An outsider's irreverent and piercing look at the world's remaining superpower. In the wonderful travelogue tradition of Bill Bryson, James Laxer reflects on contemporary America as only a non-American can. As a leading Canadian political scientist, Laxer is just off-center enough to be puzzled by our daily routines and startled by our societal norms. Armed with an incisive wit and a keen eye for social conflict, as well as a vast knowledge of history, economics, and international affairs, Laxer paints a surprisingly odd and fascinating portrait of a seemingly familiar land. With a fresh perspective on everything from the American propensity to invoke God in everyday conversation to the "epic portions" of food served in Southern restaurants, from the number of emails to which an Amazon.com employee must respond per hour (twelve), to the fact that less than half of all Americans exercise their right to help choose the world's most powerful leader (an option that is the envy of the other 95 percent of the planet's population), Laxer helps us to see ourselves anew, in all our glory, quirkiness, and arrogance. His travels take him through thirty-four states, from the lair of the Michigan militia in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, to Huntsville, Texas, on the day Karla Faye Tucker is executed; from a Buffalo Bills game where he sits with a whiskey-swigging group of cops on their day off, to a convention of red-wine-sipping socialist scholars in Manhattan; from an abortion clinic in Seattle, Washington, the founder of which drives to work in a bulletproof vest, to Smith & Wesson's Firearms Academy in Springfield, Massachusetts, where it dawns on him that he is being taught to kill other people. In an irreverent, sharp, and thoroughly original tribute to the twin deities of Democracy and Hypocrisy in America (roll over, de Tocqueville), Laxer offers us a vision of ourselves both jarringly familiar and strange.
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Published November 1, 2001
by New Press, The.