Photo: Marteline Nystad and Henrik Løfqvist


Unite or Perish: The Struggle for a United Scandinavia
(Union eller undergang: Kampen for et forenet Skandinavien)
Published 2021, 632 pages


Gads Forlag

Foreign rights:

Gads Forlag

Rikke Detlevsen,


Unite or Perish

According to the 1800s mindset,  Europe would naturally come to comprise fewer but larger states—as it happened in Italy and Germany—after numerous small states were consolidated through war. Consequently, small nations had to either unite or perish.

The fear of dissolution induced prominent politicians and royals to attempt to unite Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Despite concrete draft-constitutions, a united Scandinavia was never realised. This has led historians to write off the plot as unrealistic fantasy, viewing the three Scandinavian nation states as the end of the story.

Unite or Perish tells an entirely different story, revealing serious plans for a coup, war, the abduction of the Danish royal family, revolution and the installation of Swedish and Norwegian royals on the Danish throne.

About the author

Morten Nordhagen Ottosen, born 1981, is a lecturer in history and strategy at the Norwegian Military Academy in Oslo. He also co-authored 1814: Krig, nederlag, frihed (1814: War, defeat, freedom, 2014) with Rasmus Glenthøj.

Rasmus Glenthøj, born 1977, is a lecturer at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. His previous works include 1864: Sønner af de Slagne (1864: Sons of the Defeated, 2014).

Text translated by Sharon Rhodes