A Review of Frederick J. Pohl's book The Viking Explorers,, 1966

A NEW BOOK ON THE VIKINGS

[Review of] THE VIKING EXPLORERS
THEIR LIVES, CUSTOMS, AND DARING VOYAGES,
ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS, DRAWINGS, AND
MAPS, INCLUDING THE EARLIEST KNOWN MAP OF
THE NEW WORLD — THE 1440 MAP OF VINLAND AT
YALE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY.
BY FREDERICK J. POHL

FREDERICK J. Pohl is one of America's most widely read authors today on the subject of pre-Columbian voyages. Among his earlier works are Lost America and Atlantic Voyages before Columbus. His most recent book, The Viking Explorers, is a readable and exciting tale of Norsemen's voyages to Greenland and North America in the eleventh century. The author has a keen interest in his subject and holds his reader's attention throughout. His experience as an English teacher is evident in his orderly presentation.

The book describes journeys to the newfound lands which the Norsemen called Hel-luland, Markland, and Vinland, as well as speculations on where these lands were located. The author has studied the written sources for many years (the Flateyarbˇk and the Hauksbˇk are the two principal ones) and concludes that Vinland was most likely on Cape Cod. An essential part of his new book contains the arguments for this conclusion and cites evidence to support it.

Unfortunately Mr. Pohl's evidence is not convincing.[...] a rectangular depression found on Cape Cod is said to have been a house floor from the Viking Period because no Colonial artifacts were found associated with it!

This line of reasoning recalls the story of two researchers who set out to prove that all crows are black. After first counting black crows, they decided to change their procedure and note all nonblack objects that were not crows. Having counted many non-black objects without tallying a single crow, they thereupon concluded that all crows are black! One finds it difficult to accept Mr. Pohl's similar line of reasoning that lack of Colonial artifacts at a site can establish the presence of Norsemen there.

Source: Birgitta L. Wallace, "A New Book on the Vikings," Carnegie Magazine (May 31, 1966): 161.

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