(Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia)

By Michael Boot

Considering my past which saw me spending one beautiful year in the cold Sweden – including two trips to Finland -, this book was a great occasion to reflect on how Scandinavia and its peolple changed my way to be and my expectations. I can definitely say I found myself understanding the point of view of the author all the 406 pages long, even if, a couple of times, I could not agree with his hypothesis. Nonetheless, I think this is exactly what made up my reading experience, hence trying to compare my point of view with his way to analyze facts. Moreover, he referred several times to other scandinavian anthropological readings, I think I will get them all sooner or later.

A mix of history, politics, philosophy and much more makes of this book a pleasant and interesting reading, and, as it is usual among the books I normally select, a good portion of statistics contribute to improve readers’ overall comprehension. Its language is far away from the “ultra-fluent” American English we would find in Dubner and Levitt’s global best sellers, but by taking advantage of an infinitely wide range of adjectives – sometimes carefully selected from slang British – the author determines his way to be bold and provocative.

Along this reading you will be questioning in their deepest meaning topics like: Social Democracy, Neutrality, Censorship, Prohibitionism, Propaganda, Atheism, Capitalism, Feminism, Parenthood, Childhood, Happyness, Privatization and much more. You won’t miss a chance to get your head working, trust me you won’t.

Moreover, I also appreciated his way to show – on purpose – his imperfection, represented by the difficulties which pop up when trying to understand someone else’s culture. I personally experienced this, believe me, if you are Italian it is hard to have an high-school teacher who tells you “I think that you should….” instead of “You must….”. I mean, I was 18, and I kind of needed teachers to look pretty sure when teaching something to me. But now, after five years, I see their point, and I can say that if somehow I am to become a teacher, I’ll also opt for the “I think that you should…”

So to start, I think that you should not miss this book if:

  • you studied scandinavistics or you are interest in Scandinavia
  • you are a politician or you want to become one
  • you spent a part of your life – even a minimal one – in Scandinavia
  • you are thinking of moving to one of these countries
  • you study or you are stongly interest in anthropology
  • you want to understand whether you prefer to be dependent on your state or on your family

Finally, a question came out of my brain at the end book after I read the epilogue, maybe the one question I would like to ask him if I was given a chance to ask only ONE question… You know, we Readers are curious people, we know how damn hard would be to ask just one question after 400 pages…

Here it is:

What’s the matter with the Republican-Monarchical discussion… intend as: Why do you question how it comes that they couldn’t escape from the monarchy, instead of asking how can it be that they did not find an innovative alternative to Republic State or Parliamentary Monarchy? …. which are by the way old solutions which are constantly failing to make our World a better place….

Best quotations on my opinion:

“To ask your host whether you should take off your shoes is to imply a reluctance to do so; the polite host might not want to impose, but will the secretly despise you for sullying their floors”.

“To achieve authentic, sustained happiness, above all else you need to be in charge of your life, to be in control of who you want to be, and be able to make the appropriate changes if you are not.

Thanks to the author for his outstanding work.

Thank you very much for reading! Hopefully my review was a determinant factor leading you to either purchase the book or simply borrow it. Keep reading, keep writing, keep thinking! Feel free to comment and share my post, I hope you enjoyed it.

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Just in case you are wondering, I do not receive any kind of benefit from any sponsor for writing my reviews.


Enrico P.

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