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Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values Paperback – March 23, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0143014232 ISBN-10: 0143014234

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A persuasive and arresting antidote to the popular wisdom du jour . . . -- Toronto Star

Adams makes a powerful argument that Canadians and Americans are motivated by very different value systems . . . -- The Daily News

If timing is everything, Toronto pollster Michael Adams clocks in perfectly with his latest book. -- Winnipeg Free Press

[Adams'] findings are startling. -- The Globe and Mail

From the Publisher

The bestselling author of 'Sex in the Snow' examines the fascinating relationship - and profound differences - between Canadians and Americans.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (March 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143014234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143014232
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,780,038 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

The present work, however, is simplistic and sanctimonious.
Reader From Aurora
For the first important point, that the book is meant for a Canadian audience, if you are a thin skinned American then I would not suggest you reading this book.
John G. Hilliard
As a Canadian, who happens to agree with many of Adams own personal beliefs, I am also smart enough not to buy what he's selling.
Paul Mackinnon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 54 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on May 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I am an American who just moved to Canada and you can not go into a book shop without having this book prominently displayed. It is everywhere so I figured "when in Rome" and picked up a copy. The book is the detail of the authors studies of the American and Canadian cultures and if they are becoming more similar or growing apart. The author lets the reader know up front two very important things, first that the book is meant for a Canadian audience and secondly that the author is a full time professional sociological researcher.
For the first important point, that the book is meant for a Canadian audience, if you are a thin skinned American then I would not suggest you reading this book. It is not that the author takes any nasty cheap shots at Americans. It is just that he does not sugar coat the differences when they are more negative toward the American side. I could not argue with any of his comments, it was just that he was exposing some of the rather unsightly bits about the US and at times that can be uncomfortable for an American.
The second point I felt was important was that the author is not an author by trade, but basically a researcher. This meant that this book was one of the most difficult to read and unnecessarily dense books I have read in a long time. If the author could have said a sentence in five words he used 25 and used a fair number a words that the common reader has never heard of. If you buy the book keep going through the painful first chapter, the road gets better after about 40 pages but the book is never a walk in the park.
With these criticisms aside I did find parts of the book interesting. It would be good for an American to read these types of books to detail out the differences between the two countries and maybe to show them that all things American are not always the best. It is just that this book is so unfriendly to the reader that I do not think this is the vehicle for wide appeal.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By JOHN DUROSE on September 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's too bad that this book is not available in the US but easily ships from Canada (check out the author's website). The title should say how the US is drifting to the right while the most of our allies and friends are going the other direction; perhaps that explains the lack of support in Iraq. The Christian Right has a huge influence in this country whereas in Canada and Western Europe church attendance continues to decline. The book explains many interesting trends but the one that sticks out for me is that in the US, 59% of the population feels the man should be head of the household; in Canada that number is in the low teens.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Anne Terry on April 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
What do you get when the co-founder of a political polling company steps back, looks at the numbers, and decides to write a book? You get a fascinating and sometimes counter-intuitive look at the evolution of current "American Values". Mr. Adams' premise is that even before 9/11, Americans were moving further away from a society of Idealism and Fulfillment, and towards Exclusion and Survival.
This is not a ponderous volume of statistics, but a quirky, quick read, that leaves one with a lot to think about.
This book was obviously aimed at the Canadian reader, and I hope he releases a updated version for the American audience when the 2004 figures have been compiled. But you can just skip over some of the Canada-specific references, and the long suffering pose of submission but inherent superiority to the U.S.. It IS enlightening to see the U.S. through Canadian eyes.
There are some interesting insights to George W's presidency, the debate over same sex marriages, and a discussion of the regional differences in the U.S., and implications for the future.
I was surprised to learn that Canada has more in common with New England than New England has in common with the Deep South. And that the cultural trends among young people are very divergent from the 60+ crowd, and not always in the direction I expected.
Not a perfect book. But worth reading.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Snowkarver on December 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Having lived half my life in Canada, several years in the United States, and the remainder overseas, I feel uniquely positioned to comment on this book. Regardless of whether Adams' methodology is sound - and various reviewers have argued on both sides - his overall hypothesis "feels" right.
Especially in the earlier sections, where he paints with broad strokes, the arguments ring mostly true and his storytelling is compelling, save for a few instances where a natural bias towards presenting Canada as some sort of perfect postmodern utopia leaks through. While every author is entitled to a personal viewpoint, it's mildly discomfiting to see in a book that is, for all intents and purposes, the product of a quantitative polling company.
But my biggest issue with Fire and Ice comes in its later pages, when Adams pulls down into a more micro level of analysis. At this level, many of his conclusions feel forced, as though he felt pressure to interpolate stories from data best used to illustrate the big picture. The net result is a book that seems to slip from captivating theory into stereotyping.
The compelling hypothesis makes for a fast, fun read, but it's ultimately unsatisfying. Try it in concert with a more personal, qualitative look at our two cultures, such as "The Border" by James Laxer.
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