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The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 6. Februar 2014

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"Comprehensive and occasionally downright hilarious... I was laughing out loud" (Mariella Frostrup Observer)

"An affectionate and informative study of a region." (Ian Critchley Sunday Times)

"[An] entertaining, warts-and-all, English expat look at the Nordic miracle." (Daily Telegraph)

"A thoroughly entertaining read, written brilliantly" (Bernard Porter Literary Review)

"A welcome rejoinder to those who cling to the idea of the Nordic region as a promised land...the substance, more often than not, is spot on." (Financial Times)


A revealing, often humorous journey through Scandinavia and its curious tribes

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x971ffdec) von 5 Sternen 36 Rezensionen
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9729e9f0) von 5 Sternen Provocative, informative, and often funny -- very readworthy! 30. Dezember 2014
Von Vagabondage - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
My family's heritage is almost entirely Danish, Swedish and Norwegian, so of course this book and its great -- and very apt -- title caught my eye.

Unlike some other non-Scandiavian writers who attempt to give the lowdown on life in that region, sometimes on the basis of a mere few weeks spent traveling there, Jonathan Cape is a Brit married to a Dane, a longtime resident of that small Nordic kingdom who is raising a family there and has numerous social and business contacts upon which to draw for his insights.

Cape devotes a section to each of the Nordic countries, including Finland and Iceland. His reportorial style is anecdotal and often quite amusing as he travels around the lands of the northern lights to look at some of the iconic/quirkier aspects of life there. I found his account of a visit to a public Finnish sauna a classic, for example. However, this is not simply a funny-book. He deals with serious subjects such as the rise of right-wing parties in the region, friction over immigration, alcohol stats, and the tragic 2011 massacre of 69 young people at a Norwegian summer camp by a xenophobic extremist -- the worst attack in Norway since World War II.

While I don't always agree with Cape's take on each aspect of these countries, his comments are always thought-provoking, often laugh-inducing, and totally candid. He disabuses us of the overly romanticized picture often painted by each Nordic country's tourist office, while making it clear that despite these Scandihoovians' imperfections, life among them is a joy.
13 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9729ec3c) von 5 Sternen A funny and suprisingly insightful look into a region which is usually a blind spot 17. September 2014
Von Malleus Maleficarum - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
A few years ago, I remember seeing an episode of the Simpsons which parodied the Nobel Prize ceremony held in Stockholm. In the Simpsons world, Sweden is a country of clean roads, blonde men and women and female traffic cops directing traffic in the nude. This caricature probably accurately encapsulates what much of the world pictures when you say 'Scandinavia'. This book does a good job laying bare (!!) the Nordic miracle and makes a clean breast (!!) of what makes these societies tick

This is a funny and irreverent yet at times insightful book on a group of nations that are low profile yet have quietly, in the author's words, created some of the most successful societies in human history. Michael Booth is an outsider who's on the inside of the Nordic Miracle - an Englishman who's married to a Danish woman, he lives the Nordic life but is detached enough to observe the eccentricities and quirks of his adopted homeland. If one had to summarise the author's view, it would be this - the Nordic countries may seem to be bland, homogenous and ultimately boringly efficient utopias, but look below the surface, there are enough quirks, eccentricities and hidden secrets and these societies are constantly looking to evolve in response to these challenges. For all their successes, there are some not so enviable facts about these countries - the Norwegian economic miracle is built on exporting tonnes and tonnes of oil and gas, alcoholism among Finns is a major concern, Sweden has a rape crisis and Denmark has an increasingly xenophobic and Islamophobic right-wing polity. The Nordic region as a whole has rather successfully adopted the socialist welfare state model which has been very successful in eliminating poverty and ensuring its people are cared for - on the flip side though, the state is such a predominant entity in Scandinavian life that at times, it reads less like Utopia and more like a Stalinist gulag (exaggeration mine) - in no place is this more evident than in Sweden where the state's stated goal is to free individuals from the bonds of family and 'help them take their place in the collective' - a manifesto more chilling than anything the Khmer Rouge ever wrote. Yet, and the author keeps reminding us, nothing succeeds like success and the Nordic societies have to be commended for eliminating the kind of income inequality in society that breeds poverty and violence. Weighing in the positives and the negatives, the author comes down firmly on the side of the Nordic model - as he says in his book, it's a wonderful place for the average person - and given that the world will always be dominated by the average, the Nordic countries have arrived upon the most optimal social for nation building. I suppose different people will agree to varying degrees with the author's conclusions and some may be put off by his flippant tone but for my money, this book offers a good and somewhat surprisingly deep look into the dynamics of a part of the globe which is a blind spot for most of us.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9729ec00) von 5 Sternen Funny, witty 2. November 2014
Von Phil Zuckerman - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Funny, witty, wry, curmudgeony, and extremely well-observed. I lived in Denmark for two years and have been a Scandiaphile for about 30 years -- I've spent lots of time in Sweden and Norway, less time in Finland and Iceland -- and I found this book insightful, sharp, and extremely sensitive to many subtle and not so subtle facets of modern Norden. Sociological, historical, ethnographic, and journalistic in equal measure, this extremely engaging book will be loved by those who love Scandinavia, as well as those who kinda hate it.
12 von 15 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9729eef4) von 5 Sternen An interesting social journey through all things nordic 10. Februar 2014
Von Toxoscot - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
What`s behind the statement that the Nordic cousins are "the happiest people on the planet"? It deserves an investigation. Michel Booth a resident of Copenhagen provides a good extended synopsis; written with a dry sense of humour.
What makes these nations enjoy an unrivalled security; cradle to grave social care? The recurring concept of "hygge" (an untranslatable that means a complete absence of anything annoying). A word that appears in everyday speech in Denmark, but a concept that permeates the Nordic world. However, if all is well in the northern front, why not an en masse migration from their European cousins? Perhaps all is not well in the "state of Denmark" and its Nordic neighbours. The author explores the paradoxes, and taboos that permeates the Nordic world. A great amusing and educational read.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x972a0414) von 5 Sternen A good, honest, individualistic look at each country 10. Februar 2015
Von S. J. Snyder - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Snippets I heard about it in the Guardian made me think that it was going to be little more than bashing "those welfare-state Scandinavians."

But it was a thoughtful critique, and very good.

The benefits as well as financial (and occasional other) flaws of the welfare system in general, and that of each individual Nordic country, were discussed.

Also, Booth dispels some myths, mainly about the Finns on culture.

And, about the Icelanders on their financial meltdown — yes, post-meltdown, Britain (and other Nordic countries) rode it hard for repayment, but a lot of Icelandic greed caused it in the first place, Booth notes.

Beyond that, Booth doesn't treat "the Scandinavians" or "the Nordics" as a monolith; each country, its bright spots, and its "issues," are treated individualistically.

Anyway, a good, nice read.
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