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America Against the World: How We Are Different and Why We Are Disliked Paperback – May 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It has become a media axiom that anti-Americanism is on the rise around the world, and though the foreign policies of George W. Bush are often cited as a motivating factor, it seems reasonable that there must be more to the animosity than one president's actions. Kohut, the director of the Pew Research Center, teams up with NPR commentator Stokes to present the results of an extensive Pew survey that polled more than 91,000 people in 50 nations to come up with an explanation that, when you strip away the extensive charts and tables, boils down to this: they hate us because we're different. But, Kohut and Stokes suggest, we're also misunderstood. People in other nations believe that America's unilateralism is motivated by hyperintense nationalism and religiosity, but polling data suggests most Americans don't feel that way—far from wanting to create a global empire, they're not even enthusiastic about bringing democracy to other nations. Though detailed, the survey results contain few real surprises, and the approach, which borders on wonkish, may have trouble finding its way to a general audience. (May 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* More than 70 percent of non-Americans think the world would be better off if there were another superpower to keep the U.S. in check. The Pew Research Center lends its reputation for nonpartisanship to the largest survey of world opinion aimed at learning why Americans have become so disliked abroad. Pew director Kohut and international economist Stokes examine the opinions of 91,000 respondents in 50 nations to explore the image change of the U.S. from champion of freedom and land of opportunity to world bully and exploiter. Kohut and Stokes examine the notion of American exceptionalism that has dominated world opinion since Alexis de Tocqueville and more current concerns about President Bush's unilateral approach in the war on terrorism since 9/11. They explore differences in American values versus those of other nations, how globalization affects concerns about the effect of American culture and policy on other nations, and what growing worldwide disapproval and even fear of the U.S. holds for the future. Not merely a dry, statistical account but a fascinating--and troubling--look at how the rest of the world views us. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805083057
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805083057
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By George Bush HALL OF FAME on May 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
We cannot be secure without the respect and understanding of others. One approach to falling support for America is to see the problem as a giant misunderstanding ("if they only knew we are generally religious, love our children, and have high-minded goals"), and another is to blame the global media for distorting and misreporting news about the U.S. A third approach, much more likely to lead to improvement, is based on objective analyses of what caused people overseas to form the positions that they have, and to ask what it might take to soften them. The Pew Research Center undertook a series of global opinion surveys from '02-'05 involving 91,000+ people in 50 nations to discover how the world views America and its people.

Allied nations, post Cold-War, now feel able to act independently of U.S. wishes. One startling conclusion is that over 70% of non-Americans believe the world would be improved if the U.S. faced a rival military power. Bush's early policy decisions (eg. backing away from the Kyoto treaty, other unilateral approaches) were unpopular abroad prior to 9/11. His re-election in '04 broadened dislike of American policies (already at a low point due to the Iraq invasion) to include Americans themselves.

Another interesting finding was that the proportion of religious belief in America (about 94%) is much higher than in Europe (eg. 50% in Germany), and closer to that in the Middle East. A related finding is that white evangelicals (ESPECIALLY conservatives) are much more pro-Israel than Americans as a whole!)

Other findings about Americans include the result that only about 1 in 4 Americans felt increased trade has been very good for the U.S. and/or themselves, though other studies in the book have reported much more positive findings. However, its report that most Americans are supportive of immigration from Mexico is STRONGLY at odds with most other reports. Thus, one starts to wonder how accurate polling is overall.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on November 18, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be politically neutral. And I found the numerous tables, charts, and graphs fascinating. Sure, there may be some errors in the way the polls were taken (as well as in the choices of questions to ask). But Andrew Kohut and Bruce Stokes at least made an attempt to find out what people think of us. We see discussions of attitudes about religion in America, attitudes about terror, attitudes about the United Nations, nationalism, exceptionalism, and meddling in the affairs of others. And we see how those in other nations claim to feel about some of the same issues.

The authors say that anti-Americanism has grown in the past few years, especially in France. That may well be true. In addition, when they discuss American nationalism, they make an interesting point: our nationalism is not much like the whining "let's-get-even" style that some folks use to respond to "humiliation." In that sense, I think it is reasonable and fair to see it as relatively benign. I also think there is a good discussion of American values and American love of freedom and independence.

I recommend this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on August 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
The title is quite misleading, because this analysis of world opinion surveys shows relatively small differences in attitudes between Americans and people in most other countries. The book sets out ambitiously, asking tough questions on the reasons behind a serious decline in respect for the United States over most of the planet. Building on the new wealth of world opinion polling data, it offers a solid data-based analysis of the problem. Much of it involves detailed comparison of these surveys, done in a carefully non-partisan, social science manner. It becomes mainly a quantitative comparison of differences, which are not really that big.

In the background Kohut and Stokes also discuss qualitative differences, but this requires citing opinions of individual people. And though these personal views are the least scientific, they are also the most thought-provoking parts of the book. Perhaps most of the opinions cited concern America's internal debate over primary values, and probably this is the most relevant thing of all. For example, former U.S. ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy claims, "The American system of checks and balances is predicated on the notion that power is corrupting. And the same principle is viable in the international community. Being the sole superpower is a dangerous position for the United States to be in".
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Format: Hardcover
If you have ever wondered why millions of people around the planet seem to dislike the United States so intensely then "America Against the World" is certainly a pretty good place to start your research. Co-authors Andrew Kohut, Director of the Pew Research Center for People and the Press and Bruce Stokes, international economist for the National Journal, have cobbled together a fairly interesting book based on a series of global surveys undertaken by Pew. Much of what these surveys uncovered about world opinion of the United States as a nation really came as no surprise to me. But what was rather unsettling was the revelation that world opinion of the American people has seemingly taken a nosedive over the past few years. While a majority of people overseas concede that Americans are generally industrious and highly creative they also view us as greedy, somewhat dishonest in our business dealings and overly religious. For a variety of reasons Americans view the world very differently from people in the rest of the world, most especially the Europeans and of course Muslims. And frankly, it is really not difficult to understand why these people feel the way they do. People all over the world believe that American culture and values are being shoved down their throats. Americans seem to think this is a good thing but many around the world disagree vehemently. People all over the world also object to our current interventionist foreign policy and many have a particular distaste for President George W. Bush whom they view as some sort of "cowboy". "America Against The World" will help you to understand these important issues more clearly. I have read this kind of book before and I find that they usually become somewhat repetitive and I begin to lose interest.Read more ›
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