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A Viking Voyage: Retracing Leif Erikkson's Journey in an Authentic Viking Knarr Paperback – 3 Aug 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press; 1st ed. edition (3 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091877830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091877835
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.4 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,806,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

In the year 1000, the Viking Leif Eriksson sailed from Greenland to a place the Vikings called Vinland, somewhere on the northeast coast of America. Nearly a thousand years later, in 1995, the American adventurer W Hodding Carter became obsessed with Eriksson's voyage, asking himself, "Why not retrace the Viking voyages to the New World?"

Over the next three years Hodding Carter set about retracing Eriksson's voyage from Greenland to L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Newfoundland, believed by many to be the location of the legendary Vinland. However, there were a few obstacles, such as the author's lack of money, crew and expertise--he concedes from the outset, "I knew nothing about sailing. I had not even read a single Patrick O'Brian novel." A Viking Voyage records his extraordinary and often foolhardy adventures as he builds a Viking cargo ship, or "knarr", called Snorri, hires a crew of eight men and eventually sets sail on one of the greatest, but also hazardous voyages of ancient times. The naivety of Hodding Carter's dream as opposed to its often reckless reality is unwittingly amusing and incongruous, as the crew sit around in full Viking regalia sending and reading e-mails, and experiencing both the terror and the wonder of close calls with both icebergs and hungry polar bears as the Snorri battles its way to Vinland. In retracing the Viking voyage, the author concludes that "we did not find a new continent, a new passageway, or even a new way to use the bathroom in an open boat, but we did discover what it felt like to sail into the wind, heading straight for an iceberg, albeit unknowingly". Even Lief Eriksson would have been impressed. --Jerry Brotton

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 20 May 2004
Format: Paperback
To some, Americans are best examplified as a people "blundering into success". This book is certain to reinforce that view. Carter relates the assembling of an "unlikely crew" to duplicate a "Viking" voyage from Greenland to North America. The voyage required two attempts [as you learn from the map preceding the text], and succeeded only after hilarious and desperate adventures. But it did succeed.
Carter's account is intensely personal as he explains his motives to duplicate the "Viking" [apparently Carter was never taught the word "Norse"] voyages leading to the "Vinland" landings. Long debated, "Vinland" became a real place with the revelation of a Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland-Labrador in the 1960s. With Norse voyages to "Vinland" recorded in 1000 CE, Carter's target date of exactly one millenium later seemed appropriate.
The only hitches were that Carter didn't know how to sail, didn't know anything about the Norse, their history, their boatbuilding techniques or their navigation methods. A shaky start compounded by a crew of similar qualifications. During the voyages, personality clashes make their inevitable appearance. Although discussions about the route to follow are understandable, the debate over toilet paper use seems almost a diversion. The primary issue of discussion is the rudder - it's shape, use and mounting. That question remains fundamental since the rudder determines as much as the winds which track is best.
By the time you close the final page of this book, it's difficult to avoid feeling emotionally soiled. Carter reaches his thirty-sixth birthday on this voyage. The writing, however, is more in line with that of a sixteen-year old.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By T Brown on 23 Oct 2000
Format: Paperback
Reading "A Viking Voyage" it is not difficult to draw parallels with Thor Heyerdahl's "The Kon-Tiki Expedition" - both involve building reconstructions of old sailing vessels, a Viking ship and Peruvian raft respectively. Unfortunately, I think that's where the parallels end. Heyerdahl's book is full of charm and excitement, Carter's book has non of these qualities. Seemingly the majority of "A Viking Voyage" is taken up with in-fighting between the crew and the people building the boat. Only until the last quarter of the book do we get any narrative of the actual voyage.
The book does go over the relationships between the crew and the problems thrown up by being a "leader" of expeditions. So if you are looking for text book for middle managers then this book gets 5 out of 5. However, this is poor fare for avid travel readers.
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By Ian Davies on 29 Aug 2013
Format: Paperback
A good travel adventure book for the budding explorer. Details the life and community of a group of amateur sailors taking a home made knarr from Iceland to America. Well written.
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