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The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World

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The Eagle's Shadow

Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World

By Mark Hertsgaard

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Format: Paperback, 256 pages, New edition Edition
Published In: United Kingdom, 05 May 2003
"The Eagle's Shadow" is an exploration of the American mindset. In his attempt to get under the skin of the Janus face of America, Mark Hertsgaard uses a breadth of opinion and reference, from the expected - de Tocqueville, de Beauvoir, Santayana - to the surprising - Beach Boys and Elvis Costello. The Chinese outnumber Americans five to one, but each of those Americans consumes 53 times more goods and services. If all six billion people on the planet adopted the US lifestyle, we'd need four Earths to provide all the necessary raw materials. According to one poll, the majority of Americans think Israel is an Arab country, which perhaps explains why public opinion has had little effect on foreign policy. Hertsgaard intends his book to be a starting point, a talking point and a clarion call for a different, more responsible kind of global engagement. How can America be so powerful and yet so innocent? So ignorant of foreign lands, peoples and languages, yet so certain it knows what's best for everyone? How can its individual citizens be so open, friendly and generous but its foreign policy so arrogant and domineering? And why is it shocked when the objects of its policies grumble, protest or even strike back in anger? How can a nation so clever at business and selling its products overseas be so oblivious to how outsiders regard it? The answers to these and many other questions will explain why America leaves so many observers at home and abroad both admiring and uneasy, envious and appalled, enchanted but bewildered. And what are the choices and challenges facing us in a world that becomes more Americanized every day?

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About the Author

Mark Hertsgaard is an American journalist, author and broadcaster. He is the author of Earth Odyssey: Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future, A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles and On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency. His journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Times, and many other publications, and he is a regular contributor to National Public Radio. He lives in San Francisco.


In May 2001, Hertsgaard (Earth Odyssey: Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future) began a six-month journey through 15 countries to interview people of all sorts, from bus drivers to former parliamentarians, about one thing: the United States. Each chapter of his book opens with an anecdote illustrating a perception he found to be widespread: the United States is a land of vast wealth but also gross self-indulgence; American leaders are influential but arrogant and nave; and American citizens have immense freedom but are nonetheless insulated and ignorant. The impressions Hertsgaard gathers, however, serve primarily as springboards from which he plunges into his own blunt, sometimes dour analysis of American attitudes, practices and institutions. Hertsgaard at one point tells of a Cuban boy he met after America's presidential elections. "It sounds like you are having trouble with your democracy in the United States," the boy teases. "Perhaps Cuba should send you election observers next time." The wisecrack is an apt introduction to Hertsgaard's interpretation of the Florida ballot impasse, which he thinks exemplifies the faults of America's democratic process. If Hertsgaard's strength lies in elaborating upon foreigners' perceptions, however, his weakness lies in the way he addresses his readers. "I know that parts of this book will be difficult for some Americans to hear," he writes, in a tone a bit too superior. Agents, Ellen Levine and Diana Finch. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

'A brave attempt to establish and describe an intimate relationship between what you could call the good and bad sides of America' Guardian 'Most Americans living overseas will recognise what Hertsgaard has to say' Sunday Times

EAN: 9780747563952
ISBN: 0747563950
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Dimensions: 19.2 x 12.8 centimetres (0.21 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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