Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Before Columbus: The Leif Eriksson Expedition

Before Columbus: The Leif Eriksson Expedition, Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Landmark Books, (Random House, 2003), pb., 98 pp.

I remember enjoying Landmark books when I was a kid, so I anticipated reading some to my boys. This one is a good tool for telling the basic story of the Viking discovery of the New World. It is not a riveting retelling, but it covers the basics well. An author’s note tells you clearly what was based on data from the old sagas and what was invented by the author to fill in the blanks. That helps a lot.

One intriguing thing is that according to the author, she did not have data about Leif and Erik’s response to the introduction of Christianity by King Olaf. Without concrete data, she tells the story with Leif and Erik rejecting Christianity and holding to the old Norse gods. I wonder why she chose to present the story that way. Since we have already dealt with the Greek and Norse gods and how even in their own descriptions they are inferior to the One true God of the Bible, this was no big deal for us. However, if you have not crossed this bridge yet, then you would need to be prepared for it.

In summary, this book is useful for the history, but is not nearly as enticing as many others we have read. It is short, though, so if your children are accustomed to listening you can work through it.

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