Saturday, January 13, 2018

Book Suzy Hansen's "Notes On A Foreign Country"

My first book of 2018 was Suzy Hansen's "Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World".  A mixture of travelogue and personal commentary on American meddling, Hansen's book discusses her move from New Jersey/New York to Istanbul where she has lived for some ten years.  Her experience in this, the first foreign country she had ever lived in for any amount of time, enlightens her to just how ill informed she (and most Americans) was concerning the world outside of America' borders.

Istanbul opened her eyes and dispels many of the stereotypes and misconceptions the typical American has nurtured, fed by a shallow education of history and a government that works to keep its citizens uninformed.  Providing examples (many first hand) of Turkey, Greece, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guatemala, Hansen explores how post-world-war American colonialism, often in the guise of modernization, has wreaked havoc on the governments, societies, and people of the developing world, especially the Middle East and the Muslim world.

Hansen learns just how ill informed the average American is.  I have thought this for many years.  If I were in control I would have every American live in a 'developing' country for at least a couple years early in their lives so they can really and truly learn about America and American influence outside her borders.  Needless to say my nine years in Guatemala opened my eyes but I still have to be careful not to fall into the America-can-do-no-wrong trap.  With recent events, it is becoming easier to avoid being swayed by the propaganda.

I gave this book four stars out of five on Goodreads.  Unfortunately the people who need to read it won't.  *sigh*

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