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Everything is Wonderful: Memories of a Collective Farm in Estonia Hardcover – 1 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press (1 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802122175
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802122179
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 340,841 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Sigrid Rausing's memoir is a charming, unsettling and unusually intimate glimpse into the life of an Estonian village in transition."--Anne Applebaum "A deliciously enjoyable, fascinating and important book that works as scholarship, diary and chronicle--it's a historical study of place, memory and tragedy that reveals the hellish experience of Estonia under Nazis and Soviets, it's a unique anthropological examination of a peculiar now vanished civilisation, the collective farm, and it's also a delightfully quirky diary of a Swedish PhD in the early 1990s that chronicles extraordinary lives of ordinary Estonian people with a playful curiosity."--Simon Sebag Montefiore "Sigrid Rausing's lyrical and evocative description of a former collective farm on a remote peninsula in Estonia portrays the transition from Soviet rule to independence. A startling and beautiful book."--Lady Antonia Fraser "In this disorientating memoir, Sigrid Rausing describes life as an anthropologist in post-Soviet Estonia. The narrator, her subjects, and their country are caught between worlds, unsure where they are going, why they are going there or indeed if they are going anywhere at all. It is lovely, gentle and very human."--Oliver Bullough "Intimate, lyrical and evocative--Sigrid Rausing's memoir captures a forgotten world, on the cusp between Soviet occupation and a Western future. A finely drawn literary account of people and places, encompassing history, geography, culture and biography."--Edward Lucas "A delicate, precise, and richly informative memoir of a forgotten Europe and a vanished world."--Timothy Garton Ash "In 1993-94, Sigrid Rausing spent a year doing anthropological fieldwork in a former collective farm in post-Soviet Estonia. Twenty years on, that work, and the diaries she kept at the time, and later during a return visit in 2003, come together in this remarkable and instructive book, where continually interesting individual characters are given a broader historical and cultural context. Dr. Rausing combines a keen eye for the telling detail with striking--at times lyrical--descriptions of rural lives and landscapes, and in documenting the "lost futures" of those working there, reminds us again of the dreadful human cost of totalitarianism."--Robert Conquest "Beautiful, gentle and haunting. Every single edge in it seems to be frayed. And what a triumph it is to have allowed that frayedness to survive the whole process of writing it down. It is alive like an old frayed tapestry found in old trunk. Perhaps archaically beautiful is the phrase I am groping after. Like a sort of dance of the blind, slow and gentle, feeling its way, the shoes moving carefully over the floor."--Adam Nicolson "An intimate look at the devastations of communism in Estonia... [a] sensuous, character-rich portrait of the denuded landscape, ruined economy, and erratic, alcoholic personalities she encountered as a dreamy, lonely observer and teacher... [Rausing] unearths fascinating history of this remote area, annexed and depleted by Russia, then Germany, then the Soviet Union... A mellifluous portrait of a country slowly and painfully pulling itself into the European world."--Kirkus Reviews "Evocative...With a keen, level eye, Rausing reconstructs the blasted landscape of abandoned farmhouses and watchtowers, the truculent personalities of the locals, including her louche drunken landlord Toivo, and the terrible scars of history." --Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Sigrid Rausing is a writer, philanthropist, anthropologist, and publisher. She is the founder of the Sigrid Rausing Trust, and publisher of Granta magazine and Granta Books. She is the author of "History, Memory, and Identity in Post-Soviet Estonia: The End of a Collective Farm" (Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology). "Everything Is Wonderful" is her first trade book.

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By guido franzinetti on 4 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
quite simply, one of the best descriptions and analyses of post-Soviet transitions. (Post Communist Eastern European transitiosn were a slightly different matter,) It is refreshingly free of the morbid nosalgia for the Soviet era which sometimes crops up in the of critical transitologists.The second part of the book is not as good as the first, but it remains an excellent book overall. Readers interested in a more academically structured book may still refer to her 2004 book on the very same Estonian collective farm.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A desperate book. Presumably published because the author could afford to pay. Neither travel book, biography or scientific interest. very over reviewed in the papers on the `you scratch my back, I`ll scratch yours ` principle apparwently, which makes so many reviews untrustworthy these days.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Luzzi on 15 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
thank you
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Unfamiliar but intriguing 14 May 2014
By JYK - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I picked up the book, not knowing much about Estonia. Estonians seem very stoic, having survived brutal occupations by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. They don't warm up easily to outsiders as evinced by the experiences of Peace Corps volunteers (one was told that smiling all the time is 'contrived', and the other thought people hated him and was shocked to see them crying when he left). The author, a Swede living in the U.K., shares her experiences and observations after spending time in Noarootsi. It was interesting to learn about the efforts to revive the Swedish presence as the community was decimated after the war with only a handful having stayed under a pitiful condition. The book is written in a style that is objective yet warm and engaging, and I feel a bit closer to Estonia and her admirable people.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read everything I can get my hands on about ... 1 Sept. 2014
By WV Radio Guy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read everything I can get my hands on about Estonia, and I learn something with each read. Unfortunately, I learned little from this book. I think there's a little too much personal interaction that is only interesting to the writer, and not the reader.
What is the point? Search and you will not find. 4 Nov. 2014
By Sycamore Calvert - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Somewhere, painfully there is a story here, half told, mostly silent book about not sure what. No clear description, you must search and search for meaning, Swedes are so to the point of honesty as to be rude but in the writing, you wander around lost and hopeless, maybe the book has no point, hurt to read, I hoped for more, but got a limp handshake.
By Mary Ellen Rock - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I find social history and anthropology very interesting. The book while not a political statement explains a lot about the politics of the
area. A society in transition is especially important and interesting.
Four Stars 8 Sept. 2014
By andrew h deuble - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent reading about the hardships experienced in an occupied Estonia during the Soviet Russia occupation..
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