WHEN I visited American universities in 1948 to lecture on Scandinavian problems, it appeared to me that there was a great need for a general survey text on the main contributions of the Scandinavian countries to contemporary culture. Popular books on each of the countries and scholarly works on special aspects of Scandinavian culture are numerous. But there is no single-volume presentation of the most important features of the social, political, and economic systems of Scandinavia.
The occasion for remedying this situation presented itself when the New School for Social Research permitted me to call upon a number of American specialists and Scandinavian scholars temporarily in the United States to take part in a series of lectures on major aspects of Scandinavian political, economic, and social life. I took this opportunity to persuade the lecturers to examine their manuscripts with a view to publication.
I have found it necessary to limit the coverage of the book to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, as Finland and Iceland, though historically and culturally close to the Scandinavian countries, are too different in many respects to be profitably included in this survey.
It is fundamental to the thinking of those who worked together on this book that there is a cultural harmony in the separate efforts