At first an unruly little republic, the islands soon became tributary to Norway, dwindled into a Danish-Norwegian mercantilist fiefdom, and in 1816 were made a Danish province. Today, however, they are an internally self-governing Danish dependency, with a prosperous export fishery and a rich intellectual life carried out in the local language, Faroese.
Jonathan Wylie, an anthropologist who has done extensive field work in the Faroes, creates here a vivid picture of everyday life and affairs of state over the centuries, using sources ranging from folkloric texts to parliamentary minutes and from census data to travelers' tales. He argues that the Faroes' long economic stagnation preserved an archaic way of life that was seriously threatened by their economic renaissance in the nineteenth century, especially as this was accompanied by a closer political incorporation into Denmark.
The Faroese accommodated increasingly profound social change by selectively restating their literary and historical heritage. Their success depended on domesticating a Danish ideology glorifying "folkish" ways and so claiming a nationality separate from Denmark's. The book concludes by comparing the Faroes' nationality-without-nationhood to the contrasting situations of their closest neighbors, Iceland and Shetland.
The Faroe Islands is an important contribution to Scandinavian as well as regional and ethnic studies and to the growing literature combining the insights and techniques of anthropology and history. Engagingly written and richly illustrated, it will also appeal to scholars in other fields and to anyone intrigued by the lands and peoples of the North.
Jonathan Wylie is with the Anthropology/Archaeology Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With David Margolin, he is coauthor of The Ring of Dancers: Images of Faroese Culture.
From the conquest of the Mediterranean beginning in the third century BC to the destruction of the Roman Empire at the hands of barbarian invaders some seven centuries later, we discover the most critical episodes in Roman history: the spectacular collapse of the 'free' republic, the birth of the age of the 'Caesars', the violent suppression of the strongest rebellion against Roman power, and the bloody civil war that launched Christianity as a world religion.
At the heart of this account are the dynamic, complex but flawed characters of some of the most powerful rulers in history: men such as Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Nero and Constantine. Putting flesh on the bones of these distant, legendary figures, Simon Baker looks beyond the dusty, toga-clad caricatures and explores their real motivations and ambitions, intrigues and rivalries.
The superb narrative, full of energy and imagination, is a brilliant distillation of the latest scholarship and a wonderfully evocative account of Ancient Rome.