Five Centuries of Violence in Finland and the Baltic Area
- List Price: $75.95
- Binding: Hardcover
- Publisher: Ohio State Univ Pr
- Publish date: 12/01/2000
- ISBN: 9780814208601
- ISBN10: 0814208606
The contents of this book should help reverse these opinions. Sweden and Finland were once quite violent, and even today their Baltic neighbor Estonia in some places has homicide rates that parallel those of America's cities. Lacking urban decay, even lacking cities of any size, early modern Finland had rural traditions of knife fighting and suffered aggressive male violence in ways as grimly predictable as in the late twentieth-century United States. In both Sweden and Finland, cities led the way to social pacification, becoming less violent before the countryside. Contemporary Estonia, however, has high rates of violence among its Russian population, rates that point to enormous social gulfs in a country Americans would see as homogeneous and "white".
These profoundly rural places in hard climates populated by peasant farmers and woodcutters, with tiny cities no larger than what we would call villages today, all had better record keeping than most contemporary nonindustrial nations. The contributors have drawn extensively on these records to address issues of policy and history. They make it clear that personal violence can lodge like a virus in many different host organisms; although American violence is a unique problem in some ways, it is not due to some peculiar set of conditions limited to America. From the historical point of view, we cansee how Finland's experience can give hope: how entrenched traditions of personal violence can change; how history, like circumstance, is not destiny.