on 25 August 2010
Don Watson, an Australian academic historian and advisor to Prime Minister Paul Keating, wrote his best selling biography of Keating's premiership when it was over. Then he travelled throughout the USA by train and hire car, with the express purpose of seeing the 'real USA', especially the blue collar workers on Main St, rather than the white collar guys on Wall Street. It is an eye opener.
It is beautifully written, a real page turner, and he pulls no punches about the backwardness of much of the american hinterland, the bigotry that still carries over from the Civil war, the endemic poverty, the racial prejudice and the paranoia about anything even remotely tinged with collectivism. Paradoxically America congregates in the myriad churches, religion is apparently fervently ubiquitous.
The author is admiring of many aspects of America and Americans, the generosity, the total belief in freedom (even when that allows the freedom to be unemployed and broke in the world's richest country); the freedom to wait for hours in the freezing cold for the Amtrak train that can be days late. His admiration is sincere and well meant, but he tells it like it is - 'warts and all'. I loved the book, but I have reservations (no pun) about America.