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Observing America
The Commentary of British Visitors to the United States, 1890—1950
Robert Frankel

Studies in American Thought and Culture

"Vivid sketches of how eminent English commentators both praised and criticized Americans."
—Gerald W. McFarland, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, author of Inside Greenwich Village

Beginning with Alexis de Tocqueville and Frances Trollope, visitors to America have written some of the most penetrating and, occasionally, scathing commentaries on U.S. politics and culture. Observing America focuses on four of the most insightful British commentators on America between 1890 and 1950. The colorful journalist W. T. Stead championed Anglo-American unity while plunging into reform efforts in Chicago. The versatile writer H. G. Wells fiercely criticized capitalist America but found reason for hope in the administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt. G. K. Chesterton, one of England's great men of letters, urged Americans to preserve the vestiges of Jeffersonian democracy that he still discerned in the small towns of the heartland. And the influential political theorist and activist Harold Laski assailed the business ethos that he believed dominated the nation, especially after Franklin Roosevelt's death.

Robert Frankel examines the New World experiences of these commentators and the books they wrote about America. He also probes similar writings by other prominent observers from the British Isles, including Beatrice Webb, Rudyard Kipling, and George Bernard Shaw. The result is a book that offers keen insights into America's national identity in a time of vast political and cultural change.

"These visitors offer observations that are invariably interesting, often insightful, and sometimes quirkily idiosyncratic, reflecting the visitors' own agendas, ideological perspectives, political biases, and cultural orientation."
—Paul S. Boyer, author of By the Bomb's Early Light, series editor

Studies in American Thought and Culture
Paul S. Boyer, Series Editor

Robert Frankel is associate editor of The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800.

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Of Related Interest
Cosmopolitanism and Solidarity: Studies in Ethnoracial, Religious, and Professional Affiliation in the United States
David A. Hollinger

cover of Frankel is black and red, with posterized drawings of the four men featured.

January 2007

LC: 2006008622 E
328 pp.  6 x 9

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Cloth $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-21880-5
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