The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life

Anu Partanen. Harper, $27.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-231654-7
In this outsider’s examination of the American way of life, Finnish-born journalist Partanen compares the United States to the Nordic countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Partanen draws from her first-hand experiences as a recent transplant to America, recounting her culture shock and struggle to adapt. She skillfully deconstructs healthcare, the educational system, the family unit, and governmental participation in everyday life, among other things, to point out how American society is flawed and where it can learn from the Nordic countries, especially what she calls “the Nordic theory of love”: “that authentic love and friendship are possible only between individuals who are independent and equal.” As she observes, this belief resembles the classical American ideals of individualism and self-reliance, and for this reason, Americans should find it appealing. Partanen concludes by stating that the U.S., by drawing on the example of Nordic societies, “could possibly return itself to its former glory as the best country in the world.” It’s a passionate and intelligent argument, though perhaps an overly idealized attempt to fix complicated issues, and more valuable as a conversation starter than a utopian blueprint. Agent: Kimberly Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/04/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-264318-6
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-06-231655-4
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-0-06-231656-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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