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Will America Change?, By Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies

Reviewed,Brandon Robshaw
Sunday 16 November 2008 01:00 GMT

These authors' previous book was called Why Do People Hate America?, so you get some idea of where they're coming from. Their thesis here is that America has got to change, for all our sakes, but that there are precious few signs of its doing so. They analyse the US media and drama shows to produce evidence of an ideology that is both insular and aggressive; they reveal telling facts such as that in 2006, only six of the 100 staff in the Baghdad Embassy could even speak Arabic.

The authors accuse the US of failing to cultivate a sympathetic understanding of other cultures, yet they don't follow their own prescription. America is always spoken of as a monolith, with no recognition of dissenting voices within. Though the authors can't be blamed for not foretelling Obama's election, they can certainly be blamed for not recognising the face of America he represents.

"Urgent, compelling and provocative", it says on the back of the book. Pious, patronising and one-sided might be nearer the mark.

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