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Only in America Hardcover – 19 May 2008

3.8 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; 1st Edition edition (19 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000724892X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007248926
  • Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 3.4 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 787,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘Lucid and entertaining.’ Metro

‘There’s much of interest here.’ London Lite

‘A first class guide to US politics in general, and Washington DC in particular.’ Daily Mail

‘An excellent, quirky guide to Washington life…it is also a memoir of America in the post 9/11 Dubya years…Frei has a felicitous turn of phrase and his observations are always insightful and sometime extremely funny’ Sunday Express

About the Author

Matt Frei has been the BBC's Washington correspondent since 2002. Prior to that he was the BBC's Asia correspondent based in Singapore and Hong Kong – taking up his post just before the handover to China. From 1992 to 1996 he was BBC Southern Europe correspondent in Rome. He has witnessed many dramatic events including the fall of Berlin Wall and reported on the intifada and the Gulf War as the London foreign affairs correspondent.

Matt has won several awards including the Amnesty International Asia Award in 1997 and 1998 for his reports on Vietnam and Indonesia and a Royal Television Society International News Award for his reports of turmoil in East Timor.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Matt Frei brings life in Washington and other parts of the States alive in this excellent, entertaining book. Well-written, with a journalist's eye for the absurd and the unusual, Frei conveys useful and interesting insights into American political life, whilst retaining the amused, slightly aloof nature of an outsider. The book is the better for that stance in my opinion.

Frei's reporting of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans landed him in hot water in some quarters, so he's not above being controversial and challenging when the siutation arises. For anyone who enjoys Matt Frei's informed, intelligent reporting, this book will not disapppoint.
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Format: Paperback
Only in America offers a Washington-centred view of American life and politics covering the period of the George W. Bush presidency (the book concludes just before the election of Obama). The author's views are not merely those of a professional journalist, but of a family man who has the opportunity to reside in the country long enough to obtain more than a snapshot view.

The book is valuable in two ways. It offers a corrective to British readers who may have formed the view that the United States is essentially Britain writ larger. In addition, it gives an insight into how things have changed since 9/11. Frei devotes a chapter to each of several subjects, from think-tanks to obesity, teasing out some of the implications of each for what it means to be American in the 21st century.

As one might expect, the book reads easily - although I didn't find it as amusing as some other reviewers have suggested. Its main fault is a certain lightness and an unwillingness to judge too harshly which deprives the book of any real critical force. It's one of those instances in which BBC-bred values of objectivity and fairness don't necessarily serve the reader well. The book also appears to have been very lightly edited: there are mistakes throughout, including howlers: the contention that the US has a fifth of the world's population; "Cubic Bay" for "Subic Bay"; and many others, all of which lend a hasty air to the whole.

On balance, worth a quick read, but not revelatory.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have always liked Matt Frei's reporting on the BBC where he comes across as knowledgeable about US politics but at the same time makes his reports entertaining & accessible. The book retains the 'feel' of his broadcasts. It isn't a deep analysis of US political life but is ideally suited to the casual reader.

The book was largely written before Obama came to power and so, apart from a few comments about the run up to the 2008 election, together with a brief introductory chapter written just after Obama's victory, there is no discussion of the Obama presidency even in its earliest days. There is discussion of some of the defining issues of the presidency of George W Bush and contemporary American politics. I found the brief description of an interview with a disillusioned former member of the Bush White House both interesting and sad. The chapter covering Hurricane Katrina succinctly demonstrates the incompetence of the Bush administration.

The book is perhaps most interesting when it describes non-political life, whether this be matters close to his home & heart (finding a home, his children's schools) or wider matters such as religion in America where Frei takes a different tack from the norm, looking at a California mega-church.

Although in some senses this book is now 'out-dated' after the election of the new administration, much of the commentary is timely. Watching a news broadcast a week or so ago I was reminded strongly of Frei's description of the issue of illegal immigration from South America.
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Format: Paperback
As a big fan of the highly acclaimed series 'The West Wing', I was tempted into purchasing a copy of Matt Frei's book. Despite loving 'The West Wing' (surely one of the best drama series ever made) I find a lot of the politics incomprehensible, and thought this book might illuminate me. Did it? Well, yes and no. Mr Frei does take you into the rarefied atmosphere of the power centre of the U.S., but does not get into the actual mechanics of how things work. And perhaps that is no bad thing. What he does do is manage to weave an interesting, compelling and times very funny tale about real life in Washington DC and the White House. It's easy to poke fun at the insular nature of Americans, and how little they seem to understand or care about life outside their borders. But how many of us know much about what really happens in the seat of power of our American allies? This book does shine a light on this, in an entertaining and easy read. And for that, I commend it to the house!
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Format: Paperback
For a lot of people, politics can seem a very dry subject, and for a lot of Europeans, American politics can seem nothing short of baffling. In ONLY IN AMERICA, Matt Frei seems to have achieved the impossible and written an entertaining book about American politics from a uniquely British perspective. His experiences of the trials and tribulations of life as an overseas correspondent living within Washington's infamous beltway is never dry, often insightful and sometimes very amusing. His insights into the mood of that nation during the tail end of the George W Bush Presidency are very revealing, as are his comments on the phenomenon of the rise of Barack Obama, but it is in the small stories of becoming part of the community in which he comes to live that the real heart of the book lies, and, as such, this is a refreshing look at American life lived on the outskirts of a city that lives and breathes on the political life of a nation. I thought it was a great read.
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