"Written in a breezy, engaging and often humorous style, Webb's smartly reported book reveals him to be curious, thorough and generous of spirit... A book full of insight and heart."
-- Sarah Lyall, The Daily Mail
"If you want to know what makes Americans tick, read this book. Webb knows America - and it shows." -- John Humphreys
"This is not a dry sociological account but a passionate defence of a way of life... Webb is good at shedding light on our ambivalent and contradictory relationship with American power and culture."
-- The Sunday Times
"With his forensic examination of America, and more importantly of Americans, Justin Webb represents 21st-century proof that no-one understands the world so adroitly as the Englishman abroad." -- Simon Calder, Travel Editor, The Independent
From the Publisher
With those words the BBC North America Editor Justin Webb asks us to reconsider our view of the United States.
He begins in Bath where he was brought up and where his late mother Gloria Webb was a prominent member of the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. Justin's mother was politically active and used to take him on protests with her friends. He writes,
"They were good people, thoughtful and peaceful. But as I grew older I began to notice something rather odd about their pet causes. Their heartfelt protests against nuclear weapons, for instance, concentrated on American warheads, not the Soviet missiles in those days pointed directly at us. When they campaigned against war, it was American led war they abhorred. Against executions? In Texas of course ...... In other words the anti-American mindset was alive and well long before the current president stoked its engine. Why? Where does anti-Americanism come from? Is it about what America does or what America is? And if it is the latter, is the dislike based on real knowledge, or on misunderstanding?"
To find out, Justin takes us on a journey which begins in Bath but leads to some of the wellsprings of anti-Americanism, ancient and modern: France Egypt and Venezuela. We turn then to America; to the creationist museum in Kentucky, to the mountains of West Virginia, to the largely Latino city of San Antonio in Texas, to the living rooms of the gentle political junkies of Iowa, and to the vexed and hugely significant question, "who is The (modern) Virginian."
The result is a friendly argument with anti-Americanism and an affectionate though critical portrait of a nation that demands of the world, Have a Nice Day! --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.