The Almost Nearly Perfect People

The Almost Nearly Perfect People

Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia

eBook - 2015
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A WITTY, INFORMATIVE, AND POPULAR TRAVELOGUE ABOUT THE SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES AND HOW THEY MAY NOT BE AS HAPPY OR AS PERFECT AS WE ASSUME Journalist Michael Booth has lived among the Scandinavians for more than ten years, and he has grown increasingly frustrated with the rose-tinted view of this part of the world offered up by the Western media. In this timely book he leaves his adopted home of Denmark and embarks on a journey through all five of the Nordic countries to discover who these curious tribes are, the secrets of their success, and, most intriguing of all, what they think of one another. Why are the Danes so happy, despite having the highest taxes' Do the Finns really have the best education system' Are the Icelanders as feral as they sometimes appear' How are the Norwegians spending their fantastic oil wealth' And why do all of them hate the Swedes' In The Almost Nearly Perfect People Michael Booth explains who the Scandinavians are, how they differ and why, and what their quirks and foibles are, and he explores why these societies have become so successful and models for the world. Along the way a more nuanced, often darker picture emerges of a region plagued by taboos, characterized by suffocating parochialism, and populated by extremists of various shades. They may very well be almost nearly perfect, but it isn't easy being Scandinavian.
Publisher: New York : Picador, 2015
ISBN: 9781250061973
Branch Call Number: Overdrive eBook
Characteristics: text file
1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Recorded Books, Inc


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Jul 27, 2017

I was enjoying this book, until I got to the chapter on Sweden. What was up with that? I don't know if the author has a deep seated hatred for Sweden or he had an agenda and none of the other Scandinavian countries allowed him to vent it.
I read the book because I am interested in these countries and how they manage social issues. But I am not so interested that I want to read boring histories or dry political essays. This seemed a much more readable and approachable option. But I found myself constantly shaking my head in the chapter on Sweden. Without coming out and saying it he has some very politically right wing attitudes. But he never convinced me that the horrible totalitarian state was Sweden or that it was such a bad thing for the people. At the same time he seems very pro immigration and critical of Sweden for attempts to maintain their culture.
The rest of the book had some interesting information and anecdotes and it was very readable, so worth the time just skip the whole Sweden part.

Nov 27, 2016

One of the cover blurbs describes this book as "Bill Bryson goes to Scandniavia", and as someone who loves both Bill Bryson and Scandinavia, that description alone was enough to make me snatch this up. It's also a pretty accurate description -- Booth's book is a bit less travelougey that a lot of Bryson's tend to be, but he has the same light tone and dry wit that make Bryson such a joy to read. Booth covers each of the Scandinavian countries in turn, and does a really excellent job at explaining the differences between each country -- a somewhat difficult task when describing a region that, to many outsiders, seems so homogeneous. The end result is a book that is both entertaining and also highly insightful and informative -- but honestly, this is worth reading for the bit where he goes to a Finnish sauna alone. Trust me.

Aug 08, 2016

I loved this book. Booth is witty and I found myself laughing often. My favourite part is when he describes visiting a Finnish sauna.

He also does a fantastic job explaining Nordic life, culture and history. I truly feel like I understand more about Scandanavia because of this book. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like a light but educational read.

Bunny_Watson716 Jun 17, 2016

Curious about the so-called "Scandinavian utopia"? Try this book. Ex-pat British author Booth writes about the Nordic countries in a lighthearted way. A fun and interesting read.

Apr 11, 2016

What Bill Bryson did for Australia in "In a Sunburned Country", Michael Booth does for Scandinavian countries in this fascinating read. Insightful, thought-provoking and hilarious. Highly recommended.

Mar 26, 2016

Like many Canadians, I have been intrigued by all things Scandinavian for some time. I absolutely loved pondering all that Michael Booth had to share in this book. There is much depth of thought, supported by intelligent observation and some research. There is also a lot of humour.

One minor criticism is that he is not always correct when making a few fleeting references to Canada. I think he needs to spend some time here. He does get it right on page 331, when quoting a Swede, who groups Pierre Trudeau with Olof Palme as an aristocratic radical who came to power during the 1960's.

Well, actually, I also wondered about the reference to a "Romanian" spotted in Sweden (pp. 300-01). I would guess this person was a Roma, who may or may not also have been an erstwhile Romanian.

Nov 17, 2015

A witty and often hilarious survey (in the vein of the self-deprecating and sarcastic Bill Bryson) of the Scandinavian countries. A highlight was the section on Swedish workers at the Norwegian banana-peeling factory (and um, Norwegian oil wealth).

Nov 01, 2015

Covering the five northern European countries, the information ranges from hilarious to surprising, but is always interesting. Contains insights and perspectives not available in your typical travel guides.

Oct 16, 2015

Fairly even handed evaluation of Scandinavia. I appreciated the history that was included. A good read for those interested in Scandinavia.

NatMarAma Sep 12, 2015

Overall, I was happy with the content in this book. However, I could have done without the extensive history lessons. Sometimes they were simply unnecessary. I ended up skipping much of these sections, but I did gain insight into the " Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia."

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