The Local Sweden

America's gun culture and choosing to raise our children in Sweden

I'm often asked why we have made the conscious decision not to live in the United States. Most people laugh at the first answer I generally give, which involves a certain person currently residing in a large white house in Washington, D.C. The laughter always stops when I give my second reason: I already worry enough about my children that I don't want to live in fear that they will be gunned down in a mass shooting, at school or anywhere else.
The Local Sweden

History dies deep in the woods: The forgotten Nazi concentration camp survivors in the forests of Småland

History has a way of being forgotten, whether by accident or design, especially when it’s painful. Histories with straightforward and happy endings make us feel good about ourselves and more hopeful about the outcome of our own uncertain times. Those that lack resolution or defy the need for an optimistic conclusion frequently exist in varying degrees of figurative darkness – ignored, neglected, forsaken. Sometimes, the darkness is also literal – a place so tucked away from view that the eyes of the collective consciousness barely need to look away to forget. Just such a place exists in Öreryd, Sweden, where a World War II refugee camp once stood. There, deep in the forests of Småland, the painful yet vitally-important history of 1,000 survivors of Nazi concentration camps has been left to die in the woods.

Stirling, Borthwick and Lochleven: The Scottish Haunts of Mary, Queen of Scots

As in England, where the number of historical establishments that claim, "Queen Victoria slept here," is legion, the same holds true in Scotland for Mary, Queen of Scots. In her relatively brief 45 years of life, Mary seems to have spent at least one night in just about every castle of note in Scotland. Between everyday living at her royal residences, numerous Scottish progressions, various attempts to escape a multitude of threats, and the early years of her imprisonment, she went from what we know today as familiar Scottish landmarks like Edinburgh Castle to near forgotten ruins like Spynie Palace in the Moray region of eastern Scotland. But if you think the Queen of Scots was busy in life, wait until you hear all the places she's reportedly "visited" in the afterlife.
The Local Sweden

The integration tool you probably aren't using in Sweden

For immigrants in Sweden, it can feel at times like the normal daily routine offers precious few opportunities for cultural and historical immersion. This is doubly true for those raising a family. Between acclimating to new ways of doing things, learning the language, working and/or studying, setting up and maintaining a home, caring for children and prioritizing their needs, trying to squeeze in time with a partner, and maybe actually having a social life, it's no surprise that our knowledge of Swedish culture and history often goes woefully uncultivated.
History Writers Resist Trump

Lessons from the Nineteenth Century: Immigration, Xenophobia and an Inept President

Before Lady Liberty officially became “Mother of Exiles” in 1903 and subdued xenophobia with the help of her three dragons (sorry, wrong story, that was the Mother of Dragons), the tired and poor huddled masses arriving at America’s teeming shores were greeted less than enthusiastically by nineteenth century anti-immigration extremists. Creating a model that is now experiencing a renaissance, groups of mainly white, Protestant men calling themselves Nativists in honor of their “native” American heritage, and united in their belief that immigrants were taking their jobs, threatening democracy, and bent on imposing Papism, banded together to limit the rights of existing immigrants and slow the inflow of new immigrants.
A Bit of History

Countess Emilia Plater and the Perpetual Anomaly of the Woman Warrior

Joan of Arc, Countess Emilia Plater, Wonder Woman: Singular women placed on a pedestal, carefully arranged and served on a silver platter of inimitable exceptionalism, meant to be admired for their sacrifice, but not duplicated. These are the flawed foundations of the stories of “heroic” women that have helped insure that the concept of the women warrior remains an anomaly more akin to a fictional superhero than an accepted reality.
The Local Sweden

How I embraced Sweden's second-hand culture (and why you should, too)

"My children need the newest and best of everything," said someone who was not me. Don't get me wrong, my children are my precious angels whose needs I put before my own on a regular basis. They are also precious angels whose exuberant love of life means that almost nothing passes out of their possession in "gently used" condition. Which is why I have happily embraced Sweden's vibrant second-hand and upcycling market.
The Local Sweden

Why being an immigrant parent in Sweden is not for the faint of heart

As an immigrant parent, I am also something of an alchemist. I have transmuted two of the most simultaneously difficult and wonderful things I've ever done – parenting and living abroad – into one big, simultaneously difficult and wonderful thing. In the great alchemic tradition, my discovery is remarkable, but not entirely what I expected. Sometimes it seems like it might be pure gold. Other times, it is as unpredictable as primitive gunpowder.
Royalty Digest Quarterly

When Golden Bees Swarmed America - The Era of Bonapartes in the United States

Years before Waterloo and St. Helena, Napoleon Bonaparte pointed to New Jersey on a map of the United States and told his brother Joseph: "If I am ever forced to flee to America, I shall settle somewhere between Philadelphia and New York, where I can receive the earliest intelligence from France by ships arriving at either port." He couldn't have known when he said it that one day America would be literally swarming with Bonapartes, or that just such a place in New Jersey as he had described would be the hive to which they gravitated.
A Bit of History

A Beacon in Historical Darkness: The Medal Worn on the Grave

Tucked away in the church cemetery of a southern Swedish village is the gravestone of a civil servant who died in 1902. It would go unnoticed as the average grave of an ordinary man were it not for one remarkable feature: the shining silver medal embedded and encased in glass within the gravestone. All but forgotten and facing the scrap heap, the gravestone symbolizes the overlooked beauty and value of everyday history.
European Royal History Journal

Alice Heine: Monaco's Forgotten First American Princess

The death of Prince Rainier III of Monaco was lamented as the end of an exalted era that began when Rainier married the American actress Grace Kelly in 1956. But while the world was caught up in a modern royal “fairy tale,” an even more dramatic chapter in Monaco’s history lay all but forgotten. For the glory days of Monaco actually began over 140 years ago and culminated in the reign of Prince Albert I of Monaco – the present Prince Albert’s great, great grandfather. And the forgotten highlight of Albert’s nearly 33-year reign was another magnetic and beautiful American woman – Princess Alice, the first American princess of Monaco.
A Bit of History

Gilded Age New York’s “King of Diamonds”

In an episode that predated the Watergate break-in by 100 years, thieves broke into the New York City Comptroller’s office on September 10, 1871, and stole records that threatened to end the corrupt reign of Boss Tweed over the Tammany Hall political machine. Fittingly, the thieves used a symbol of the Tweed Ring – a diamond – to cut a hole in the glass office door. This is the story of Boss Tweed and the diamonds of Tammany Hall.
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