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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read...
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...
Published on September 6, 2003 by JOHN DUROSE

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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little More Snow Melt Needed
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...
Published on May 13, 2004 by John G. Hilliard


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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Little More Snow Melt Needed, May 13, 2004
By 
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the read..., September 6, 2003
By 
JOHN DUROSE (Albuquerque, NM USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and The Myth of Converging Values (Hardcover)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, April 30, 2004
By 
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
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, but ultimately unsatisfying, December 18, 2003
This review is from: Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and The Myth of Converging Values (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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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and insightful read, June 2, 2004
By 
Psyche (spiralnature.com) - See all my reviews
Adams clearly states in the introduction that this is a book intended for a Canadian audience, however he does 'hope it may be of interest to Americans who may be intrigued by a glimpse of a country so seemingly near and yet with their mental postures far from their own' and adds that 'Europeans, Australians and even the Queen's subjects in Tony Blair's Britain who are ambivalent about American influence on their societies might also find some useful lessons in the Canada-U.S. nexus' (pg 15). As he says 'Canadians may like Americans, speak the same language, and consume more their fast food and popular culture, but we embrace a different hierarchy of values. Moreover, the differences, as I have attempted to show, are increasing rather than decreasing with economic integration' (pg 142).
Fire and Ice came from years of research into the ideals and values held by Canadians from 1983 to 2000, Adam states that he was 'impressed with just how much Canadians' social values seemed to be diverging from those of Americans. (After all, we are frequently made to feel we have become nothing more than unarmed Americans with health insurance.)' (pg xii) - and this is even before September 11th.
He notes being particularly interested in finding out 'why an initially "conservative" society like Canada has ended up producing an autonomous, inner-directed, flexible, tolerant, socially liberal, and spiritually eclectic people while an intentionally "liberal" society like the United States has ended up producing a people who are, relatively speaking, materialistic, outer-directed, intolerant, socially conservative, and deferential to traditional institutional authority. Why do these two societies seem to prove the law of unintended consequences?' (pg 10).
Despite relying heavily on the statistics produced by Environics, the company he co-founded, Adams is able interpret the findings so they're more or less understandable to the layperson. He brings up current events, and there are numerous references to pop culture, everything from Rockstar Games' Vice City, Eminem's 8-Mile, to Blade Runner - however with a decidedly American flavour.
In writing this book Adams offers Canadians a more detailed description of our national identity than the traditional 'not American' retort. In particular, his 'reading of Canadian values tells me that none has become more important in this country than autonomy - and that autonomy, in the context of interdependence, is valued at every level from the individual right up to the nation' (pg 144).
Fire and Ice makes for an entertaining and insightful read into the Canadian and American psyches. However far as his aim to remain impartial goes, he falls somewhat short of the mark. Without slandering America, there is a discernable favouring of Canadian ideals and values - completely understandable as Adams himself is Canadian. Highly recommended reading to sceptical Canadians, Americans interested in viewing themselves through a maple-leaf shaped lens, and, heck, everyone else.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars As much as I wanted to like it...., February 6, 2007
By 
Paul Mackinnon (halifax, nova scotia, canada) - See all my reviews
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Adams claims he is a pure researcher, but you don't get very far into "Fire and Ice" before you realise that he's a man with an agenda, and that agenda is to portray the US as a gun-totin', God-fearin', Bush-lovin' county of idiots, as opposed to the liberal-minded, socially conscious, tree-hugging Canadians. 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.

When you have an agenda, stats can tell you what you want to hear. Adams destroys all credibility by telling us what he wanted to find before he ever found it. Also, everyone knows that politics are cyclical. This book may stand as an interesting historical footnote of a time when America was ruled unwisely by a staunch conservative. But we know that countries such as the USA or Canada shift one way to the other with regularity. Politics in our democracies are pendulums, and in the time since the publication of this book, we've handed the Liberals their walking papers, and Americans are likely to do the same thing to the Republicans. What will Adams think then?

There were some interesting findings, sure, but only the most naive bile-filled Bush hater will enjoy this. For my money, I prefer those George W. Bushisms daily calenders.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I borrowed it from the library & now I'm buying it!, December 2, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and The Myth of Converging Values (Hardcover)
After living in Boston for ten months, I returned to my island home in BC and found this book in my local library. I read it in two days, and now I'm going to get it. It confirmed what I experienced as a Canadian in the States. The States comes across as more diverse than Canada, and in many ways far more conservative. For example, on the question around patriarchy, whether the man should be the head of the household, New England, the most liberal region in the United States, was more conservative than Alberta, Canada's most conservative region. So much for convergence, eh? Also, the growing ease with which Americans accept violence corresponds with what I found.
One reviewer criticised Adams methodology, but if it is so bad, then why is Environics still in business? The reviewer pointed us to David Frum for a detailed critique, but Frum is the former Bush speech writer who gave us the phrase "axis of evil." Adams may have sometimes asked different questions, but this is less comparing apples and oranges than comparing mackintoshs and spartans; the questions are dealing with the same underlying values. This is hot stuff, so don't be surprised if those who have a stake in the myth of converging values will try to attack and spin it as much as possible. And, in any case, have those arguing for the convergence offered anything near as detailed an argument as what Adams has presented?
Anyone who spends any time bouncing back and forth across the border will find their intuitions confirmed by Adams' book. More importantly, it will tell them why, and it will show them some things they missed, but which, after being pointed out, seem obvious. Americans may speak the same language as Canadians, and we may watch much the same TV, the same movies, and read many of the same books -- we may even have Canadians appearing in those TV programs and in those movies, and even ghost-writing for the President -- but make no mistake, Americans are not the same as Canadians, and Canada is much more than the States with universal healthcare. If you don't believe me, go and live there for a bit, and then come back!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both interesting and scary, although a little out of date, February 19, 2011
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This is an analysis of value attitudes in the US and Canada primarily written to squash the idea that U.S. and Canadian values are converging. I, for one, a US citizen much concerned with the retrograde direction many in the US want to take, believe that his conclusions are right on target (even if the conclusions are now over 10 years old). The different values and quality of life of Canadians as opposed to the US should be apparent to any U.S. person who visits Canada and knows Canadians, assuming one gets past the superficial appearance that they look and sound almost like U.S. persons. Yes, parts of the text could be a little dry to those not familiar with survey methodology or statistics. And yes, there are a few errors and erroneous assumptions (such as the crazy statement that guns are checked at the door of US churches), but overall the book unfortunately paints a painfully accurate picture of the U.S. that I see every day. Adams confirms my suspicion that some of us born south of the border would fit into Canadian society better than we do in our country. I would recommend this book to both Canadians and U.S. citizens, and hope the work will be updated with current data in the near future.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simplistic and Sanctimonious, February 16, 2006
Michael Adams' Fire and Ice examines differences between American and Canadian social values at the close of the twentieth century. Adams is a long-time pollster on social issues with the Canadian firm Environics.

From an overall perspective the book offers little new insight into North American social values. It is important to recognize at the outset that the types of aggregate value-mapping techniques used by Adams are blunt tools at best. In some ways they are analogous to horoscopes, so general that in seeking to speak to everyone they speak to no one. Aside from this generality, Fire and Ice has two particular weaknesses, currency and tone. With respect to former, the book has been overtaken by events (Sept 11 2001). The data used in Adams' analysis is largely taken from surveys taken during the 1990s and as a result has limited relevance in 2006. Adams is aware of this weakness - why publish?

Aside from its lack of timeliness the book's tone is also disappointing. Adams is a limited writer who has gotten worse with time. One of his earlier works "Sex in the Snow" was not too badly done given the limitations of this genre. The present work, however, is simplistic and sanctimonious. For example, comments such as the following typify the book "{in the US} Churches are one of the few places ... where guns are left at home or under the seat of the 4X4 or checked at the door". This type of anti-Americanism is in bad taste - as a Canadian I find it particularly disappointing.

Save your money and time.
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19 of 29 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and underwhelming., August 22, 2005
By 
Jeff Eloquor (Vancouver, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
For those who were looking for a fair comparison between the two most geographically endowed nations on the planet, you will not find it here. Michael Adam's approach suffers from a bias that paints the United States an irrational, dark and forbidding place. He uses many distortions to obtain the answers he needs to promote his view, rather than absorbing critical facts. Although my complaints are numerous, two examples will suffice.
In one case, he travels a great length to glorify minivan drivers as "child-friendly" and "savvy bargain hunters". In contrast, he will vilify SUV drivers as "rugged individualists" who care little for common sense the environment. Since the minivan outsells the SUV two to one in Canada but the ratio is reversed in the United States, he concludes that a fundamental difference in values exists between the two countries. However, he carefully ignores the countries' many variables as differing age profiles, women's preference for perceived SUV safety, lower American gas prices and lower disposable Canadian income. Stereotyping and the dependency on a trivial ratio do not build a safe ground for academic research.
In another case, he paints Canadians' response to the terror attacks of 9/11 with "feelings of sympathy for and solidarity with the United States". Then he declares that America squandered its neighbor's good will seven months later when four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan were accidentally killed by a U.S, fighter pilot in a friendly-fire incident, only to be followed by a inadequate amount of grief from George W Bush. What Michael Adams conveniently leaves out that Canada's sympathy to its neighbor was evaporating within days of 9/11. Its motley collection of left-wing leaders and commentators, such as Sunera Thobani, Svend Robinson, Maude Barlow and Eric Margolis, were immediately promoting the 'root causes' and 'America is to blame' diatribes in their speeches and columns. The CBC even had its infamous Town Hall Meeting just days after the attacks, where a simple round of questioning immediately degenerated into a heated carnival of U.S.-bashing. A pusillanimous Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, with a keen political eye for embracing these groups, decided to send token and combat-avoiding units to Afghanistan, reinforcing views across Canada that America's pursuits and actions were ignoble from the start.
Michael Adams has drawn many conclusions to encourage his viewpoint of two diverging cultures but he should have used some help from a David K Foot or a Paul M Kennedy to salvage his underwhelming arguments.
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Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and The Myth of Converging Values
Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and The Myth of Converging Values by Michael;Jamieson, David;Langstaff, Amy Adams (Hardcover - 2003)
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