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The Emigrants

(The Emigrants #1)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  4,411 ratings  ·  292 reviews
Considered one of Sweden's greatest 20th-century writers, Vilhelm Moberg created Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson to portray the joys and tragedies of daily life for early Swedish pioneers in America. His consistently faithful depiction of these humble people's lives is a major strength of the Emigrant Novels.

Moberg's extensive research in the papers of Swedish emigrants in
Paperback, 366 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Minnesota Historical Society Press (first published January 1st 1949)
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4.18  · 
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 ·  4,411 ratings  ·  292 reviews

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Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
History and literature in happy marriage!

I have grown increasingly impatient with historical fiction in recent years, but this opus magnum in four heavy volumes by Vilhelm Moberg is still one of my favourite reading experiences of all time. I must have read the books at least three or four times, and I can't even recall how many times I watched the well-made movie. I even went so far as to travel to Karlshamn and to stand in reverence and awe in front of the Emigrant Monument, featuring the two
Diane Barnes
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love reading pioneer novels; books about hardy people going to a new land, building a home, making a living from the land with hard work and determination. In some cases, when emigrating to the new world from the old, it also meant leaving relatives and friends behind forever, learning a new language and new customs, and coping with unforseen circumstances with no help at all, just your own intelligence and ability to work.

This book gives us the story of Karl Oscar and his wife Kristina from t
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I came to these stories when, recovering from 'flu, I happened upon the film of this book (in Swedish with subtitles) on the television. I come from Swedish-American stock, and I was astounded at how closely the story in the film mirrored the experience of my own ancestors, who left Sweden at about the same time and arrived in the same place in Minnesota territory about the same time. I couldn't find the books, but a cousin had an ancient, cheap and tacky paperback edition from the 50s or 60s sh ...more
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up by chance for something to read while visiting my poor mom who had a stroke and was moved to a nursing home. A 2nd generation Swedish American who spoke only Swedish as a child, I cannot help but marvel at what she and her parents and grandparents went through. The harsh economic conditions in Sweden in the 1850's, the grueling journey in a tiny boat, the serious misinformation these brave people had. Well, it's a marvel we're all here. Hang in there, mom, 93 years old.
Matt Luedke
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm about half Swedish, and after I read "The Namesake," which I loved, I was curious about the story of my own family coming to the US. I really don't know much about my specific family, and sadly both grandparents with Swedish connections have died so I can't ask them anything. So I read the first book in this series to kind of use as a fictional surrogate. The main family comes to the Midwest at around the same time as my ancestors, so it's a reasonable substitution I suppose. I enjoyed it an ...more
Sep 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Who is Vilhelm Moberg? He is a person I would very much like to thank for his gift of this classic 1951 first-in-the-series book of historical fiction THE EMIGRANTS, translated from the Swedish by Gustaf Lannestock. Moberg grew up in Sweden hearing first-hand the stories of those who emigrated to the United States and then, after undertaking much careful research, has provided us with this insightful treasure. Moberg's prose in translation is not especially elegant, but the impact of the conten ...more
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Utvandrarna", "The Emigrants", was published 1949 and is the first in a tetralogy about the Swedish emigrants during the 1800's. The conditions for the Swedish people back then were terrible, especially for the farmers. The ground was rocky and dry, nothing grew. The possibilities were very limited in the country-side. The men ended up with the same kind of work as their parents, often taking over their work on the farm, or becoming a farm boy somewhere else. The women were married to other far ...more
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a truely wonderful book that I am very happy to have read. Its amazing to read about what my ancestors lives might have been like (I am Swedish myself). I highly recommend every Swede and American to read this book!
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply THE BEST historical fiction I’ve ever read. So much history. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series. Thanks to Mark for picking them up at a library book sale for a quarter each. ☺ ...more
Apr 10, 2018 rated it liked it
About 3 years ago I watched the musical "Kristina från Duvemåla" which is an adaption of this book series and now I decided that I wanted to read the books. I feel like this book was a bit dragged out but otherwise I really enjoyed it.
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to April by: Par Ericsson
Effectively conveys what it may have felt like to be an emigrant to the United States in the 1840s.
Nothing I've read has ever come close to making me "feel" the emigrant experience.
Things that struck me:
- how desperately badly off were many rural farmers in Sweden;
- how little information emigrants had on which to base their (often life-and-death) decisions
- how incredibly dangerous was the voyage over.
Because of how hard it is to get to their destination (Minnesota) and to survive the early
Kip Herbst
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a great historical fiction of Swedish Emigrants during the mid 1800's.
When I'm reading it I can picture our great-grandparents enduring similar events. The book is not romanticized at all, very realistic including the grit and hardship, but it shows what makes our country great; gratefulness for WORK, freedom to work hard and be diligent, and importance of God, His principles, and relationship -not what man distorts and twists to his own power and greed. I've read the first two books in
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this back in the 70s in Swedish along with the other following books. Every Swede reads this suite of books. It is like impossible to not read them. Moberg's work is a classic. I wonder what I would think if I were to read them today?
Jul 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best series in the world. I can’t even begin to try to explain how good these books are. I adore every single page in them. The writing, the story the author....they are spellbinding. Words can’t make them justice. Read them!
Chrille Andersson
This was one of the best books that I've read in my whole life. I can't wait to read the rest in the series.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Read in high school, and again two years ago. Wonderful series. I learned a lot about the old country and the hard times caused by dividing land among too many people. Also, when they move to Minnesota, they move to the area I live in.
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The loveliest of emigrant stories about the first to leave Sweden. I feel like this one is written in my DNA. Excited to continue the series.
Anna Walden
*read for school
2,5 stars.
Julie Sucha Anderson
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I believe I've found the series (3 more) I want to read this summer. Fascinating read of Swedish immigrants leaving their world and venturing to an unknown in America.
Susie Torres
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so good. It gave me perspective on what life was like in 1850s Sweden and why people immigrated to the US. It also illustrated the horrible travel conditions. I found the movie on Amazon and watched it afterwards. The movie went into the second book. Now I am eagerly awaiting it's arrival so I can continue the series. The author was so descriptive that I felt that I was there. The book was way better than the movie as is the norm. I highly recommend this book. My ancestors came fro ...more
Sebastian Sampallo
It was a long time since I read a book that was not fantasy. 11 books actually. But despite the lack of magic, dragons and war, this book was very captivating and interesting. Since I started reading in february I have not read any book in Swedish, and it was quite pleasent to read a book in my maternal language again. Not that I have any issues with reading in English, it feels quite natural, but in some way I feel like I can understand more nuances in Swedish.

Utvandrarna (or the Emigrants) is
Sep 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
As a young child in Sweden I watched the film version of 'The Emigrants' on television with amazement. Still today, fourty odd years later some of those scenes are as vivid in my mind as they were then. Strong, painful pictures filled with emotions.

Vilhelm painted a very real life picture of how life was like during a particular hard time in Swedish history, especially for many farmers in that part of Sweden - Småland, and their dreams of how life could be like in a country filled with promises.
Dec 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone around Thanksgiving
This book opened my eyes to the reasons behind why people would pack up everything they owned, leave loved ones, and travel thousands of miles in terrible, unsafe conditions to a land they knew nothing about so they could start a new life. In school we were always told that immigrants came to America to escape religious persecution and poverty in their native lands. This story reiterates this and lets the reader walk in the emigrants' shoes, witness their struggles and see them slave on their fa ...more
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Accidentally ordered this on my Kindle when I was trying to order The Emigrants by W.G. Sebalt (whoops) but ended up enjoying it. Written by a famous Swedish author, it's the first of a trilogy following the Swedish emigration to the U.S. (Minnesota). This first book covers the emigrants' life in Sweden and their reasons for leaving and their journey by sea to the U.S. It goes on & on at times about whatever theme the author is trying to get across (particularly when trying to explain everyo ...more
Aug 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the Swedish culture and motivations for some of those who came to America in the 19th century. I highly recommend!

The story had a stronger start than finish. The second half had some repetitive sections, but remained effective in its imagery. I thought some of the internal stories that the characters tell were not completely relevant.

Initial response: My mom gave me this book and the next in the series. I hope I can find the remaining 2 in the 4-part series. Excellent, so
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The first book in a series of four, this is a gripping story about a group of people from a poor Swedish farming community and their decision to emigrate to America. Both the local conditions in rural Sweden and the realities of the voyage overseas boat trip were portrayed vividly. I developed a new understanding and appreciation for what the Swedish immigrants to the U.S. endured. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.
Susan Peterson
Aug 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Swedish-Americans, tthose interested in the history of immigration
The Emigrants is an unadorned story of why a handful of characters emigrated from Sweden to the U.S. during the middle part of the 19th century. It's a good reminder of the high cost of emigration at a time when a laborer would have to save five years of income to afford a boat ticket, when a voyage across the Atlantic took two or three months and could cost you your life, and when moving to another continent meant never seeing friends and family ever again.
May 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Very readable book about the emigration of an extended family and neighbors from Sweden to the US in 1850. This is the first of three in the series and is the story of their decision to come to the US and their horrific trip across the ocean. How lucky we are to live where we do and when we do! Thanks to Johanna's mom for the recommendation.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a hard book to get into, but once into it, I couldn't wait to see how it ended . . . and who survived the journey from Sweden to America. Definitely an eye-opening book to realize, on a personal level, all the sacrifices emigrants to America made.
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Play Book Tag: The Emigrants (Book 1) by Vilhelm Moberg - 3 stars 2 13 Jan 03, 2019 06:07AM  

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Vilhelm Moberg was a Swedish author, best known for his Emigrant series of novels about Swedish emigrants to America. He also wrote other novels and plays and also participated in public debates about the Swedish monarchy, bureaucracy, and corruption.

Other books in the series

The Emigrants (4 books)
  • Unto a Good Land (The Emigrants, #2)
  • The Settlers (The Emigrants, #3)
  • The Last Letter Home (The Emigrants, #4)
“أينما تذهب سوف أذهب، وحيث تموت سأموت، وهناك سيكون مدفني” 3 likes
“Besides the 254 peasants and cotters who owned and lived on assessed land, there were 39 persons listed as artisans and apprentices, 92 squatters, 11 enlisted soldiers, 6 innkeepers, 5 horse traders, 3 house-to-house peddlers. There were also 274 farm servants, 23 bedesmen and bedeswomen, 104 “ordinary poor,” 18 sick and crippled, 11 deaf and dumb, 8 blind, 6 nearly blind, 13 almost lame, 4 lame, 5 near idiots, 3 idiots, 1 half idiot, 3 whores and 2 thieves. On the last page of the church book, under the heading “End of the Parish,” were listed 27 persons who had moved away and never been further heard from.” 1 likes
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