6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2003
The question: 'Why do people hate America?' arose out of the dust and ashes of the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. But this question became a statement and a focus for retaliation, rather than the starting point for a serious investigation into the real issues surrounding global hatred and terrorism.
Fortunately, Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies have provided for us a powerful and challenging book which reflects a serious study of the many reasons behind this question. This is an important book for the present time and because it is written for a wide audience has the potential to really open up the debate concerning the numerous effects of what they refer to succinctly as the 'American Way', on communities around the world. In particular the rigid adherence to the economic 'growth' model is considered, and America's control of the institutions of globalisation, such as the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the IMF, which stand above all other considerations as the main cause of global hatred of the American Way, if not (thankfully) of the American people themselves, many of whom are by now just as appalled by (and powerless to redirect) the actions of their own government and institutions.
Then entrenched self-obsession of America, that its culture and value systems are 'simply the best: the last best hope for humanity', is perhaps the most powerful understanding that comes across over and over again through the pages of this book, as we are shown clearly how what used to be a 'super power' has now become a 'hyper power', dominating the whole world. This absolute faith in themselves and the American Way is promoted, entrenched, fought for and defended with no concern for evaluation. The reader experiences a great deal of empathy for those 'others' on the receiving end of the destructive outcomes of the whole process, leading to a good understanding of why many people hate what America stands for.
The authors concentrate on four main themes. Through film and TV we are introduced into a method of presenting American ideas, such as 'The West Wing', a soap opera based on a fictional depiction of the White House, which was used to discuss the 9-11 attack and which presented the reasons as the resurrection of the historical 'clash of civilisations', an extreme oversimplification of the real truth. The influences of European colonial history and American history and culture are also described. Politics and war are discussed and a full list of the 133 wars and military interventions which America has been party to over the last century or so is provided by way of illustrating their global control of political systems. But perhaps most importatly the economic system (globalisation) is considered, and its destructive effect on communities and cultures around the world, particularly in 'developing' countries. The main beneficiaries of which, we are informed, are American consumers.
'Why do people hate America?' introduces us to the importance of all these issues and deserves to be well read, but whether people will want to know the truth is another matter.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2002
Some very good chapters, but the comparision with cowboy films becomes a little over-used, if not slightly tenuous. If you enjoyed this then I recommend Chomsky's "Rogue States", which is a slightly more academic book on the same subject. Chomsky is certainly not as readable as Why Do People Hate America? but seems more complete. It (Rogue States) doesn't always spell out the conclusions but does provide a wealth of examples of the type that are also used in this book.
Certainly food for thought. Even if you don't agree with the ideas and believe that the US policy cannot be held responsible for anti-US sentiments, it's worth reading to see why it is that some people do believe this.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 7 September 2003
...unless you define "America bashing" as any anthropological attempt to understand America as such. As the sayin goes: The truth may set you free, but first it'll piss you off. This book was required reading for a course I am taking on American Studies, and I fully enjoyed reading it. It presents something for people on both sides of the Atlantic. For Americans it gives them an insight into how others may view them, and for Europeans and other foreign nationalities it provides a window into what shaped the popular culture and attitudes of the US. For being a bridge of understanding I'm giving this book 5 stars.
That being said - it should be noted that both these eloquent authors have anthropological backgrounds, and as such tend to boil the question/title of the book down to anthropological answers. That may have worked if American were a democracy, and the populace shaped by this popular culture actually ruled. America is not, and Americans do not. As in Europe and the rest of the world, the US is a Representative Democracy, meaning the people hand over their will to an elect group every four years or so. This elect group (gov't) are the ones who make the foreign policy and carry out the decisions and action which are the prime reason Americans are "hated" by some. That this elect group also suffers from 'knowledgeable ignorance' (which the authors diagnose Americans with), this book has not managed to convince me. The premise that world sentiment 'against' the US has it's roots in prevalent public attitudes within the US, is the only short comming to this book, in my opinion. But regardless of whether it fully accomplishes to answer the title question, the anthropological studies within should be, as others have said, 'required reading'.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2002
I found this book browsing in a bookshop and was instantly caught by the narrative. It makes no bones about being heavily one-sided and defends America very infrequently, but it's scope is scholarly and its arguements delivered by and large very well.
Despite its political and philosophical content, it is also highly readable. I think it is difficult to discount as a piece of anti-US propaganda as it eloquently disects everything from US TV and media concerns stifling normal debate within the US to the heavy handedness and undemocratic nature of US foreign policy.
Truly enlightening, and I am sure it should be read by every American and for that matter European, as much of the subject matter applies to many former colonial countries too.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 2002
This book is amazing. I bought it to try to understand why September 11th happened, to understand the reasons for Muslim anger at the US and to know more about the US involvement with the Israeli situation. I now know more than I may have wanted. Why Do People hate America uses recent and past history, cultural studies including analysis of film and TV and American and other commentary to show why the rest of the world is becoming exasperated with the US to the point of hatred. From small farmers with livelihoods ruined in the name of free trade to cultures watching their young people adopting attitudes drawn from Hollywood, the writers of this book list reasons why hatred of the US has grown. At no time do they condone violence or write in support of anyone promoting violence; however, they have no message of hope to offer to anyone hoping that the status quo will endure.
Read this book if you like to be challenged, if you like to think and if you know there is more to what is going on in the world than what you read in most papers.
52 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2004
People seem to be getting their knickers in a knot about this book being polemic but the facts remain that many people DO hate America. In many very fundamental ways this IS as a result of US foreign policy and the way in which the cultural artefacts (ie movies, music) that they export reinforce an often offensive image of 'white is right' and 'might is right'.
Professors Sardar and Davies are highly educated individuals who are underlining the way in which American culture CAN BE and IS interpreted by the outside world. This does not mean THEY hate America. It means they are able to recognise areas in which America let's itself down in the eyes of the world.
I have read blogs from US soldiers in Iraq saying that they read the book to remind themselves how 'outsiders' view them, to understand what has gone wrong and why America seems so loathed. Noam Chomsky himself has recommended American's read this book to see how the world perceives them. It is the blindness of the American superstate to opinions like those articulated by Sardar and Davies that causes them to continue blithely exporting the wrong message around the globe.
This is an important book precisely because it is polemic. The American culture machine roles out polemic material every day. Hatred is what breeds in retaliation.
Please do not continue to portray this book as 'Why People SHOULD Hate America'. The purpose of this book is to hold up a mirror to the flaws of the US. After September 11 many people did ask 'Why Do People Hate America?' Sardar and Davies are simply trying to offer a possible answer...
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 13 December 2005
Written in response to the events of September 11th, this is a fascinating and deep exploration of America's position in the world today. It is worth re-reading several times to digest all the points made. How does America see other nations and cultures? How do they see America? How does America see itself? With an academic slant (due to the background of the authors), the origins and context of contemporary American political, economic and cultural power are examined.
Chapters 5 and 6 explore the founding myths and narratives of America. The American hero has always been a man with a gun. The taming or removal of "primitive" Native Americans can be seen as the start of America's modern foreign policy. In the last chapter, four main objections to America are suggested e.g. "The US has simply made it too difficult for other people to exist". America alone defines democracy, justice, freedom, terrorism, fundamentalism, "In short, what it means to be human". The authors call on America to look critically at itself and its position in relation to the rest of the world. As many visitors to the US have experienced first hand, Americans are almost totally insulated from non-American cultures.
This book is not about simplistic judgements or condemnations, the authors quote many Americans who of course express great vision and compassion. The issues are complex. The problems between America and the rest of the world are essentially the same as within America itself, and to some extent the whole of the developed world which continues a love-hate relationship with many things American.
"Why Do People Hate America?" is potentially a very important book for our times. "The key to a viable and sane future for us all lies in transcending hatred". In the words of English songwriter Morrissey, "America, your head's too big... I love you".
on 19 October 2012
A very interesting, and depending on your viewpoint, a very challenging book. As the title implies, it is an attempt to answer the question why people hate America (the USA). It is best read as the authors' intend, as an answer veryspecifically to that question. The various chapters enumerate the various reasons for that hatred, helpfully summarizing them all at the end. What this book is not is particularly effective in examining whether in any individual case that hatred is justified., but as long as it is borne in mind that it is not the primary purpose of the book, all is well. Readers tempted to use it as ammunition in this way are likely to come unstuck - some parts of the potted history of the USA and 'the West' are pretty one-sided and distorted: the summary of the Early Medieval period up to the Crusades is a shocker if viewed as dispassionate history. Taken as a summary of what some people believe, they work fine.
It isn't always clear when the authors are communicating a reason that they think America is an object of hatred if they agree with or not. Perhaps this is a good thing.
The writing is excellent, the authors adept at summarizing the 'whys' in a simple way, avoiding most of the jargon that can make writing against American political power and culture somewhat dense and difficult.
There is a short 'what can/should be done' chapter at the end. Personally I found this extremely weak, and contained this cracker: "Since America is both the object and source of global hatred, it must carry the reponsibility of moving us all beyond it". I find this mind-boggling, as the authors have spent the previous 200-odd pages saying that US exceptionalism is a major cause of the hatred...
So, perhaps paradoxically, the book might be best read by those who would be made uncomfortable by the criticism; whereas those familiar with the 'standard' left-wing criticisms from Chomsky/Hari, Fisk, Pilger, Monbiot et al will probably find little essentialy new.
The big question asked in this book should be written as follows: Will the tiny elite which controls the actual sole hyperpower in the world, change?
The hard-hitting answers of the authors on the domestic, military, economic, political and financial front are anything but negative.
For the authors, it is `a conscious State policy' that the US media conglomerates should not inform the US population about the non-US world. They air nearly only pure political and commercial propaganda. But, for the authors, the US can only change direction, if `ordinary Americans take a new level of responsibility and accountability for how they think about themselves and what they know about the rest of the world.'
International political and military policies
For the authors, the US government with its cynical policy of `might is right' lost its `moral authority'. `While it sells democracy to the rest of the world, it is in fact deeply undemocratic and intolerant against any State that disagrees with its policies. Authoritarian countries whose leaders are tyrants who trample on human rights are called friends and allies. The US government attacked illegally sovereign States (Vietnam, Iraq, Grenada!). Through NATO it continues to surround the Russian Federation with nuclear warheads.
Financial and economic policies
The US oligarchy finances domestic growth by printing `free money'.
Internationally, it dumps under the banner of `free trade' its subsidized agricultural products in third world countries forcing local farmers out of business. But, `the security of the world's food production should not be in the hands of a handful of conglomerates, but in the hands of local farmers.'
Through the authoritarian and undemocratic IMF and WTO institutions and under the banner of `trade liberalization', the US government forced the opening of national industries to foreign ownership.
The scandal of property rights
US companies have now firmly set their eyes on the last remaining resources of developing countries: claiming property rights on its flora, fauna, biodiversity and even on the DNA of indigenous people. `Amazonian Indian blood cells are for sale on the internet.'
A new hyperpower (with an old foe as ally) lurks at the horizon, China (and Russia). China doesn't come with `the disastrous baggage of the West: colonial domination, dollar diplomacy and endemic poverty.' `Its record on human rights leaves much to be desired, but the US government created, installed, sponsored and supported tyrants and dictators.'
The US government is perceived as having declared war on the non-European world including the poorest, the weakest and the most disadvantaged. It forgot that it protected itself its national industries for decennia. It is seen `as only understanding dominance, the road it has traveled consistently.'
Its only answer for major global problems, like climate change, arms control, biodiversity, poverty eradication seems to be the slogan `free trade'.
This strikingly forceful diatribe is a must read for all those who want to understand the world we live in.
Many of the themes discussed in this book are more developed in the works of J. Stiglitz, N. Klein, F. W. Engdahl, W. Bello, M. Chossudovsky, N. M. Ahmed or S. Kinzer.
42 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2002
"Why do people hate America?" is a well written book that looks carefully at the question posed by its title.
The book is easy to get into, and can be read by both the casual reader and the academic without losing either audience. Each argument is carefully backed up by facts culled from a variety of sources. The book leads towards the conclusion that America is disliked not, as it likes to think, because it is successful, but rather due to it's double standards.
Whilst I will admit that I personally agreed with much of the authors' arguments, and actually found myself growing angry at many of the injustices listed in the book, I am aware that many potential readers may not share my views. The book looks at the question from every view point, from the far right to far left, the media and the US government's apparent understanding of the question. Whilst you may not agree with the conclusions drawn, ANYONE interested in the subject MUST read this book if only to understand what they disagree with. If you are a resident of the United States, that last statement is even more true.
I'm going away to read it again now.