Europeans just don't like America. This idea never truly hit me until I started talking to a lot of Europeans. I work mostly with Europeans, and have been exposed to a gratuitous amount of Austrian culture. I've learned to appreciate many aspects of European culture such as coffee, beer, sitting outside for the sake of sitting outside, and gluvine. These new aspects of culture are simply lovable. However, one thing that always bugged me was the notion of something becoming "Americanized" and the negative connotations associated with the word. I didn't quite understand what "Americanized" meant until I read Uncouth Nation.
Uncouth Nation drills into the history and cause for European anti-Americanism. It's a rigorous academic piece with the 1/5 of the book containing footnotes and references. It's a trough to read but extremely illuminating. Europe hates America not just due to the justifiable gripes of the Iraq War and Guantanamo, but European elites have always had qualms with America. Ever since Columbus found the "New World", Europe became the "Old World". America was blessed with the word "New World" and all of its connotations, creating an envy among the European elites. This envy created a situation where European elites fabricated a horridness about America. American soil would suck all that is good from any European. Books and articles discussed the idea that a European would become ill by eating American grown food. This sense of distaste for America expands into modern America culture, politics, economics, and just about every facet of American life. America has no culture. Movies where things blow up are for simpletons and is so uncivilized. America is too capitalist. Corporations are too big, destroying the world wherever they go. America is too arrogant, ignoring the world sport of Soccer. No matter what, America has it wrong.
Yet while Uncouth Nation unveils many of the qualms that Europeans have with Americans, it is also an ardent defense of America and American policies. Yes many specific issues anyone may have with American POLICY can be debated, but much of the gripe Europe has with America is completely irrational and hypocritical. For example, one claim is that Americans are arrogant, pushing our opinions on others, forcing Europe to digest what "lowly" culture we have. But this argument is completely unfounded. Yes we ship our movies out to Europe, but Europe does the same. Nobody forces Europeans to go watch the same movies that are produced in Hollywood. Or take the argument that American capitalism is being shipped across the world. Isn't BMW selling cars in America? Saying Americans are arrogant since we don't watch/play soccer doesn't make sense. What about the hypocrisy of Europeans blaming Americans for creating women's soccer as an arrogant deterioration of the sport. However, isn't that one of the most hypocritical statements ever? Europeans claiming that Americans that they are ruining soccer by letting women play is extreme prejudice. Europe are just displaying their own sense of discrimination against women.
Of course these are just generalizations and there will always be exceptions. But Uncouth Nation unveils a level of discrimination with no foundation. If you like soccer, and I like football, so what. If Asians like eating rice and Europeans like eating potatoes, so what? One isn't intrinsically better. That is the true value of this book. Uncouth Nation exposes European Anti-Americanism for what it is: prejudice. And for that, you should read it.