- Taschenbuch: 416 Seiten
- Verlag: Jonathan Cape (6. Februar 2014)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0224089625
- ISBN-13: 978-0224089623
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,3 x 3 x 23,4 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: Schreiben Sie die erste Bewertung
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 130.934 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
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 tribesAlle Produktbeschreibungen
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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.
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.
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.
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.