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Gnarr: How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World [Kindle Edition]

Jon Gnarr
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

In the epicenter of the world financial crisis, a comedian launched a joke campaign that didn’t seem so funny to the country’s leading politicians . . .

It all started when Jón Gnarr founded the Best Party in 2009 to satirize his country’s political system. The financial collapse in Iceland had, after all, precipitated the world-wide meltdown, and fomented widespread protest over the country’s leadership.

Entering the race for mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland’s capital, Gnarr promised to get the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park into downtown parks, free towels at public swimming pools, a “drug-free Parliament by 2020” . . . and he swore he’d break all his campaign promises.

But then something strange started happening: his campaign began to succeed. And in the party’s electoral debut, the Best Party emerged as the biggest winner. Gnarr promptly proposed a coalition government, although he ruled out partners who had not seen all five seasons of The Wire.

And just like that, a man whose previous foreign-relations experience consisted of a radio show (in which he regularly crank-called the White House and police stations in the Bronx to see if they had found his lost wallet) was soon meeting international leaders and being taken seriously as the mayor of a European capital.

Here, Gnarr recounts how it all happened and, with admirable candor, describes his vision of a more enlightened politics for the future. The point, he writes, is not to be afraid to get involved—or to take on the system.

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'Definitely my favourite mayor. There's actually no competition.' - Noam Chomsky

'More mayors in the world should be like Jón Gnarr.' - Lady Gaga

'Jón Gnarr has lent real humanity to the mayor's office with his wonderfully radical comedy, and dispelled all stagnancy through incendiary humour. His Best Party tackled the finance kings with prudent budgets and freed politics from corrupt power games. All in all the Best Party has changed Iceland!' - --Björk

'Jón Gnarr, the greatest accident in politics... Integral to Gnarr's ethos was the idea that politics is a cr*p job, just like any other cr*p job so we all have the right to become involved just because we feel like it.' - --The New Statesman

'Jón Gnarr, the greatest accident in politics... Integral to Gnarr's ethos was the idea that politics is a cr*p job, just like any other cr*p job so we all have the right to become involved just because we feel like it.' - --The New Statesman

About the Author

Jón Gnarr became Mayor of Reykjavík in 2010 and holds the post until May 2014. Born in 1967, Gnarr has previously worked as a comedian and actor before forming the Best Party in 2009; conceived as a satirical party, it aims to make the lives of citizens more fun.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars terrific book 13 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very well written, easy to read and an insight in to a man who was prepared to be different leader.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping memoir from comedian turned Mayor of Reykjavik Gnarr 24 Jun. 2014
By Irene - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When Icelandic comedian and actor Jon Gnarr founded the satirical Best Party in 2009, it only cost him 5000 kronur (roughly 30 euros). It may have started as a joke, or so it seemed to the media and politicians alike, but the Best Party's plurality victory in the 2010 municipal elections made Gnarr Mayor of Reykjavik, sparked a political movement, and turned the world's eye to Iceland.

In this memoir, Gnarr recalls his upbringing, espouses some love for Icelandic culture, and details the entire crazy ride of becoming mayor of Iceland's capital and only large city. His translated and straight-forward prose holds a hint of comedy that transcends translation ("And an idea is born when two ideas have sex with each other, and a third idea comes into being."), and it is easy to see why he has garnered international attention from the likes of Noam Chomsky and Lady Gaga. In addition to his honest recounting, he peppers the chapters with interludes from his party website and an interview of his wife Johanna (Joga) Johannsdottir.

As mayor in a country crippled by the recent finanical crisis, Gnarr had to quickly dial from comedic relief to bureocratic icon, making tough decisions including merging schools and saving near-bankrupt energy companies. Beyond the political decisions themselves, it is touching to read about his stress of his political office, his firm stance on a peaceful Iceland, and his commitment to gay and transgender rights--which would explain his 2010 appearance at the Gay Pride parade.

Now that Gnarr has stepped down from his office after not seeking a second term, it is unclear what the future holds. As someone who knew little of Icelandic history and culture before reading this memoir, I cannot wait to see what he does next.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best...Best...Best! 22 Jun. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Almost as a joke, Gnarr started a movement that changed the political face of Iceland. This bio/memoir is the fascinating story how it all came to be and provides a ray of hope in the otherwise dismal state of world politics. A perfect supplement to the book would be the documentary of the Best Party campaign. [...]
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Memoirs of a Memorable Mayor of Iceland 2 Aug. 2014
By Windmill2011 - Published on
During the financial crisis in Iceland a new political party emerged in the city of Reykjavik, the Best Party. By contrast and irony this new party exposed the flaws of the establishment. A grassroots party which after a very refreshing and hilaric campaign (their campaign video is still on YouTube) won a landslide victory and became the Biggest Party. Their front man Jon Gnarr became Mayor. The book is an essential case study of the conversion from Best to Biggest and the personal reflections of a man who succeeded in staying in office, not as an experienced politician, and making a difference through management by speech and statements of principle. The writer is also providing insights in the closely knitted society that Iceland is. At the end one wonders what would happen if mayors rule the world (see also Benjamin Barber's book about this question). In summary an entertaining, interesting and inspirational read. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Be Bold, Be Brave, Beyond Your Wildest Thoughts...Success Manifests...Humor Leads the Way 1 Jan. 2015
By Nancy Drew - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A thoroughly delightful read and proves Margaret Mead's quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." And it was done through Facebook.

Humor, honesty and forthrightness brought success to Jon and his friends who in a good will moment said hey let's create a political party, "The Best Party" and off to an adventure they went.

Fun book learning about another country (Iceland is green and the original word meant island) rather than have the learning come about because we went to war with that country is a breath of fresh air in itself. How a little country took care of the corrupt bankers. A story with a good ending.

We wait to see what this young man will do next with his life.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not quite Great. 17 Nov. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I saw Jon Gnarr interviewed on Craig Ferguson a few months ago and found his story fascinating. I finally got my hands on a copy of his book about forming his own political party, The Best Party in Reykjavik. Some chapters of this book were more interesting than others and occasionally it felt a little overly self praising, but overall I found the book interesting and informative and definitely know a lot more about Gnarr, Reykjavik and politics than I did before reading. At the end of the day – it’s a nice short read so if you are interested, definitely give the book a shot!
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