From the Introduction to No Ordinary Seaman
There was something of Norway in my blood and bones. I have always had an overwhelming curiosity about the Norsemen – past and present. And the sea too. As a child, I would daydream about the sea, even though I lived far away from it. I think I equated being Norwegian and being on the sea as one and the same thing.
Norway is the land of my ancestors, a small coastal country of hard granite and barren rock, where ancient mountains tower above deep blue-water fjords.
The Battle of Hafrsfjord took place in 872, in a large bay on the southwest coast of Norway near the city of Stavanger.
Here, King Harald Hårfagre (Harald the Fairhair) defeated the warring Viking kings, and under his leadership, united Norway for the first time. Norse mythologies that propped up the warrior culture soon gave way to Christianity and peace broke out with the approach of the new Millennium.
Historians recount that King Harald rammed his sword into the stone as a sign of peace. Giant swords can be seen today at this location near the city of Stavanger.
Over the last two centuries almost three million Norwegians emigrated to the New World. During this time, for a least one hundred years, the population of Norway was in decline.
On April 9, 1940 Nazi Germany invaded Norway. My father joined the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNAF) and trained at the Allied training base – Little Norway in Toronto, Canada.