It has never been more important for Americans to understand why the world both hates and loves the United States. In What They Think of Us, a remarkable group of writers from the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and Latin America describes the world’s profoundly ambivalent attitudes toward the United States — before and since 9/11.
While many people around the world continue to see the United States as a model despite the Iraq war and the war on terror, the U.S. response to 9/11 has undoubtedly intensified global anti-Americanism. What They Think of Us reveals that substantial goodwill toward America still exists, but that this sympathy is in peril — and that there is an immense gap between how Americans view their country and how it is viewed abroad.
Drawing on broad research and personal experience while avoiding anecdotalism and polemics, the writers gathered here combine political, cultural, and historical analysis to explain how people in different parts of the world see the United States. They show that not all anti-Americanism can be blamed on U.S. foreign policy. America is disliked not just for what it does but also for what it is, and perceptions of both are profoundly shaped — and sometimes warped — by the domestic realities of the countries where anti-Americanism thrives. In addition to analyzing America’s battered global reputation, these writers propose ways the United States and other countries can build better relations through greater understanding and respect.
David Farber is Professor of History at Temple University. His books include Taken Hostage: The Iran Hostage Crisis and America's First Encounter with Radical Islam (Princeton).
"Each [essay] is thoughtful, and consciously and unconsciously revealing."—Greg Sheridan, The Australian
"Seven fine essays may shock Americans on the depth of estrangement of Iraqis, Indonesians, Turks, Chinese, Russians, Latin Americans, and Europeans from U.S. policy. Not focusing on survey research, the writers, academics from various nations, mostly cite intellectuals to explain the setting and ideology of anti-Americanism.....This short book could be useful in certain courses but especially worthwhile for the next administration. Washington has been largely oblivious to this deep estrangement, which now severely limits US foreign policy."—M.G. Roskin, Choice
"These essays highlight what we have long observed from our international polling, that people do not judge us by what we say about ourselves, but by how they perceive we are threatening them. What They Think of Us is a must-read book for Ms. Karen Hughes and Co."—James J. Zogby, founder and President of the Arab American Institute
"This is an important and timely book. To my knowledge there is no other book that does what this one does—collect commentaries on the United States written by foreigners. It is terrifically fresh in its approach and a valuable addition to writing about the post-9/11 world."—Mark Lawrence, University of Texas, Austin
"Offering a broad international perspective on anti-American attitudes, What They Think of Us is timely and provocative. It helps explain why so many educated and even democratic-minded citizens around the world have grown increasingly critical of the United States in the last decade. The essays point to the corrosive effects of American military intervention, economic expansion, and cultural insensitivity. This book allows the reader to understand, if not always sympathize with, the experiences and attitudes of people who see the world very differently from the average American."—Jeremi Suri, University of Wisconsin, Madison