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Critical USA friend

Easy-to-read and enlightening book that will greatly increase your US understanding.


Norwegian everyday life is very much influenced by what is happening in the US, and most Norwegians have a conscious or unconscious relationship with the US. Through movies, TV and other media, and not least historically, most Norwegians are somehow interested in the United States.

At the same time, the understanding of political and social development is not present to the same extent. We get to know what's going on, but don't necessarily understand why and how. The same can be said about the understanding of the American national character. This is what university professor and US friend Ole O. Moen has set out to change through his book, USA. Different country in the west. Former Secretary of State Jan Petersen has also wanted to portray himself as a United States friend, who may criticize and disagree with the policy pursued by the United States from time to time. Petersen has succeeded in this critical disagreement. Moen tries the same, and succeeds to a much greater extent.

Class Society

In a relatively easy-to-read book, Moen reviews the vast majority of aspects of the United States. The book is full of facts and information, and it helps the reader to understand more of the unintelligible US. Moen also addresses the resistance that exists in given segments of the American population to special measures for groups that have been previously discriminated against.

He puts the spotlight on the hypocritical in this, as the same segments do not seem to see any problem with special measures that benefit themselves. These are often people from rich families, who have received special treatment throughout their lives due to their family connections, and often end up with education from universities they do not have a grade basis to enter – if their academic achievements should have decided. The same can be said about sports stars who gain access to top universities, often with mediocre or miserable grades in academic subjects.

The incumbent President, George W. Bush, and former Vice President Dan Quayle are cited as examples of people who entered top universities because of their family connections. Although Americans often like to think of themselves as a classless society, unlike Europe, for example, it is not always true. Class division also exists in the United States, albeit in some other form.

Myths and Indoctrination

Moen also addresses the "indoctrination" that Americans are subjected to from childhood, including the idea of ​​the United States as the best among all nations, and the effect of this. Most people who have been in the US can attest to the patronizing view of everything outside the country that is often found among otherwise well-educated people, and many Norwegian students at American universities have been asked whether there is democracy in Norway, whether there are paved roads in Norway , and whether polar bears actually roam the streets.

In the book, Moen also addresses several of the myths that dominate the reality of reality in the United States, including the myth of how left-wing all the mass media are. This and other features that Moen deals with are actually to some extent applicable in Norway as well, and should perhaps cause some warning lights to shine with us.

Initially, Moen should have wanted to write a 200-page introductory book, ending up with 349 pages. Still, there are a number of things one would have wished he had gone deeper into. The book provides a straightforward introduction to the origins of the various thought forges of varying motives we find in the United States, and we gain glimpses of what power they have.

One-sided criticism

What one can miss, however, is an explanation of how this power is created, namely by means of a huge network. The connections between these thought forges, and with the industrial conglomerates, might have been more profound. Another issue is that Moen's skepticism about the current administration is very clear, but only the criticism from the American left is presented in the book. The team around George W. Bush also gets strong from ultra-conservatives such as Pat Buchanan, which is not featured in the book.

This, as I said, can be explained with limited space, and is understandable to a great extent. This is a book that will significantly increase your understanding of the United States, but it suffers from a major shortcoming: What prevents it from becoming the reference book that anyone who thinks anything about the United States should have at their desk is something so simple that it lacks an index. This would have made the information far more easily accessible.

Shoaib Sultan

Be O. Moen

"USA. The different country in the west »

Cappelen 2005

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