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on 12 September 2013
Mildly entertaining in places, but not Eagleton at his best - and at times the book drifts into unsophisticated condescension, obtuse put downs and dreary cliche. Several themes in the book were in need of much fuller development - the relationship between Puritan Christianity and the American mind is mentioned repeatedly but never interestingly explored, generalisations about Americans were frequently (to this reader) unjustified. The book does little really to explain the seductions of the consumer culture America (and the rest of the world increasingly) adores. The author, rather, looks askance in baffled unease at the world advanced (US style) capitalism is making and has made. There is something strange and forced, though, about the remove Eagleton assumes when talking about the USA - it's almost as though he imagines a UK which, until recently, had been entirely untouched by the tentacles of American culture and economics - and wishes things were more like they were in his youth. But this rhetorical posture - if it is such - fails to convince. Worth a read, perhaps, but Eagleton is on better form elsewhere.
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on 20 September 2013
I had high expectations concerning Eagleton's bookon the US but came away disappointed. The jokes are pretty lame, the observations are often not generalisable and the Irish bias is very strong. Some parts are better than others but it is a little like Eagleton would not have put his heart on this book... And the comparisons with the UK/Ireland are not terribly interesting or sharp. Sorry to say, besause I am normally a big fan of Eagleton's (except about his opinions on Dawkins!)
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on 12 July 2015
As an intercultural trainer, I enjoy reading witty and entertaining books about different cultures and their perceptions of each other. Brits and Americans is always a topic with a lot to offer and so I was looking forward to this book. I was to be sorely disappointed.
The author tries very, very hard to be funny. Unfortunately, he usually doesn't succeed but is just plain silly. If he occasionally manages to write something that is somewhat witty, he destroys it right again by reiterating the joke over and over. Actually, he does a lot of reiterating in general. Most of the book is the author using the same three to four boring stereotypes and rambling on about them in a very unstructured way. Was that really all he could find to say about Brits and Americans?

Many of the things written in this book are not even accurate. It's hard to believe that Terry Eagleton really lived in the US because almost everything he writes about the Americans sounds as if he got it from a bad sitcom of the 70s. There are a few good observations about both Americans and Brits that show the potential of the book, but they are quickly drowned in unsuccessful attempts to be humourous and the employment of clichés.

So, I found this book to be neither informative nor entertaining. I often recommend books about different cultures to my clients, but this one I would only recommend as an example of how to use old stereotypes in the most unimaginative way possible.
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'In a society where everyone is special, being special would seem to be nothing special.' How he loves to provoke, our Terry, and here he's having a ball. Though the eminent don of a dozen universities should know that DE Tocqueville is a solecism of the first water (we do not speak of De La Fontaine, De Montaigne or De Sade, or at least I hope not) and to mock the American tendency to say 'the 1800s' rather than 'the 19th century' is grossly unfair, since Italians have always done so without any noticeable loss of sprezzatura. I look forward to encountering more such unfairness in this little sugar-plum of a book
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