Jan Sjunnesson’s The Swedish Story: from Extreme Experiment to Normal Nation (revised, 2013) is very informative. It summarises a great deal of Sweden’s history in a concise and readable way.
Sjunnesson outlines Sweden’s development during the nineteenth century, from feudal to late-industrial, without all the stages in between which in the Anglosphere we have taken for granted. What is also fascinating is the absence, as late as the late 20th century, of review procedures for judicial/administrative decisions. That is also something we take for granted in the Anglophone tradition.
In discussing Swedish political developments from the 1960s through the 2000s, Sjunnesson lists numerous scandals which plagued various leftist governments, parties, and trade unions.
Sjunnesson concludes his book by outlining his personal story. He worked as a teacher and principal in disadvantaged schools, where students from non-Swedish backgrounds formed a high proportion of the enrolments. It was his frustration at the failures of the Swedish system in integrating students which caused him, a former leftist, to come to a different view about education, politics and society.
It was his frustration at the failures of the Swedish system in integrating students which caused him, a former leftist, to come to a different view about education, politics and society.
The Swedish Story is a very useful book for any reader who wishes to gain a comprehensive overview of Sweden’s social, political, and economic development, and its unique characteristics – a tendency to leave all social functions to the state, while maintaining a personal reserve so pronounced that Swedes can make the English look emotional.
Judy Stove-Wilson, PhD, University of South Wales Australia
The book can be purchased at Amazon, Adlibris, Bokus and elsewhere online in print or as ebook.