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Don't Tread on Me: Anti-Americanism Abroad [Hardcover]

Carol Gould
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

30 Sep 2009
Don't Tread on Me is Carol Gould's journey through the astonishing world of British and European anti-Americanism. From Yanks being spat on, to other acts, the level of US-bashing has evolved into something more than just Bush-hatred. Wrapped in the anti-American fever sweeping Europe and Britain is fierce resentment of the 'Zionist lobby' in the United States and a deep loathing of America's support for Israel.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books,USA (30 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594032394
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594032394
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.7 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,636,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Carol Gould rightly turns her rage on the most acceptable prejudice of our time: the racism of the anti-racists, the intolerance of the tolerant and the reactionary-ism of the progressives. Anti-Americans have found a doughty opponent in Carol Gould. --Douglas Murray, writer and Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Carol Gould is a broadcaster, documentary maker and writer. She has been a commissioning editor for drama at ITV and a script editor for numerous drama productions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By HuddsOn
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I found it very easy to identify with this author's predicament.

Just imagine that you had settled in a socially and economically advanced country that was nominally an ally of Britain (say, Spain), you had integrated into their way of life and contributed to their economy, and yet everywhere you went you found yourself harangued, browbeaten and berated about Britain's supposedly abysmal human rights record, wretched institutions, nugatory achievements and ghastly cultural exports, not to mention having unfavourable comments made about your ethnic and religious background. Imagine also that some of the most crass and bigoted comments came from neighbours, colleagues and people you regarded as friends.

Would you stand your ground and try to convince them they were wrong, at the risk of inviting even harsher censure? Attempt to mollify your accusers by pretending to agree with them? Or just lose your accent, change your surname and keep your head down?

Carol Gould has taken the fourth option - flight. She is, at the time of writing, making preparations for a permanent return to her country of origin. It's our loss. Her credentials sound impressive- she is a Phi Beta Kappa, meaning she is among the brightest 1% of American university graduates, and has lived here for 32 years, during which times she has worked as a script and commissioning editor, film-maker and playwright, and become a naturalised British citizen.

Don't Tread On Me is a book that most people will either love or hate. I loved it, so it's with some reluctance I feel I can only give it three stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shameful 8 May 2013
By Stroma
Format:Hardcover
It is embarrassing and shameful the way some of our fellow Britons as well as members of the immigrant community treat Americans. This book is a very well written account covering the years that the author has been here.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Over the top 13 Dec 2011
Format:Hardcover
Of course there is anti Americanism just as there are anti UK sentiments, anti Islam sentiments and anti Jewish sentiments all round the world. I live in the UK and I have numerous American relatives and friends who regularly travel here to London and stay for several months at a time. I checked with them in case I was missing something but none have experienced the kind of poisonous experience related here in this book. Yes, anti Americanism was more accented here while George W Bush was in charge but try talking to Americans about the French and all you get is jokes about them only knowing how to surrender to Germans. Talk to them about Mexicans and they really get going. Talk to a Hispanic US citizen and see how they feel about your average white American's attitude. All things are relative.

In my opinion this is written by a rather paranoid, thin skinned, American Jew looking for the worst everywhere and no doubt disappointed when she doesn't find it. The book is not well constructed and the argument is poor. It might have more impact if it were better thought through and presented in a more professional way. As it is, it smacks of a few hurried notes of memories gathered together and formed into a bad tempered book of little proper literary worth. I would have expected more from a playwright and author.

The constant example of a well educated, kindly and tolerant US citizen as opposed to the general xenophobic person she seems to think is typical of a UK citizen is hard to see as a typical American. I have been there (to 35 states) and the Americans are as mixed in their attitudes as we are in the UK, but maybe less open and honest about their own prejudices.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 12 Dec 2009
By Reader
Format:Hardcover
This is a 21st century J'Accuse against the growth in anti-Americanism and its vile, incestuous sibling - antisemitism. The book is so much more than that, though. It is also a personal celebration of all that is great about America and Americans, a charge-sheet against the hypocrisy and envy that underpins the prejudice against them and a personal journal of a brave, plucky woman in strange times.

I think what I enjoyed most about Don't Tread On me is that Carol is not content to merely disprove the lies about American people. She goes to the next stage and proudly celebrates their pluckiness, their work ethic and all the other qualities that make them such a great people. I've read countless American non-fiction and fiction books but this is the one that in my opinion best captures the admirable spirit of the people. Informative, entertaining and above all damn right, it is a brilliant read.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Informative 20 Sep 2009
By Bernard Chapin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In my opinion, this was a good, but not great book. It certainly was extremely educational.
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 16 July 2009
By LMiller59 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Gould exposes what a frightening threat the now commonplace anti-American attitude is. Having traveled internationally I've experienced first-hand the bigotry of which Gould speaks, but I assumed it was just the usual Bush-bashing. She reveals her own personal safety threats living in Europe... quite terrifying. A real eye-opener about our international relations, and how to resolve the issues.
17 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A long-winded rant with little redeeming value: 1.5 stars 10 July 2009
By S. McGee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm sure there are deeply thoughtful and provocative books waiting to be written on the topic of anti-Americanism abroad. This simply isn't one of those. It's provocative, to be sure, but it's far from thoughtful, logical, coherent, or well-reasoned. Instead, it feels like a long narrative by a friend about you become increasingly worried, as she recounts all the nasty, evil and malicious things that everyone has done to her and how everyone has ganged up on her.

In her book, Carol Gould receives a "dressing down", she sits at dinner parties "being berated", she is "tormented" by people "screaming at me". Her only crime, it seems, is to be an American abroad who is willing to draw attention to the fact that there are good things about America. In fact, she's an American who has made her home in London for the last 32 years, as she reminds readers every few pages in this tedious and ultimately deeply irritating book, who now appears to be afraid to emerge from her home for fear of being verbally assaulted and harangued. A man of Middle Eastern appearance who declines to refund her her money for some stale rolls she bought the previous day (she takes one back to show him) is probably an illegal alien, she concludes; she recounts the full confrontation in detail. (I hate to tell her she'd encounter the same attitude her my local Brooklyn, NY Italian bakery if she did the same thing...) "My closest friends suddenly start closing in on me", she writes.

She insists that this isn't just about her, because she is called honey back in the United States by the bus drivers, etcetera, that she encounters. But someone with such a large chip on their shoulder as to fill 240 plus pages of a book with examples of the evil actions of the Brits vis-a-vis their American cousins undoubtedly is sending off hostile vibes of some kind. Certainly, they radiated from the book.

I could go through this, chapter by chapter, pointing out the problems that arise when someone attempts to reason from the particular and the personal to the general; noting that the Margaret Drabbles and Harold Pinters of the world aren't any more representative of the British populace than are the George Bushes that so outrage many Europeans typical of Americans. (And yes, Europeans have a right to their opinions and to voice those opinions; certainly we exercise our view to call them 'weasels' when they don't agree with us and to shape our own foreign policy to suit our own ends. They just don't have the right to insist that we share them, a distinction that seems lost on Gould.)

What bewilders me most, however, is that she seems unaware of some of the reasons Europeans might have for worrying about a unilateralist United States in a unipolar world. This is not new -- she was living in the UK at the time of the Greenham Common protest, for heaven's sake. She doesn't have to share those fears, but Europeans have experienced directly in a way that we in America still have not (9/11 notwithstanding) the dangers of triumphant and self-righteous nationalism, and to fail to grasp the foreign policy issues and concerns that underlie public policy and affect some of the rhetoric on issues like global warming.

Since Gould tells us over and over her qualifications for writing this book are her experiences living as an American expat for that many years, I'll establish my own as a reviewer by noting that I've lived precisely the same number years as an expat in England, Belgium, Canada and Japan. Based on that, I can only conclude that for a professional expat, Gould has a mighty thin skin. In Japan, all 'gaijin', or foreigners, are at one point or another treated like slightly idiotic children. I was called a 'colonial' in London once, and told to go back to America; my Indian-British friend, in contrast, was spat on and called a 'Paki'. It's narrow-mindedness that is the problem -- in England as anywhere else in the world. I've been to the same kinds of events and places that Gould has -- including cafes on Edgware Road -- and not had the same kind of experiences, to put it mildly. I merrily waved my US flag at the Last Night of the Proms in 2006 with no problem or hostility whatsoever (but Gould is shouted at twice and told to put her flag away?) Gould ridicules the young people who use words like 'innit' (instead of isn't it) to punctuate their speech in London; the dialogue outside my front window day-in, day-out is just as illiterate and far more vulgar. Gould dislikes being patronized -- "you haven't lost your accent, then?" -- but long-resident Brits in New York have an equal dislike for being told "you have such a cute accent." Preconceptions run both ways, something to which Gould appears to be completely oblivious.

Of course, anti-Americanism exists. It is what happens when there is one country capable of having a disproportionate impact on all the other countries with which it interacts. And of course any American has encountered the same kind of preconceptions traveling overseas that Europeans encounter here. (She expresses bemusement that Europeans don't always know where Philadelphia is; ask an American to pin Paris or London on a map of Europe...) The reason I purchased this book in the first place was in the hope and mistaken belief that it might offer some better insights in how to lead those discussions into productive channels, or a thoughtful survey of why America triggers this response. (In a nutshell, Gould's analysis is the old standby that they're all jealous.)

A better title for this book might have been "A personal chronicle of my one-woman crusade to end anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism among the chattering classes of London." It reads like something that a very angry and bitter woman might write about her marriage after her husband of 32 years strolls off with another woman. For a glimpse of what it's possible to accomplish on a similar theme, check out Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of Its Enemies, a very thoughtful and well-written analysis of many of the same issues. If you want something more polemical, turn to Oriana Fallaci (whose existence and opinions would seem, prima facie, to undermine Gould's arguments.)The Rage and The Pride is translated by Fallaci herself, and as such reads somewhat unevenly. Nonetheless, although it's equally provocative, it has the merit of being well structured and reasoned, in comparison. Fallaci reasons; Gould emotes.

This might have made a very interesting magazine article, or even a slim 60 page book (along the lines of Amos Oz's remarkable How to Cure a Fanatic, had a strong editor imposed some focus and some kind of narrative structure to this random collection of chapters ("Dear Archbishop of Canterbury -- Why I Still Adore America", "Mayfair Bans America -- Now and Forever" ). I find many of incidents (the public ones) as disturbing as Gould does, but fail to see how this kind of screed serves any useful purpose. In many ways, I should have been her ideal reader. Instead, I'm horrified, by the book and by Gould's conviction that America should just be prepared to go it alone. She may be able to escape from the evil Brits and return home to isolate herself from anything she doesn't like. But that isn't the way to deal with conflict, and going it alone is one option that no nation has in the 21st century. This could have and should have been a deeply disturbing book, pointing out how anti-Americanism rises and is fueled. It could have been constructive, identifying ways to tackle and work effectively with Europeans in the face of narrow and parochial concerns on both sides. Instead, it's disturbing for all the wrong reasons.

1.5 stars; only rounded up because it at least opens the debate. My copy of this book goes straight into the garbage, however.
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