George W. Bush's foreign policy touted America as the model of democracy worth exporting to the four corners of the globe. Osama bin Laden has painted a picture of our society as soulless and materialistic, representing values that are the antithesis of his version of Islam. Such starkly contrasting images of America fuel much heated debate today and drive conflicts around the world. But foreigners have long had a love/hate relationship with the United States, as this book reveals.
Contributors from comparative literature, history, philosophy, and political science combine their talents here to trace the changing visions of America that foreign travelers to our shores from England and France brought back to their contemporaries over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Novels and letters, political analysis, and philosophy are mined for perceptions of what America meant for these European visitors and how idealistic or realistic their observations were. Major writers such as Tocqueville play an important role in this dialogue, but so do lesser-known thinkers such as Gustave de Beaumont, Michel Chevalier, and Victor Jacquemont, whose importance this volume will help resurrect.
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages: 296
Weight: 594 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
"Many have read Tocqueville's observations of Jacksonian America, but how did other visitors from Europe respond to early American institutions and customs? This excellent volume discusses fine and highly varied insights from European visitors such as Gustave de Beaumont, George Berkeley, James Bryce, Michel Chevalier, G. K. Chesterton, Victor Jacquemont, and Frances Trollope. This volume is a superb introduction to the topic of European reactions to America's new democracy."
--Roger Boesche, Occidental College, author of The Strange Liberalism of Alexis de Tocqueville and Tocqueville's Road Map: Methodology, Liberalism, Revolution, and Despotism
"This lively and enjoyable volume offers striking new insights into the ways that Europeans have conceptualized America and made it part of the social imaginaries that define us today. Moving beyond the typical focus on Tocqueville as a keen observer of the United States, the volume's essays show us how other great thinkers from Britain, Ireland, and the European continent have read the contested place of 'America' in Western modernity."
--Eileen Hunt Botting, University of Notre Dame
"In addition to offering new perspectives on some of the major contributors to European constructions of America (Hegel, Tocqueville, Heidegger, etc.), America Through European Eyes examines the works of lesser-known French and British figures such as Jacquemont, Trollope, Chevalier, and Bryce, whose influential accounts of life in the United States have helped shape the ongoing debate about the New World as both a promise and a threat. Detailed readings of a particular author combine with historical narratives to provide both depth and breadth to this excellent volume on transatlantic relations."
--Jean-Philippe Mathy, University of Illinois
"An illuminating collection that goes far toward fulfilling the editors' aim of rejecting simplistic views of an Atlantic divide and replacing them with a more nuanced, historically informed conception of European views of America."
--Harry Liebersohn, H-France Book Reviews
"America Through European Eyes [is] an indispensable starting point for anyone wishing to understand how British and French attitudes to America have changed, and yet, paradoxically, have remained consistent since at least the early 19th century. . . . [Craiutu and Isaac] have performed a salutary service in deepening our understanding of just how profoundly Tocqueville reflected on the relation between human motivation, social mores and political institutions."
--Michael Drolet, European Journal of Political Theory
"In America Through European Eyes, Aurelian Craiutu and Jeffrey Isaac have assembled a stellar group of thinkers from across the political spectrum to examine the question: what does America mean to Europe? . . . The authors explain in careful detail some of the most essential and neglected works of the nineteenth century. That this collection is valuable goes without saying. That it is worth reading is incontestable."
--Cary Federman, Nineteenth-Century French Studies
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