They are easy to joke about, the Scandinavians, and they've managed to put up an amazing screen of public relations to keep the rest of the world in a state of ongoing awe, and this book rips into the heart of what it means to be Nordic. The Viking nature of always having to come out of the deal a bit better than your victim -- sorry, your client -- stretches over a thousand years of a strange sort of real estate ambition. They never really sought to conquer any other people, they just wanted to trade and live in peace, and they were willing to commit atrocities to do so. Booth's book consistently drops your jaw with perfect profiles of these communities. I will not travel to these places again without being reminded daily of his observations. The book is a thrill, and of course will be met with a lot of rubbishing from its character nations, but Booth lives there and he is simply detailing what he sees, and I'd say his glimpses at Nordic society are much more an elaborate study in portraiture than the foreigner's glances that the Scandinavians will claim in their defense. For people claiming to be open about humanity and sexuality and free will, the Scandinavians are amazingly racist, sexist, and xenophobic. It's what makes them so much fun! And they all admit it, if you speak to a single one of them; never in a group, since your accusations will be met with fury. But look into the recent hate crimes in all the Nordic countries, and you will be astounded; ask a Danish woman what will happen to her pretty hat if she makes the mistake of walking alone into a redneck burgh in the countryside. A great great great read, Michael Booth is witty and quick but his aim is unerringly perfect.