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Hating America: A History Hardcover – August 26, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

It's as old as the country itself, argue Barry Rubin, editor of Middle East Review of International Affairs, and journalist Colp Rubin, whose last joint book project for Oxford was Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography. Their nine-chapter chronological tour of the U.S. as hated republic can sometimes feel like little more than a compendium of quotations with filler descriptions—and IDs like "the kindly British novelist Charles Dickens, least snobbish of his nation and defender of the downtrodden in his great novels." But the figures they choose as hostile observers of America and Americans, and the things those observers say, make for a multifaceted national portrait. To take just one example, 19th-century British historian Thomas Carlyle asks a correspondent, "Could you banish yourself from all that is interesting to your mind, forget history, the glorious institutions, the novel principles of old Scotland that you might eat a better dinner, perhaps?" The book starts to feel especially speedy as it tries to represent the 20th and 21st centuries: Islamist Sayyid Qutb; the Eisenhower-era U.S. Information Agency director, George Allen; The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; Baader-Meinhof; Foucault; "a left-wing British journalist"; and Arthur Koestler all make cameos. Long on sound bites and short on in-depth analysis, this book provides entertaining glimpses of a nation that may have invented public relations to combat its own image problem.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The current animus directed at the U.S. as imperialist power and capitalist world dominator is nothing new. The Rubins, one a researcher of international affairs and the other an independent journalist, insightfully recount the long and troubled history of animosity directed at the U.S. They identify five stages in the evolution of anti-Americanism. In the eighteenth century, the American territory was considered wild and barbaric. In the early to mid-nineteenth century, the American experiment in social equality was seen as a failed society. With its growing strength and presence at the end of the nineteenth century leading up to World War II, U.S. democracy was feared as a threat to less democratic nations. From the end of WWII through the end of the cold war, criticism of the U.S. shifted from its potential to its actual domination in world affairs. The latest stage, notwithstanding the sympathy generated by the 9/11 attacks, encompasses a visceral reaction to American assertion of its politics, economics, and culture at the expense of the development of other nations. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (August 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195167732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195167733
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.3 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,197,056 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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This is a very thought provoking book, well resourced, well documented.
John Matlock
If fear is one word that comes to mind when reading this book, impossibility is another -- the impossibility of Americans being loved.
N. Tsafos
A chapter is devoted to those types that are promoted by oppressive collectivist ideologies like communism and fascism.
Peter Uys

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By N. Tsafos on January 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was the humorist Art Buchwald who captured, in 1957, the American predicament; following a survey on what made people dislike America, he concluded: "If Americans would stop spending money, talking loudly in public places, telling the British who won the war, adopt a pro-colonial policy, back future British expeditions to Suez, stop taking oil out of the Middle East, stop chewing gum, ... move their bases out of England, settle the desegregation problem in the South ... put the American woman in her proper place, and not export Rock n' Roll, and speak correct English, the tension between the two countries might ease."

Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin have written an excellent book on what appears to be a timeless obsession -- hating America. What emerges most strongly from their narrative is not only how constant the hatred for America has been, but rather how adaptive -- tailored on an America that was emerging and marginal, to growing and influential, to powerful and omnipresent. This mutating anti-Americanism, always new and always old, has been passed down from the birth of the republic to the present day.

The early forms of anti-Americanism, the Rubins write, revolved around the European belief that the North American habitat was unwelcoming to civilization, producing inferior animals and inferior humans. While this took time to recede, the anti-American tide soon took issue with American manners, intellect, and social organization. Only in the twentieth century can there be a trace of hating America for what it does, rather than what it is; and even then, it is never fully convincing.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on September 21, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Americans want to be loved. We know that we are nice people, and we are puzzled when we watch TV and see obvious evidence that there are people out there that don't like us. Until this book came along, what I had not recognized was how long this had been going on (1600's). Nor had I realized how much official Government policy in many countries, often as an excuse to cover up their own problems, is anti-American.

Much of the book covers the religious aspects. In Europe America is seen as a conservative religious fanatical society. In the Islamic countries as a heathen Great Satan out to wipe out Islam. It kind of makes you wonder just why so many people seem to be willing to go to almost any extreme to come to the United States.

This is a very thought provoking book, well resourced, well documented.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
Long before it was a country the land of America itself was hated. The Rubins begin their survey with an account of the European dislike of and resentment of the barbaric, primitive New World. The French especially and Comte Buffon feature here in their arguing that the New World , a land without Tradition, must be a backward one. But their repulsion of the savage land seems minor in comparison to the murderous kind of America hatred displayed most recently in the world. The Sayd Kutab inspired Islamist hatred of the U.S. whose most devastating product to this point has been 9/11 is one major form of USAphobia exhibited today. But as the Rubins point out the hatred for the US has many varied causes and is often strongly related to the admiration and envy the U.S. arouses. How explain otherwise that people in lands which supposedly hate the U.S. clamor to immigrate to it?
This is a vast subject and the Rubins make a valiant effort to touch on many of the major causes for it.. The Fascist anti- Americanism was for instance bound up with their anti- Semitisim and Racism which thought a 'mixed society' must be an inferior one. The Communists made the Evil economic primarily, the greedy Capitalistic system.
Stereotypes and misperceptions abound in the hatred of America. And again Envy plays a tremendous role. Here even friends like Canada and Great Britain may be guilty.
This book is a good start at looking at the subject but it is by no means exhaustive.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jill Malter on June 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This powerful book characterizes hatred of America. We see some of the aspects of this hatred, including finding fault with America no matter what it does. To many anti-Americans, if we do something, we're meddlesome. If we don't, we are shirking our duty. Either way, we're arrogant, aloof, ignorant, fanatical, power-crazed, and so on.

But there is more to it than the blame that gets attributed to a caricature of the United States. There have to some reasons for anti-Americanism that have to do with America, and not with its detractors. And there are.

As we see in this book, those who defend America are often accused of praising America even when it is wrong, and acting as if we are always right. But are our specific policies and our presumed confidence in them really the reasons why those who hate America dislike us? The Rubins make a good case for there being a different primary cause.

We draw the ire of many anti-Americans simply for being ourselves and doing well. And while we Americans often criticize ourselves when we make mistakes, we do so far less frequently when we do things well. That is why we can appear to others to act as if we are right all the time: when they dislike what we do, it is often because we know we're doing something positive. As the Rubins say, quoting Bernard-Henri Levy, "...Anti-American sentiment we see today, not only in Europe but in the world at large, hates not what is bad in America but what is good ... what they hate is democracy. They hate sexual freedom and the rights of women. They hate tolerance. They hate the separation of religion and state. They hate modernity."

Obviously, one could argue that these attributes of America are not always totally positive.
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