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Across the Pond: An Englishman's View of America Paperback – 18 Jun 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (18 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393347648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393347647
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.5 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 357,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Acclaimed literary scholar and cultural theorist Terry Eagleton is Professor of Cultural Theory at the National University of Ireland, Galway, Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, and Distinguished Visiting Professor of English Literature at Notre Dame.

Terry Eagleton is the author of many books including The Idea of Culture (2000), Sweet Violence: The Idea of the Tragic (2002), the bestselling text Literary Theory: An Introduction (1983, 1996, 2008), Trouble with Strangers: A Study of Ethics (2009), and the forthcoming On Evil (2010).

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Review

"Terry Eagleton has a gift for the kind of generalizations that at first appear outrageous but seem, on reflection, annoyingly perceptive. Were I one of the expressive Americans he describes, I'd call this book awesome; as a constipated Brit, I'm inclined to say that it is not at all bad." ----Henry Hitchings, author, "The Secret Life of Words"

"It s all impossibly well argued, tendentious, provocative, sometimes slightly mad and occasionally quite wrong (just for the sake of it, I suspect). It s also great fun, and the perfect present for a thin-skinned friend across the pond." -- --Marcus Berkmann, The Spectator

"It s all impossibly well argued, tendentious, provocative, sometimes slightly mad and occasionally quite wrong (just for the sake of it, I suspect). It s also great fun, and the perfect present for a thin-skinned friend across the pond." ----Marcus Berkmann, The Spectator

About the Author

The author of more than forty books, Terry Eagleton has taught at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester. He lives in Dublin.

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3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Origen on 12 Sep 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mildly entertaining in places, but not Eagleton at his best - and at times the book drifts into unsophisticated condescension, obtuse put downs and dreary cliche. Several themes in the book were in need of much fuller development - the relationship between Puritan Christianity and the American mind is mentioned repeatedly but never interestingly explored, generalisations about Americans were frequently (to this reader) unjustified. The book does little really to explain the seductions of the consumer culture America (and the rest of the world increasingly) adores. The author, rather, looks askance in baffled unease at the world advanced (US style) capitalism is making and has made. There is something strange and forced, though, about the remove Eagleton assumes when talking about the USA - it's almost as though he imagines a UK which, until recently, had been entirely untouched by the tentacles of American culture and economics - and wishes things were more like they were in his youth. But this rhetorical posture - if it is such - fails to convince. Worth a read, perhaps, but Eagleton is on better form elsewhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jippu on 20 Sep 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had high expectations concerning Eagleton's bookon the US but came away disappointed. The jokes are pretty lame, the observations are often not generalisable and the Irish bias is very strong. Some parts are better than others but it is a little like Eagleton would not have put his heart on this book... And the comparisons with the UK/Ireland are not terribly interesting or sharp. Sorry to say, besause I am normally a big fan of Eagleton's (except about his opinions on Dawkins!)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on 17 Jun 2013
Format: Hardcover
'In a society where everyone is special, being special would seem to be nothing special.' How he loves to provoke, our Terry, and here he's having a ball. Though the eminent don of a dozen universities should know that DE Tocqueville is a solecism of the first water (we do not speak of De La Fontaine, De Montaigne or De Sade, or at least I hope not) and to mock the American tendency to say 'the 1800s' rather than 'the 19th century' is grossly unfair, since Italians have always done so without any noticeable loss of sprezzatura. I look forward to encountering more such unfairness in this little sugar-plum of a book
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 22 reviews
53 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Off the mark 26 May 2013
By Black Swan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am British and have lived in the US for ten years, so you would think the content of this book would be resonant with my own experiences. The perspective offered is quirky, anecdotal, amateurish and generalizes the highly personal observations and opinions of the author in a rather grating way. Both his description of typical British and American attitudes and behavior seemed off the mark much of the time. He is very anchored in his own generation and the specific places in each very diverse country he has been to. His humor is not really very funny, despite his trying very hard. There is also an undercurrent of superiority and mean-ness that is off-putting. He claims, for instance, that Americans use the word kids too much instead of children. First of all, who cares? Secondly in Glasgow, where I grew up, the childrens' hospital was referred to as the "Sick Kids", whereas my childrens' pre-school in the US always uses the word children in published materials, classroom reports and parent-teacher meetings. Reading between the lines I would guess he was only in the US for a few years at the most, didn't really fit in or enjoy it and his motivation in writing the book was to press home the point "you're not as great as you think" to Americans. Well, my guess is most of them don't care. This may find a readership with Brits and Irish who aren't that high on America, but even they will probably find it dreary and pedantic.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An Englishman's View of Himself 4 Dec 2013
By DJ Jonathan E. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Just because a work is not entirely worthless does not mean that it is not far from worthy. Eagleton makes the occasional good point, a nugget amidst the dross. However, most of the time he rather earnestly and onanistically explores his own navel, revealing more about his prejudices than the supposed subject. Much of the book is a tiresome slog through what can only be described as an intellectualist hall of mirrors, confusing and ultimately pointless.

Stereotypes and generalizations are a poor man's way of looking at the world, and despite a slightly amusing anecdote here and there, Eagleton never manages to get beyond a rather familiar and trite view of Americans. If there's an obvious target, Eagleton shoots at it regardless of whether it's been hit before or is worth hitting in the first place. As an Englishman living in the US for over forty years, I felt that Eagleton has simply not observed the wide variety of humanity, let alone the landscapes and cities, to be found in this country. Eagleton rightly takes aim at American foreign policy, but one doubts that any Americans will take note after his generally dismissive, even abusive, comments and insults towards them. He is a master of the old English skill of delivering sugar-coated venom.

There is a tradition in the world of drama of describing an appallingly awful performance as "extraordinary." This is an extraordinary book. Extraordinary that it found a publisher and extraordinary that the author found it peculiar that some publishers turned him down. He is too clever by half and quite overly full of himself.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
What tripe 11 May 2014
By M. R. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I am not often moved to write a review on Amazon, but I feel I just had to after finishing this book just seconds ago.

My background: I was born, raised and educated in Wales (part of the UK). My dad's Welsh, my mum German. I studied at Manchester University for 3 years and lived and worked in London for 4. I've never been to the US, but I have plenty of US friends and have read many US books (fact and fiction) and newspapers and journals.

Well, it's no wonder that I never got on with the English if this is their attitude to life.

Terry Eagleton was already familiar to me from his book on literary theory (I did an MA in English Literature). That was pretty much full of tripe, too.

I'd say about 1/3 of this book is accurate. The rest is just vile fantasy.

And some of his comments just take the biscuit. Comparing Hamlet's dying words to Steve Jobs's. Well, does he not realise that the former is a fictional character and his words have been written for him?

Then the comment about how the Americans believe that will power is all that is needed to achieve something and that if someone wants to fly to Rio and there is no airport nearby then if they believe enough and they will grow wings... How facetious. Where there's a will there's a way means that you find a way to achieve what you want. Like catching a bus or a train to the nearest airport. Not just willing yourself to grow wings.

The comment about how only in America will you find really long freight trains. My dear.. come to Germany, where I now live, and see the length of the trains here. Just because the UK doesn't believe in the rail for freight doesn't mean to say that the rest of the world doesn't either.

And as for flag waving.. have you seen the Danes? Nearly every house will have a flagpole in the garden.

And as for the recommendations at the end... Are they meant to make the Americans more like the English? What an awful prospect.

There are things that I don't like about Americans (too loud when they talk [very noticeable in Europe], cannot tolerate the slightest criticism about their country [whereas the English tear their country to pieces], and they can't laugh about themselves [but then, neither can the Germans]), but there are a lot of positive things about them, too, and that is lost in all the vile remarks in this book (e.g. philanthropy, striving to be better people, good at impromptu speech-making, better-edited books, and at least you can have a serious conversation with them, which I never managed to do with an English person in the UK as they tend to make everything into a joke).

Anyway, the upshot is that I am embarrassed to think that Americans will think all people from Britain are as .. as nasty as this person.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Greatly Disappointing - Lots of Blather 21 Aug 2014
By Patrick Prendergast - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Started off OK, but soon became very tedious. By the end of the book, Mr. Eagleton was in full-blown navel-gazing mode. I forced myself to finish it. For that I should be given a refund. I am sure that will not happen. Isn't that a bit ironic since Mr.Eagleton disdains capitalism? I am sure he never voted for Margaret Thatcher either :-) . I have deposited the book in the circular file. There's no sense asking another person to endure what I endured.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
An enjoyable read 29 Jun 2013
By Raminak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is funny and perceptive. For someone who has lived on both sides of the pond, many of the observations on British and American attitudes ring true. One feels though that the book is somewhat rushed. It is more like a series of bullet points and a certain level of discontinuity in the flow of topics. There is a much longer and more in-depth book 'willing' to burst out. Terry Eagleton might consider this book (really an essay) as an outline for an updated version.
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