The History of Iceland
U of Minnesota Press, 2000 - 418 pages
Iceland is unique among European societies in having been founded as late as the Viking Age and in having 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 came about with the successful struggle for independence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and 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.