Amy Sturgis's Reviews > In Search of First Contact: The Vikings of Vinland, the Peoples of the Dawnland, and the Anglo-American Anxiety of Discovery

In Search of First Contact by Annette Kolodny
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 21st-century, native-america, us-history, political-thought, medieval-history, canadian-history
Read from July 05 to 19, 2012

I'll make this a brief review, as I'm currently writing a longer one for publication in Reason. This book is both well written and well worth reading.

Kolodny considers the two Icelandic sagas that depict Norse in North America (the so-called Vinland Sagas, The Greenlander's Saga and Eirik the Red's Saga) and what they tell us about first contact with Native Americans. She goes on to analyze how the "proof" of the Norse in what would become the United States - both compelling and doubtful, honestly offered and deliberately manufactured - informed an evolving national narrative about America's "Viking past" over time. This is a work about national identity and invincible beliefs; it doesn't offer clear-cut answers (Where exactly was Vinland? Which Native peoples first encountered the Norse?), nor should it. It's a carefully wrought and compelling work of scholarship, and I recommend it to anyone interested in Norse and/or Native American history and the history of U.S. political thought.

Note: Duke University Press provided me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
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Reading Progress

07/05 "I've been waiting for this to be available! I'll be reviewing this for Reason Magazine."
07/10 page 18
4.0% "Even the Prologue i"
07/10 page 19
4.0% "Even the Prologue is fascinating. This bodes well for the rest of the work."
07/14 page 102
23.0% "So well done! I'm riveted."
07/17 page 256
57.0% "\o/"
03/13 marked as: read
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