In The Naked Swiss: A Nation Behind 10 Myths, Clare O’Dea promises to change the way the world thinks about modern Switzerland – and give Swiss readers much to think about too. In ten chapters O’Dea dismantles the most positive myths of modern Switzerland (The Swiss are Rich/Brilliant/Have the Perfect Democracy) with the same sharp journalistic eye as she assesses the negative ones (The Swiss are Crooked Bankers/Xenophobic/Helped the Nazis).
The Naked Swiss introduces readers to a cast of real Swiss, painting a lively country through many anecdotes. This is Switzerland of the twenty-first century – a country of working mothers, disgraced banks and multicultural football teams. It is a book that isn’t afraid to address past shame, current crises and national failings. O’Dea speaks five languages, has visited all 26 cantons, and is the mother of three Swiss children, and her deep knowledge of the country is on display page after page.
The starting point for me was that I felt the Swiss were poorly served by the clichés – some flattering, many negative – that had crystallised around them. Their true nature was obscured by false assumptions and fixed ideas. To paint an accurate picture, I wanted to go through the dirty laundry and great achievements, and get close to the Swiss at their best and at their worst.
The Naked Swiss features portraits of fascinating Swiss, past and present – refugees from Stalin’s Soviet Union, one of the country’s last surviving suffragettes, a street-sweeping philosopher, a pragmatic private banker and a president with no regrets, to name but a few. It also provides all the context you need to make your mind up about this complex and dynamic land.
The book is available in Swiss bookshops along with the translations, La Suisse mise à nu and Die wahre Schweiz (Helvetiq 2018). If you would like order a copy of The Naked Swiss online, you can buy the book from the Swiss publisher Bergli Books, or Helvetiq for the translations (édition française, deutsche Fassung). The ebook is available through most online retailers.