The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia

tags: geography

A thoroughly enjoyable book discussing the five Nordic countries – Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Denmark – and their supposedly unassailable credentials as the utopia of the world.

The author is an Englishman, married to a Danish woman and living in Denmark. He deconstructs the myth of Scandinavia by bringing up points like the Finns drinking habits, the Icelandic banking crisis, the dullness of the Norwegians, the arrogance and xenophobia of the Swedes, and the ridiculous tax rates of the Danes.

The book is good-natured, and frequently very funny. It’s disorganized, in the sense that the author jumps all around without structure (save for a single, multi-chapter section on each country), but that’s it’s charm. Each chapter has a theme, and after a point, I stopped caring about what it was, I just knew it would be interesting.

An enjoyable book, but understand that it’s not meant to be an academic or scientific critique of the Nordics. It’s…fun, probably more than a bit accurate, and in the end, doesn’t really insult anyone.

Book Info