978-0-465-00163-7 / 9780465001637

Not Like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, And Transformed American Culture Since World War II


Publisher:Basic Books



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About the book:

"The Europeans could never understand the American fixation with showers and toilets. Or how these could become a test of whose civilization was superior." Could it possibly be true, Richard Pells continues, "that sitting on the pot might be more exhilarating, and more ennobling, than trudging through Chartres or Notre Dame?"

Not the whole of Pell's cogent investigation of America's attempt to "Americanize" Europe is so merry. But it consistently displays his vast knowledge acquired both as a historian and a frequent resident abroad. Pells comes at his theme from a variety of angles: a chronological treatment before 1945 that sweeps through the cold war years; a chilling discussion of Hitler's impact on the shifting balance of cultural power between Europe and the U.S.; a look at Europe's resistance in the '90s to mass culture; and Hollywood's impact on the European film industry.

What is happening to "us," as we morph into a global culture, whose landmarks, alas, pock the globe with golden arches, Disney detritus, and NikeTowns? Pells notes, refreshingly, that "for many Americans, the effects of American's mass culture and its global economy are even more unsettling within the United States."

Highly engaging and employing a conversational tone, Not Like Us weaves history, theory, vibrant examples, and the comments of such expatriate writers as Mary McCarthy and James Baldwin. It will engage any reader seeking some kind of reason for the relentless vulgarization of the globe. --Hollis Giammatteo

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