Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Much Less Schadenfreude Than I Was Led To Expect

The Almost Perfect People
Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia
By Michael Booth

I've been to Sweden and it's hard to square such a pleasant country with the cascade of gloomy chunky jumper wearing detectives that invade our television and bookshops.

And given that every new scandinoir conjures up a seedy world of moral compromise, secret historical shame and the certainty that society is in a state of terminal decline just why, in survey after survey, do the people of the region vote themselves the happiest in the world.

Michael Booth who is both married to a Dane and living in Denmark sets out to examine the roots of this contradiction. He tackles each Nordic country in turn, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland in turn -  providing a useful insight into their history, culture and idiosyncrasies. 

The blurb, misleadingly, stresses the 'hidden dark side' of the Nordic utopia but the book is in fact much more balanced and nuanced than that. Less schadenfreude and more wry humour.


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