Sweden’s Dark Soul
The Unravelling of a Utopia
How has the poster child of ‘cradle to grave’ welfare fared in recent decades, and what have the strains on Swedish society revealed about its true nature?
Reporter Chang Frick grew up dark-haired in a nation of blonds. Ostracised as a child, in adulthood he set out to expose the hypocrisy of Swedish society. When he revealed the cover-up of mass sexual assaults on teen girls at a 2015 music festival, he provoked a chain reaction that rattled the nation. Sweden’s elites shirked responsibility and rushed to discredit him.
Although Sweden boasts the world’s oldest free press, its history of homogeneity and social engineering has created a culture where few dare dissent from consensus, those who do are driven to extremes, and there is no place for outsiders—even those who conform.
In this groundbreaking book, investigative journalist Kajsa Norman turns her fearless gaze on the oppressive forces at the heart of Sweden’s ‘model democracy’. Weaving the history of its social politics with the stories of Frick and other outcasts, Norman exposes the darkness in the Swedish soul.
‘Kajsa Norman’s account of Sweden’s real-life hypocrisy and contradictions is subtler and more gripping than any thriller. . . the author’s outrage bubbles from the page . . . [a] lucid and insightful book.’ — The Times
‘This hard-hitting book is permeated by a deep sense of disillusionment . . . [Norman is] a powerful writer.’ — The Guardian
‘Norman has turned a reporter’s gaze on her home country . . . [revealing] a conspiracy of silence by an establishment anxious not to lift the lid on the growing cultural tensions.’ — The Financial Times
‘[Norman’s account of] the ongoing influence of the country’s totalitarian social democratic origins [is] interesting and original.’ —Times Literary Supplement
‘Richly informative . . . fascinating.’ — Literary Review
‘As compelling as Swedish noir . . .[Norman’s] incisive study mesmerises, amazes, shocks.’— The Hindu
‘Thought-provoking . . . Norman shows why it takes courage to speak the truth in a country with the world’s oldest free press . . . her book deserves our attention.’ — Acton Institute
‘Written in the best tradition of Stieg Larsson, but with the difference that everything here is real, Sweden’s Dark Soul vividly describes all that’s nasty about the welfare state, from racism and psychopathic bureaucracy to media cover-ups of atrocities against children.’ — The Telegraph India
‘Sweden is often held up as a thriving, rich democracy that other nations aspire to replicate. Weaving together history with fascinating personal narratives, Kajsa Norman shines a light into the hidden darkness lurking at the edges of Swedish society and the oppressive groupthink that threatens to eclipse its enduring brightness.’ — Brian Klaas, University College London, author of The Despot’s Apprentice
‘What happens to a society when national virtue-seeking becomes institutionalised, and the country’s image and ideology become more important than its individuals? What happens to national debates when the media ceases to publish stories deemed too controversial? Sweden’s Dark Soul is not a comfortable read, but it is an important one.’ — Sigrid Rausing, publisher and editor of Granta
Praise for the author:
‘[Kajsa Norman offers] fresh perspectives on what the world is really like.’ — Henning Mankell, social critic and author
Kajsa Norman is a London-based investigative journalist and author. She has previously published books on Cuba, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. She has also served as a press and information officer for the Swedish Armed Forces in Afghanistan and Mali. Her most recent books are Bridge Over Blood River: The Rise and Fall of the Afrikaners, and A Hero’s Curse: The Perpetual Liberation of Venezuela.