Folken runt Östersjön (Peoples Around the Baltic Sea) by Lars Enkler. 8½ by 12 inches, 160 pages, hardbound, duct cover, in Swedish, Hjalmarson & Högberg, Stockholm 2003, ISBN 91-89660-33-1. Approximately $40 plus shipping from the publisher, 76320 Hallstavik, Sweden.

 

            This richly illustrated book will appeal to anyone interested in stamps as well as regional European history. The author first developed an award-winning philatelic exhibit which then grew into this handsome text.

            Beginning with ancient history and exploration that eventually led to the settlement of areas in northern Europe, the story moves on through the Viking era, citing pertinent history and geography of the region. The influence of the church, the establishment of ports as trade and commerce expanded, and the Reformation follow, all illustrated with philatelic material, especially stamps.

            The rise of Sweden as a major power and the conflicts in the area are briefly noted followed by chapters on the Enlightenment, Napoleon’s time, the awakening of nationalism, and conditions in the Baltic areas at the turn of the 20th century. A chapter on World War I brings attention to the resulting changes in national borders and especially the effects on Finland. Rapid changes in communications such as the telephone and air transportation affected the lives of everyone.

            World War II and its aftermath also greatly affected the peoples of this region, and Russia’s changing influence on the Baltic States is described. Today efforts to bring about cooperation and unity among the countries touching the Baltic Sea have had a positive effect.

            A remarkable feature of this book is that every page contains five to ten illustrations in beautiful color. Although they are largely philatelic items such as stamps, covers, souvenir sheets, and cancellations, there are also historic photos and other documents, and pictures of people and places that enhance the story. Each stamp illustration is marked with the year of issue. Notes on and sources of the illustrative material are found at the back of the book, along with tables of the royalty and heads of state of these countries up to the present.

            This book makes a wonderful gift, especially for Swedish language readers.

 

Alan Warren