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Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America (The Public Square)

4.2 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0691122878
ISBN-10: 0691122873
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Editorial Reviews


"In Uncouth Nation . . . the subject is the breadth and depth of the anti-Americanism that has swept Europe in recent years. . . . [A] book that promises to explain how Europe's aversion to the US has been catapulted into overdrive by George W. Bush's policies."--Caroline Walsh, Irish Times

"Andrei S. Markovitz unveils . . . the huge misconception, implied or actually believed around the world, that anti-Americanism is something new. He uses a subtle example to demonstrate that it is the opposite: a malignant growth as old as the hills."--Bogdan Kipling, Chronicle Herald

"Andrei S. Markovits sensibly distinguishes between disapproval of the United States for what it does and dislike of the United States for what it is. . . . In a fascinating twist, Markovits highlights the gradual transformation of European anti-Americanism after the Second World War from an ideology of the discredited right to one of the anti-imperialist left. . . . The book offers a great deal of convincing evidence for these assertions, some of it based on survey research, but most of it based on Markovits's deep familiarity with Europe's left-wing scene."--Jeffrey Kopstein, The Globe and Mail

"Markovits documents his arguments extensively, and though he makes his leftist leanings clear, his research convinces him that anti-Americanism isn't about policy but about essence, which precedes it."--Library Journal

"Markovits performs a valuable service. If you wonder where the U.S.-European relationship is heading, Uncouth Nation is a book well-worth reading."--Sasha Abramsky, American Prospect

"The resentment of the United States, [Markovits] shows, has spread far beyond politics, penetrating deep into the pores of everyday European life. . . . In an argument Democrats in particular need to hear, Markovits concludes soberly that European hostility is unlikely to be substantially abated in a post-Bush America because Europe's animosities will remain central to both combating globalization and creating a European identity. Until now, European anti-Americanism has not had widespread consequences. As a practical matter, Europeans have needed to compartmentalize their feelings. But that can change."--Fred Siegel, Blueprint Magazine

"Markovits's analysis and discussion of post-1991 and particularly post-9/11 European anti-Americanism is convincing and disturbing. . . . Uncouth Nation admirably fulfills the mandate of the new Public Square series published by Princeton University Press, which produces scholarly political books that are intended to foster public discussion and debate."--Diane N. Labrosse, Montreal Gazette

"The point underlying this rich and sophisticated book is exactly that, like all other anti-isms, European anti-Americanism reflects a set of prejudices that have more to do with Europe's own problems than with America's.... It is...an invitation to Europe to look more deeply into itself in order to build on solid foundations that new European identity that European elites and masses alike rightly seem so impatient to give birth to... [T]he arguments of the book...should be read and appreciated."--Emiliano Alessandri, International Spectator

"Markovits' stellar, finely researched and written account will take its place in the emergent canon of important works by other prominent intellectuals on the phenomenon of anti-Americanism. . . . Markovits deserves praise and support for daring to take on the topic of anti-Americanism, for challenging the orthodoxy of anti-Americanism and exposing its irrationality, cultural essentialism, and raw reductionisms. . . . The real value of Markovits' book lies . . . in its appeal to thinking and reflective people who have generally considered themselves left of center, but who no longer wish to hide their own prejudices. biases, and hypocrisy from themselves."--Thomas Cushman, Democratiya

"The point underlying this rich and sophisticated book is . . . that, like all other anti-isms, European anti- Americanism reflects a set of prejudices that have more to do with Europe's own problems than with America's. . . . The arguments of the book have been made and should be read and appreciated."--Emiliano Alessandri, International Spectator

From the Back Cover

In Uncouth Nation, Andrei Markovits provides deep insights into anti-Americanism in Europe today and delves into many of the facets that make the American-European relationship so unique. This book should be read and discussed!"--Joschka Fischer, former Foreign Minister of Germany; and Professor, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

"Anti-Americanism is as old as the Republic--a historical constant, which is only remotely related to specific American behavior. So what is new? Andrei Markovits has delivered the best answer yet, ranging across an astounding wealth of material from politics and culture. Uncouth Nation is a rare academic treat. Rigorous and analytical, the book is also a pleasure to read as it penetrates a critical issue of our time."--Josef Joffe, Publisher and Editor of Die Zeit, and Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

"Andrei Markovits does three things in this excellent book: he provides an account of the historical and contemporary forms of European anti-Americanism (and of its close relative, anti-Semitism); he analyzes the roots and causes of this phenomenon; and, best of all, he gives us a running critique of the frequent silliness and malice of the anti-Americans and of their role in fashioning a certain kind, which is not the best possible kind, of pan-European politics."--Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study

"For many years now, Andrei Markovits has been North America's most insightful analyst of European political culture. In Uncouth Nation he has written a near-masterpiece. On page after page, Markovits convincingly demonstrates the all-consuming nature of European anti-Americanism. He shows that, in an era where European collective identity remains in tenuous flux, anti-Americanism has become a mainstay of ersatz ideological cohesion. In a classical instance of ressentiment, Europeans deride America not so much for what it does but because of what it is-an orientation that often says more about contemporary Europe than about its despised trans-Atlantic rival. Uncouth Nation is lucidly argued and mellifluously written. Markovits has provided us with a landmark study in political pathology."--Richard Wolin, Graduate Center, City University of New York author of The Seduction of Unreason

"Disturbing and provocative, this wide-ranging and passionate intervention convenes history, social analysis, and a sense of anxiety to rouse attention to the underside of the European critique of America. Just as it intends, the book will stir comment and debate on both sides of the Atlantic, especially on the Left. For one, I can't wait."--Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative Action Was White

"Recent events, from September 11 to the Iraq war to repeated acts of terrorism, have given new vigor to the debate on anti-Americanism. Uncouth Nation contributes significantly to the debate. Its author, who is deeply familiar with both the European and American literature on the subject, has clearly thought a great deal about anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism in his quest to make sense of each as well as to determine how they interact."--Ezra Suleiman, Princeton University, author of Dismantling Democratic States

"Andrei Markovits, with a mix of analytical clarity, historical perspective, and years of personal experience as one of our most informed observers of European politics, offers a challenging, disquieting yet certainly important analysis of views that have entered the continent's political mainstream. While many think or hope that the hostility of recent years is primarily a short-term reaction to the policies of George W. Bush, Markovits makes a compelling case that longer-term currents are at work. Uncouth Nation should be read by policymakers, scholars, and citizens who seek a deeper understanding of recent tensions and prospects for trans-Atlantic relations and for Europe's future."--Jeffrey Herf, University of Maryland, author of The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust


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Product Details

  • Series: The Public Square
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (January 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691122873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691122878
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #194,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tobias Jaecker on February 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Uncouth Nation" is an awesome book. It's the best analysis I've ever read about the phenomenon of European anti-Americanism. As a German, I know what I'm talking about.

Andrei S. Markovits, a Professor of Comparative Politics and German Studies at the University of Michigan, argues that Europeans hate America not for what it does but for what it is. He cites tons of examples to prove the case for his assumption. If it is about politics, economy, culture, or sports: America and the Americans are often seen as stupid, egoistic, shallow, synthetic, money-mad, rowdyish, and uncouth.

More and more Europeans are in fear of something like "Americanization" or "American conditions". For example, when Juergen Klinsmann was committed to coach the German soccer team, many commentators worried about his plans to exercise "American training methods". European anti-Americanism also appears as an antagonism sometimes: Many Europeans bitch about Hollywood movies although they love to watch them. Many people say they hate McDonalds although they love to eat burgers. America can't do it right: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Markovits shows that anti-Americanism has only little to do with reality, with George W. Bush or the current politics of the U.S. administration. In fact, Anti-Americanism is a biased and stereotyped imagination of America. In this imagination, America is seen as origin of all evil things all over the world. It is equated with capitalism and globalization. But why has anti-Americanism become so successful today? In Europe, it helps to form a European identity. Many Europeans don't have any idea for what a unified Europe could stand for. They only know that it shouldn't be like America.

It's sad but true: Anti-Americanism has become a "lingua franca" in Europe today. Markovits' in-depth and well-written book is a must read for everyone who wants to understand that phenomenon.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book on an interesting, compelling and timely topic. And though the work is based on scholarship (with lots of footnotes, most of which are well worth reading, too), it is not at all written in that overly intellectual tone and heavy-handed style that scholars so often use. In other words: it's not work to read, it's a very enjoyable read.

Markovits highlights the historical background of Euro anti-Americanism, and explains how it has evolved into a universal feature of everyday discourse amongst all Europeans of all class backgrounds (not just, as in the past, elites). The presidency of George W. Bush provides some explanation for the more recent phenomena, but this goes well beyond and much deeper than Bush and is likely to remain long after he's gone.

The combination of "ill-will and ignorance" on the part of so many explains why (and how) Europeans can make the most outlandish statements and believe the most far-fetched conspriracy theories regarding Americans. (Now I understand why that pretty young blond woman I met on the train in Germany seemed so incredulous when I answered that I owned only one televison and no firearms!)

The author is clearly a man of the political Left, yet he deftly demonstrates how anti-Americanism has come to seriously distort intellectual debate among those who should know better (this could also be applied to the Left in the US, I think), while resentment, rejection and even hatred of the US is now key to the formation of a new "European Identity" (meaning identification with the EU, above and beyond individaul countries). The chapter on anti-semitism (anti-Americanism's "twin") is quite excellent, and likely the book's most controversial.
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Format: Hardcover
With Uncouth Nation: Why Europe Dislikes America Andrei Markovits, one of the world's most influential political scientists and one of the leading analysts of European politics and transatlantic relations, has produced a major work on the resurging problem of anti-Americanism in Europe. Looking behind the narrowly circumscribed realm of politics, Markovits explores the politics of culture and the culture of politics in which anti-Americanism originated and finds expression. Markovits explores the historical routes, changing functions, and seesaws of anti-Americanism in European history, and the ambivalences in Europe's relationship with the New World. But he primarily addresses current public discourses and presumably "non-political" social and cultural debates since 9/11, incorporating a sophisticated analysis of both media and public opinion data. He thereby provides a differentiated account of distinct left-wing, right-wing and cultural anti-Americanisms and their varying origins. However, he also points out that anti-Americanism, that is the blurred, stereotypical and prejudicial perception of the American nation and its citizens as such, independent from their actual behavior, may well be on the verge of becoming Europe's "lingua franca", turning cultural reservation against "Europe's antonymous Other" into a political tool. As Markovits hypothesizes: Equipped with a mass base "anti-Americanism could, for the first time in its long European history, become a powerful force well beyond those ambivalences, antipathies, and resentments that have continuously shaped the intellectual life of Europe since July 5, 1776." (p.221) At least among significant parts of the elites, the sense of difference is more and more replaced by disdain.Read more ›
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