hid the cattle in the woods," said my grandmother.
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Format: Paperback
Vilhelm Moberg (1898-1973) was one of Sweden’s leading men of letters, chiefly remembered today for his peerless emigrant tetralogy. His Min Svenska Historia was his life’s work, and only completed after his death. Published in Swedish in two volumes, this book is the English translation of the second book, taking the history of Sweden from Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson and the dissolution of the Kalmar Union through to Gustav Vasa.

Unlike most history books of the era, though, this one is written with a definite slant. Moberg became disillusioned with the heroic history that he had been taught in his school days, finding that the great men and women of Swedish history actually had feet of clay that made their enshrining ludicrous. Embracing socialism in everything, he sought to write a book that reached past the kings and bigwigs of history, and told the story of the men and women that made the country everything that it was.

The book is quite iconoclastic, poking fun at many people who figure large in other history books – kings, soldiers, and magnates. In many ways it is a book ahead of its time, refusing to genuflect before anyone, and making for some humorous and fascinating reading. My one complaint against this book is that it contains no index, which limits its usefulness for everyday use (at least in the 1973 edition that I have access to).

So, if you are interested in reading a history of Sweden that is not like any other, or if you are interested in reading the thoughts of the great Vilhelm Moberg, then I highly recommend this book to you.
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There is a great deal of important information in this book, and volume 1. The author honestly warns the reader that the books are written from a socio-anthropological viewpoint. Though the history is interesting, much of the commentary appears to be interpretive. I know the author is well qualified to interpret, but tends to be boring. These books are definately worth the read, because they are a different view of Swedish history. They will not, however, be my resourse for future reference.
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If you like Vol. 1, you will love Vol. 2. After visiting with relatives in Sweden, I could easily see why they feel as they do about their political and religious position, after reading these books. Highly recommended.
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I really ejoyed reading this book. It is very easy to read and is full of information. It is not a text book but a great book of stories about the history of Sweden.
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I purchased this book as, there are so few books on swedish history. I recently went on a long journey to trace my grandparents roots back there. Now that I've found some of my family back there, I wanted to understand the history. I loved reading Mobergs Immigrant series also.
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A History of the Swedish People: Volume II: From Renaissance to Revolution
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