978-1-883642-56-3 / 1883642566

The Farfarers: Before the Norse

by Farley Mowat




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About the book:

Farley Mowat's niggling doubts began in the summer of 1966, while he was tooling around the Canadian Arctic aboard a single-engine Otter float plane. The previous year, he had published the influential Westviking, a book that presaged the now widely held opinion that the Norse arrived in North America some 500 years before Columbus. But what Mowat found that summer of '66--troubling evidence that would be buttressed by determined research and field work over the next 30-odd years--convinced him that he had gotten it all wrong. Another group of Europeans, whom Mowat calls the "Albans," beat the Norsemen to the punch by a few hundred years, arriving in North America as they were both fleeing the rapacious Vikings and pursuing precious walrus ivory.

A professional scientist but an amateur anthropologist, Mowat likes to stir the pot--and he does it well, with a combination of scientific rigor, good-natured wit, and old-fashioned storytelling. (It's easy to imagine Mowat as an ideal companion out on the monotonous tundra, spinning endless stories over wine and cigarettes.) Interspersed among discussions of the Albans' culture, ethnography, and use of technology, Mowat's speculations on their trips and travails in fictional "vignettes" fill in the "immense lacunae" in the historical record. But his reasoning is always so sound--and his narrative so captivating--that you'll find it hard not to join Mowat's speculative journey with the Farfarers. --Paul Hughes

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