Endorsements for Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir

“Whether you’re a seasoned tourist or an armchair traveler with Iceland on your mind, you’ll want to start by reading Viking Voyager, an account of place and people no tourist guide can provide. This is the real stuff: growing up in a stark landscape of fjords and volcanoes, where harsh winters and seafaring disasters lurk in the legacy, where resourcefulness, stoicism, hard work, and family loyalty are prized, and where, like the Saga heroes, youth are expected to make their way abroad as a test of courage and ingenuity. This is Sverrir Sigurdsson’s story, an extraordinary tale of what it means to be Icelandic, how tenacity of spirit enabled a small country to navigate its way through hardship and war to contribute on the larger stage of human endeavors. Beautifully written with a fast-paced narrative style, Viking Voyager is essential reading for any adventure-seeking tourist in the 21st century.”— Paula Harrell, historian, adjunct professor, Georgetown University, author of Asia for the Asians and Sowing the Seeds of Change

“This memoir is one heck of a good read! Viking Voyager offers a fascinating glimpse into Sverrir Sigurdsson’s often tough upbringing in Iceland, which was relatively underdeveloped until set on a more prosperous path by Allied bases during World War II. Admitted to the best high school in Reykjavík, a rigorous multilingual curriculum set him in good stead for a career with international organizations. We accompany him to Finland to study architecture—while mastering one of the most difficult European languages— before enjoying his many adventures and insights into working with different cultures around the world.”— D. A. Spruzen, author of The Blitz Business

Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir is a captivating account of the author’s journey from Iceland to various places in Asia and Africa and finally landing a career in the World Bank in Washington, DC. Besides giving an entertaining account of life growing up in Iceland, at the time a poor and struggling country, Sverrir manages to get the reader to understand the complex issues surrounding development. As he describes in the book, Icelandic culture is one of hardiness toughened by ‘severe spankings from Mother Nature,’ where people carried on in the face of calamities, and children worked like grownups by age ten. This Nordic culture and work ethic, combined with a spirit of looking outwards to the rest of the world is at the heart of Iceland’s success, and it offers a useful lesson for the developing world.”— Inder Sud, President, World Bank Group Alumni, and author of Reforming Foreign Aid: Reinvent the World Bank.

“This is the story of a latter-day Viking, an adventurous spirit who left his native Iceland at an early age to study abroad. Having graduated as an architect from a Finnish university, he went on a mission around the globe with the UN and the World Bank, doing his bit to help make the world a better place. This mission brought him to the Middle-East, through Sub-Saharan Africa to Southeast Asia and finally back to Europe during turbulent times. Throughout his journey he was sustained by his ancestors’ heritage of stubborn resilience in the face of formidable challenges.”— Jón Baldvin Hannibalsson, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs (1988-95) and ambassador to the United States (1998-2002).

“Who among us wouldn’t want descendants to learn from our life? Of the hundreds of autobiographies available, perhaps one is worth reading. This is it. The origin of Viking Voyager is a land where 200 years ago, 25 percent of the population starved to death; where a widow had to have a license to ‘handle her own affairs’ and where farm life was a ‘study in minimalism.’ Here is a story of survival and success, self-generated. From Roots to a Viking Adventure and, finally, Home. The story is unusual because it includes a life of building schools in many parts of the world. The lesson at the end is summarized thusly: ‘I could collaborate with anyone from any background as long as the person wasn’t a jackass.’ Fair enough. All stories are told, perhaps with the ingenious pen of his wife and co-author, in hilarious and self-effacing detail. This is a story which gladdens the heart and makes one wish for more.”— Stephen Heyneman, Professor (emeritus), International Education Policy, Vanderbilt University

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Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir

(A Memoir )


Copyright © 2006 Veronica Li. All rights reserved.