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The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life Hardcover – June 28, 2016
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"...Partanen is good at blending the individual stories of her friends in the cold,hard facts of national statistics... Partanen is a careful, judicious writer and she makes a careful, judicious case." (New York Times Book Review)
"...meticulously researched. [Partanen] offers a clear, informative, fact-filled survey of the differences between American and Nordic childcare, health care, education, elder care and taxation arrangements. It could be a game-changer in national conversations about the roles that governments should play in their citizens' lives." (Seattle Times)
"An engaging fusion of reportage and memoir." (O, the Oprah Magazine)
"This is a wonderful, hopeful book about what American society can be-not by adopting Nordic 'socialism,' but by embracing the values that have allowed Nordic citizens to enjoy more freedom and quality than in present-day America. The American Dream was once an inspiration to the world. Anu Partanen shows us how to rediscover it." (Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley, and former U.S. Secretary of Labor)
"If Americans really understood how bad we have it-how unjust and wrong headed our child care, education, and public health policies are-we'd take to the streets. Anu Partanen rips up the stale stereotypes about Nordic welfare states and shows us all the kinds of human flourishing we're missing out on.This is a dangerous book. Don't let it fall into the wrong hands." (Judith Shulevitz, author of The Sabbath World)
"In this election year, Partanen's sensible book should be required reading for those who wonder why so many Americans feel resentful and alienated." (Foreign Affairs)
"A passionate and intelligent argument." (Publishers Weekly)
"In her careful, evenhanded series of thoughtful essays, Partanen, who just became an American citizen, parses the recipe for Nordic success that even the self-congratulatory 'exceptional' American may want to ponder and adapt. . . . An earnest, well-written work worth heeding, especially in our current toxic political climate." (Kirkus Reviews)
A Book You Desperately Need to Add to Your 'To-Read' Pile This Summer (Gizmodo)
"Partanen's pride in her homeland and genuine concern for the struggles of middle-class Americans infuse her book with candor and charm, and her perceptions about American struggles feel spot-on." (Booklist)
A Best Book of Summer 2016 (O, the Oprah Magazine)
"This highly readable and entertaining work is timely, as the conversation about inequality and the role of social services in this country has never been more relevant." (Library Journal)
"A MUST READ, SUMMER 2016" (New York Post)
A Best Nonfiction Book of Summer 2016 (Bustle)
From the Back Cover
Impassioned and timely, this big think book by a Finnish journalist who is now a U.S. citizen asks Americans to consider the Nordic way of life as a means of nurturing a happier, saner, and fairer society.
AT a May 2012 conference on social mobility, where experts discussed whether people worldwide were attaining a better life than their parents’, Ed Miliband, the leader of the British Labour Party, made a surprising quip: “If you want the American dream, go to Finland.” For decades, the country best known for opportunity had been the United States. No longer, said Miliband.
Anu Partanen, however, had recently left Finland and moved to America for the love of her life, a man who would ultimately become her husband. Their relationship flourished, but she found that navigating the basics of everyday life—from health insurance and taxes to education and child care—was much more complicated and stressful than anything she had encountered in her homeland. At first she attributed her crippling anxiety to the difficulty of adapting to a freewheeling new culture. But as she got to know Americans better, she discovered that they shared her deep apprehensions. To understand why life in Finland is so drastically different from the way things are in the United States, Partanen began to look closely at both countries.
In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Partanen compares living in the United States with life in the Nordic region, focusing on four key relationships—parents and children, men and women, employees and employers, and government and citizens. She debunks criticism that Nordic countries are socialist “nanny states,” revealing instead that it is we Americans who are far more enmeshed in unhealthy dependencies than we realize. Step-by-step, Partanen explains that the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom and equality than we do.Partanen wants to open Americans’ eyes to how much better things can be—to show her beloved new country what it can learn from her homeland to reinvigorate and fulfill the promise of the American dream. Offering insights, advice, and solutions, The Nordic Theory of Everything makes a convincing argument that we can rebuild our society, rekindle our optimism, and restore independence to our relationships and lives.
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by Anu Partanen
Reviewed by C J Singh (Berkeley, California)
A "Must-Read" Book
Noticing the high praise by Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, I purchased a copy last week. Yesterday, at the Books Inc Store, Berkeley, I attended the author’s lively presentation. She answered audience questions with precise knowledge, concision, and grace.
“THE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING: In Search of a Better Life," documented with more than 400 research citations and written in highly engaging style is an excellent example of lucid critical analysis.
The widely held stereotype in the US of Nordic countries is that they are “nanny states” that discourage individuality and impose high taxes. In fact, the Nordic countries foster enhanced adult individuality by minimizing dependencies on family members and employers. And their Nordic countries' taxes are comparable to the US taxes.Just how they accomplish is convincingly detailed in the book.
The subtitle “In Search of a Better Life” accurately describes the author’s view-point and tone. An immigrant to the US who arrived from Finland eight years ago, now in love with the country of her adoption, she is also proud of her heritage. Rightly so, the Nordic countries have been consistently top-ranked as the happiest. The US is not even in the top ten.
Partanen offers suggestions based on the “The Nordic Theory of Love” (Chapter 2): for better “Family Values for Real" (Chapter 3); for children “Attaining Educational Success” (Chapter 4); for better health care “How Universal Health Care Could Set You Free” (Chapter 5). The titles and subtitles of the next four chapters are also equally apt: “Ask What Your Country Can Do for You”; “Bringing Back the American Dream”; “Business as Unusual: How to Run a Company in the Twenty-First Century”; “The Pursuit of Happiness: It’s Time to Rethink Success.”
Recently, I posted an update of my review of the earlier edition of the most widely adopted college textbook in the US: Diane Hacker and Nancy Sumner’s “A Writer’s Reference: Eighth Edition.” Anu Partenen’s “THE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING: In Search of a Better Life” merits just as wide adoption for all college students.Not only for college students, I whole-heartedly recommend this book to all readers.
(May I add that
after having posted reviews of more than 120 books on amazon.com, this is the first that I recommend as a "must-read.") -- C J Singh
You will know much better the Nordic countries from the book. You will also see the stark contrast between America and Nordic countries. The author is in great position to write about it as she experienced the life and citizenship in both places for years.
In the world, many developed regions (including HONG Kong where I live) adopted social policies closer to America than the Nordic regions, though may not be as extreme as that of America. I also feel the overwhelming trend of widening wealth gap, inequality and the anxiety and rage in the society because of all the trouble and pressure such system brings to the people.
We need to rethink the purpose of human lives and in turn what human society is desirable.