Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable.


THE YEAR WAS 1628, and the Swedish warship Vasa was to make her maiden voyage to join the other Swedish warships in the Thirty Years’ War. An incredible 64-gun warship, the Vasa was larger than just about anything else found on the waters of Scandinavia in the seventeenth century. The Vasa had everything necessary to be a truly remarkable vessel with a truly remarkable story. But as I learned when I visited the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden, the story had a much less remarkable ending.

In a rush to get the Vasa into battle as quickly as possible, Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus gave orders for the ship to set sail on a specific date. Unfortunately, the ...

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