Monday, November 8, 2004
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November's books of the month
The international relations book is Cowboy Capitalism: European Myths about the American Reality by Olaf Gersemann, the Washington correspondent for Wirtschaftswoche, a German economics and business weekly. In the book, Gersemann runs through the litany of European stereotypes about inner workings of the American economy ("Americans work three jobs just to make ends meet;" "Unemployment is low only because so many people are in jail") and sees if the data matches up with the stereotype. Nine times out of ten it doesn't -- and even on the tenth time, there's no evidence that the American variety of capitalism is the proximate or underlying cause for the observed outcome. Go check it out.
The general interest book is The Best American Political Writing 2004, edited by Royce Flippin. The title is a bit deceptive -- it's really the best political writing from June 2003 to June 2004. [Cough!--ed.] However, post-election, it's a useful primer on the rhetorical state of play during the primary and general election seasons. [Cough! Cough!--ed.] In terms of ideological diversity, the forty-eight selections range from Pat Buchanan to Katha Pollitt.
[Ahem -- I said, COUGH, dammit!!!!--ed.] Oh, yes, -- by some error in someone's judgment, this TNR Online essay of mine from April 2004 made the cut. Even more surprisingly, it holds up pretty well post-election.posted by Dan on 11.08.04 at 04:52 PM
1. Enjoy your site, visit it regularly (alternate between Sullivan's, yours and wonkette -- don't ask me why)
2. Is there a comparable "Ten American Myths about Europe" (economy, etc) out there? If there isn't, there should be, based on my past experience as a Canadian grad student in the U.S. (I suppose one could try to write one on U.S. myths about the Canadian economy, but it would short).
ABD at GW, now teaching IR in Canadaposted by: Michael M on 11.08.04 at 04:52 PM [permalink]
You know, it's a good thing you elaborated on what all that coughing was about. For a second, I thought you were blogging from the middle of a prostate exam.
Thank you folks, you've beena great audience. I'll be here all week.posted by: Independent George on 11.08.04 at 04:52 PM [permalink]
Yeah, your article in the "Best Political Writing" book holds up well. But when I read the blog entry, I have to admit that I have the same reaction to those college classes where a professor had us buy some book he contributed to.
Anyway. Have you read "The European Dream" by Jeremy Rifkin? I haven't yet, but it received a favorable review in Foreign Affairs, where it was presented as an antidote to Kagan's (which Kagan? Well, they're all the same, aren't they?) too-clever-by-half Mars/Venus thing. I'm curious about it in contrast to "Cowboy Capitalism".posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.08.04 at 04:52 PM [permalink]
The only American myths about Canada that I can think of offhand are that it is a nominal democracy but an actual one party state at the federal level; that Canadians want an international role they are not willing to pay for; and that Canadians devote considerable effort to the job of not offending Quebecers.
Who knows how these myths get started?posted by: Zathras on 11.08.04 at 04:52 PM [permalink]
I'll second Michael M. There certainly should be a book like "Socialism and Secularism. Ten American Myths about Europe". OTOH, there also should be books about American myths about America ("Moral values, Freedom and Justice for All"), and books about European myths about Europe ("No, we are not at all the wimps the Americans say we are").
As for the Jeremy Rifkin book, it seems like most European rewievs I've seen think he is a little bit too idealistic and optimistic about the European economic future. Still, he knows a heck of a lot more about his subject than those churning out their "Mars and Venus" baloney.posted by: Oscar on 11.08.04 at 04:52 PM [permalink]
Here's a new book by former Wa Post London correspondent TR Reid: The United States Of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy
Quite bullish on Europe (fast trains, beautiful cities and landscapes, mature cultural attitudes -well, with the exception of anti-americanism-, consensual politics, etc ... ). Breezy and entertaining as well.
nice way to get in some self promotion.posted by: austin mls on 11.08.04 at 04:52 PM [permalink]
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