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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels 
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Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 10:57 am
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Post The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
As usual, I won't do a plot summary or list characters. I will instead to a general comment on the series that I don't think has been made elsewhere, except when I did this same review on Amazon.com. As an aside, because that isn't the subject of this review, I highly recommend this whole series.

The picture of Sweden given in this series, which may or may not be accurate, must have, or should have, a profound effect on two groups of politically-minded people in the U.S.

For the extreme conservatives who paint Sweden as some sort of socialist demonic realm, it should be quite a surprise to see that Sweden has a market economy. The means of production are, mostly, in private hands. The controls placed by the state on the market may be greater than they are here but they are not onerous enough to stop people from making huge fortunes.

For the progressives who see Sweden as an idealized vision of the future, the books should be a big shock. Capitalism survives but that wouldn't surprise them. They know that Sweden talks socialism but does not walk the walk. What would surprise them is that Swedish capitalism can be just as cut-throat and occasionally corrupt as business anywhere else.

What is worse is that the advent of a caring state has not solved the problems of male-female relationships and that the system does not seem to prevent abuse any better than anywhere else in the world. And topping it off is a vision of a Sweden where the inner circle of the state's security apparatus can be _believably_ painted as carrying out a horrible conspiracy over many years against an individual whose innocence they knew about.


Sun Nov 07, 2010 4:38 pm
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Post Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
I thought the books were very good, in any case. The third not as much as the first two.


Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:03 pm
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Post Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
It's interesting how you break out the arguments. I wouldn't have thought that anyone these days who is reasonably educated and read would think of Sweden as something akin to a communist state - but I guess cliches and stereotypes survive. I wouldn't think the other extreme was a very common viewpoint, either - that Sweden is some sort of pinnacle paradise. It's certainly successful, and probably about as far as you can go in the direction of big-S Socialism without going over the line into excessive state control (a la big-C Communism), but it's still a modern European country and not too dissimilar from most in that respect. I believe they stay near the top in quality of life rankings

That said, I can't imagine who would think that even a perfect cradle-to-grave socialist system would cure all personal and social ills. If the great popularity of these books in the US helps foster a more sensible view of Sweden and the good and bad points of its sociopolitical system, it can only be good, I think.

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Sun Nov 07, 2010 5:55 pm
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Post Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
I think the books will serve many purposes and will be able to serve them only because they are so entertaining.

They will make people more aware of the issues the author was trying to address, the mistreatment and commodifying of women. And the ease with which one who has been labeled mentally ill can be denied justice.

They will make people more aware of the nature of Swedish society. As Jim points out, it is odd that educated people have such weird ideas about Sweden but some do. And there are uneducated people, in a broad sense, who could read and enjoy these novels and, horror of horrors, learn something.


Mon Nov 08, 2010 8:21 am
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Post Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
I was interested to learn that Stieg Larsson was once a pillar of Swedish science fiction fandom, publishing many fanzines and sometimes chairing conventions.

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Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:48 am
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Post Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
beamjockey wrote:
I was interested to learn that Stieg Larsson was once a pillar of Swedish science fiction fandom, publishing many fanzines and sometimes chairing conventions.

He and Jonathan Lethem probably get together for a glass of something lofty and pretentious when they're in the same glittering metropolis. :D

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Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:00 pm
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Post Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
Um, aren't these books *fiction*? Do we want the rest of the world judging the US based on what happens in novels written here?

I thoroughly enjoyed all three movies, and haven't read any of the books yet, but it wouldn't occur to me in a million years to believe I understand anything about Swedish society or economics from either. I saw the documentary film about Stieg Larsson as well, and put much more stock in the picture of Sweden that emerged from that than I do in the content of the Millenium trilogy.

I also spent some time in Sweden in 1984-85 (four trips of eight weeks each), so I have something of a clue from that. At that time I was reading Robert Ludlum novels, but I did not conclude from those that the CIA was likely riddled with corruption and secret internal cabals. Perhaps I should have been!

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Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:34 pm
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Post Re: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sequels
I would have gotten a little bit more out of the books if, in the front matter, they had put a statement like:

1 Swedish kr = 0.15 US $


Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:53 am
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