I Got A Prime Time Spot

If I had to take a paper newspaper, then I would like Dagens Nyheter's news section, Svenska Dagbladet's arts & entertainment section, no sports section and no business section. SvD is a conservative rag and some of its political columnists are really distasteful, but DN never gets anywhere near SvD's coverage of the historical humanities. DN's arts section is mainly preoccupied with pretentious modern crap, installation artists and poets who will be forgotten three months from now.

So I was very pleased when the editor of SvD's arts essay page (through the good offices of Ãsa Larsson of Ting & Tankar) asked me to write for him about a couple of new books. Getting onto that essay page (and hopefully staying there) has been a latent goal of mine for many years. And I was even more pleased when the piece I submitted was published today: on a Sunday, when people actually had time to read the thing before they tossed the paper into the recycling bin.

Nor was my sunny outlook diminished this evening when I received a letter from an editor at a major monthly mag who, on the strength of the SvD piece, offered me a reviewing gig on the spot.

Editor Ludvig Hertzberg comments on my piece on his blog.


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Bra artikel, däremot blev jag gruvt besviken på ditt anfang-akrostikon. "PEHJ", liksom.

Good work Martin, I enjoyed your review.

Very cool - I was wondering when you'd have something to say about "Sveriges historia".

By Akhôrahil (not verified) on 01 Nov 2009 #permalink

Congratulations, Martin, on your first Understreckare! I read it with great pleasure, although I'm not certain I will read the books. I'm not a great fan of either Harisson or Welinder. We do agree on the supremicy of SvD:s cultural coverage, but I do not accept your view of the paper as a "coservative rag". Acctually, their more and more desperate flirtaition with pressumed younger readers are making SvD lesser and lesser interesting. I gave up on DN a long time ago - perhaps I will have to retreat to Upsala Nya Tidning ...

Swedish libertarians? Are those anything like the US sort?

Swedes with the opinions of US libertarians are generally seen as batshit insane here. In the US political spectrum, Swedish mainstream libertarians correspond to "hippie commies".

An interesting review indeed. As long as there are too few archaeologists who can understand and use historical documents and still fewer historians who have any clue of the archaeological method and material, treating the Early History (I mean the period ca. 800 - 1250) will remain a problematic issue. Having a very small past as "a future Medievalist" myself I have always had a special interest in this question.
Perhaps it is true that archaeology and history are only for fun but nevertheless I wouldn't say it aloud while applying for research grants. And actually I would, though, hope that understanding the past really is in some way useful. At least I'm going to continue imagining so.
It is, of course, possible that in Sweden it is easier to accept that the poast is only for fun. In Finland many people still stay on the front of the Winter War, which makes the prevailing climate of attitudes too serious. We might have something to learn...

Thank you, Timo! As I wrote, I don't deny that the history of the past few centuries has political relevance and is useful. But in my opinion, studying anything before that is just for fun. Which is OK, since much of what people love best in life is just fun. We are certainly wealthy enough in the West to afford fun stuff that is not useful.

Well done Martin! Nice reading, but I still think that historical knowledge can learn us something even if it´s older than, say, 300 years or so. That aside, splendid presentation.

By Sören Andersen (not verified) on 08 Nov 2009 #permalink