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The Privileged View From Washington DC
on 16 June 2016
Stephanie Faul lives in Washington DC (according to the biog), and her perspective is very much someone of that environment, with the best bits of the book being about politics, law and business. It's very privileged white-collar sort of humour, told in a light and breezy manner - nothing wrong with that, but when my husband was working in the USA, what jumped out for him was how close to the breadline most of the people he met were. That is completely missing from this book, along with anything blue-collar or connected with ordinary people in general. Too inconvenient to be acknowledged. Maybe it's because in American culture, losers don't count.
Taking the book for what it is, it is a fun read. Ms Faul gives a lavish description of what goes into a Thanksgiving dinner (what on earth is jellied salad and Indian pudding?), details how people check out their host's medicine cupboards, has lots of fun with mad lawsuits, and laments the American worship of sport, celebrity, shopping and philistinism in general. And reinforces again and again that to an American, everything is a competition, and everybody has to play to win. Yes, I know from personal experience, and it's exhausting!
Regional differences are completely ignored, which is surprising for a country that covers five time zones. I will read "Xenophobe's Guide To The Californians", and if the publishers could put out some more regional guides for the States - so we've got a better idea of who is on the other end of the phone in the middle of the night - that would be greatly appreciated.