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

The Danish carry the title "happiest people on Earth" courtesy of the Gallup World Poll and the United Nations World Happiness Report. Norwegians are the richest people, thanks to their healthy supply of oil. And the Finns lay claim to the best education system. Scandinavia as a whole enjoys a glowing reputation around the globe.

British journalist and travel writer Michael Booth (Eat Pray Eat) set out to examine both the assets and shortcomings of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. With a lighthearted, humorous tone, Booth shares data, history, anecdotes and his personal experiences--he's lived in Denmark and is married to a Dane--as they relate to each nation.

Speaking to economic, political, sociological and other experts, Booth plays devil's advocate, posing pragmatic questions (how can the Danes be so happy when they pay the highest taxes?) and pondering cultural conundrums (why are the Finns so obsessed with their saunas?). Quick to point out when the authorities seem to have their heads buried in the sand, Booth is also open to new theories and follows their leads in fascinating directions--even when they take him to a Swedish crayfish party. Booth visits each country independently, but finds common links in their often comically unfavorable views of one another.

The good, the bad, the ugly and the amusing in The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia make this tromp through the Nordic countries both educational and entertaining. Whether readers are intimately familiar with or ignorant about the subject, there's something for everyone to take away. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

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