Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World

Suzy Hansen. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-0-374-28004-8
After moving to Turkey in 2007, American journalist Hansen, who writes for the New York Times Magazine, came to the startling realization that America seen from abroad is a wholly different entity from the America she knew. Hansen explores her own loss of innocence, as her belief in American grandiosity, exceptionalism, and humanitarianism is deeply shaken by the destruction wrought by the U.S. in the Middle East. The first chapters describe Hansen’s encounters with Turkish nationalism and her painful acquaintance with a new view of her country’s history. Subsequent chapters explore the ways American interventions have spread wars, propped up dictators, destroyed landscapes in the name of modernization, and spurred the rise of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the Middle and Near East. Lucid, reflective, probing, and poetic, Hansen’s book is also a searing critique of the ugly depths of American ignorance, made more dangerous because the declining U.S. imperial system coincides with decay at home. The book is a revelatory indictment of American policy both domestic and foreign, made gripping by Hansen’s confident—if overreaching—distillation of complicated historical processes and her detailed, evocative descriptions of places, people, and experiences most American audiences can’t imagine. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/08/2017
Release date: 08/15/2017
Compact Disc - 978-1-68168-684-4
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