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The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World    by Mark Hertsgaard order for
Eagle's Shadow
by Mark Hertsgaard
Order:  USA  Can
Picador, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

As a Canadian, overwhelmed by the outpourings of the U.S. media (with the Canadian media only a few beats behind), and unavoidably awed by the giant on our doorstep, I looked forward to finding out how the rest of the world really feels about the United States. Mark Hertsgaard is the author of four previous books. He is a journalist, lecturer, and contributor to National Public Radio. Apparently he was, at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attack, completing a trip around the world, finding out what people in fifteen countries thought about America; he appears uniquely qualified to set out their views in the context of the U.S. as it is today.

Unfortunately, although the author starts off each chapter with a few comments from people he met, they are usually somewhat trivial. After each, he continues with his own beliefs about many aspects of American political, social and economic systems - which are not without interest but not what was advertised. I have my own opinions about the last presidential election, for example, but I am not really interested in reading a rehash of how Bush stole it from Gore, and I doubt very much whether the rest of the world cares. Nor am I much interested now in what Henry Kissinger said about Chile under Allende, or whether the C.I.A. really actively aided in the latter's overthrow in 1973.

Mr. Hertsgaard is obviously a highly motivated left wing liberal, and I have some sympathy for many of his views. He is also a good writer, sometimes witty and occasionally persuasive. His book is well worth reading for its presentation of nearly all of the aspects of U.S. policy to which other countries have objected. Though I am sure many people in the rest of the world would agree with him, I just wish he had asked them for their views.

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