The 2001 edition of Lonely Planet’s Scandinavian & Baltic Europe, the one which says that “Swedes are generally decent and serious”, also says “other Scandinavians resent Sweden’s quietly assumed superiority”. I always thought, “Oh, whatever” when reading this, but then came across this in a book from the ’70s called Så Fungerar Sverige that we found in the secondhand shop:

Hmm. Now where would other Scandinavian countries get the idea that Sweden has a superiority complex? (“Stor i Norden” means “big in the Nordic region”.) The preceding page, “Liten i världen”, (small in the world) demonstrates how Sweden attempted to get the superpowers to pay attention to the real problems in the world rather than the Cold War pissing contest.

The book seems to be aimed at pre-teens and covers all kinds of historical, political, and social issues. I get the feeling that this book was pretty popular in the ’70s and has now become obsolete; there were several copies of it in the secondhand shop. It’s a very interesting artifact and full of insights about Sweden’s self-image.

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