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The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life Paperback – June 27, 2017

4.6 out of 5 stars 834 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

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)

"...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)

A Best Nonfiction Book of Summer 2016 (Bustle)

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 passionate and intelligent argument." (Publishers Weekly)

"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 Best Book of Summer 2016 (O, the Oprah Magazine)

"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 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)

"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)

"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 MUST READ, SUMMER 2016" (New York Post)

From the Back Cover

Moving to America in 2008, Finnish journalist Anu Partanen quickly went from confident, successful professional to wary, self-doubting mess. She found that navigating the basics of everyday life was much more complicated and stressful than anything she 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 they shared her deep apprehension. To understand why life in the United States is so different than that in Finland, Partanen began to look closely at both.

In The Nordic Theory of Everything, Partanen compares and contrasts life 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. As Partanen explains, the Nordic approach allows citizens to enjoy more individual freedom and independence than the American way.

Partanen wants to open Americans’ eyes to how much better things can be—to provide the opportunity to live a healthy, safe, economically secure, upwardly mobile life for everyone. 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 true freedom to our relationships and lives.


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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 27, 2017)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 448 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0062316559
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0062316554
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 1.01 x 5.31 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 834 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
834 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on July 17, 2016
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5.0 out of 5 stars A "Must-Read" Book
By Dr.C.J.Singh.Wallia on July 17, 2016
THE NORDIC THEORY OF EVERYTHING: In Search of a Better Life
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
-------------
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Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2018
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5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for young Americans!
By Susan PD on December 8, 2018
My husband and I were lucky enough to spend a year in Finland on a Fulbright ('88-'89) when our kids were 12, 6 and 4. We fell in love with the country and the people and consider it our second home. When we lived there, I was amazed nearly every day by what I learned about the Finnish social system-- things that the Finns themselves often took for granted (until I let them know that Americans did NOT think health care/education/basic sustenance etc. were a human right). As a result of their humane social system, I found most people there more relaxed about themselves, their family life and their futures than almost any American I knew. Finally Anu Partenan has written a meticulously researched book that explains exactly what we witnessed and the philosophy behind it. I loved the book, found it profoundly true, and just ordered a stack of copies for the young people on my holiday list as I truly believe it is what we need to be fighting for. When I lived in Finland, I often said "if American women (in particular but men too) knew what my Finnish friends had, they'd be rioting in the streets." Read it and share it.....maybe even send it to your member of Congress this holiday season.
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48 people found this helpful
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Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2016
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Top reviews from other countries

George Pearson
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent if you’re American, good if you’re not
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 14, 2020
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8 people found this helpful
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N. Eustace
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent, englightening read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 28, 2018
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13 people found this helpful
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Ettafe
5.0 out of 5 stars easy read and really informative
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 13, 2019
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2 people found this helpful
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R. Roy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful comparison of USA and Nordic life
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 15, 2019
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2 people found this helpful
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Peter D
4.0 out of 5 stars Brits take warning.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 10, 2021
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