A bleeding-heart liberal takes a road trip through the US and finds much not to his liking.
Like many Canadians, Laxer (Political Science/York Univ.) feels that his neighbor to the south casts too great a shadow in the world, especially in the world of political affairs. The fact that the US is now in a position of undisputed world dominance troubles the author, since “while the United States dominates the world, it is to an astonishing degree a nation for itself.” Thus, simultaneously provincial and imperial, Americans have overrun a world they do not understand or much care for. In his travels through the US, Laxer finds confirmations of American perfidy everywhere. He interviews a member of the Michigan militia shortly after the Oklahoma City bombing, attends the execution of Karla Faye Tucker, visits with an abortionist who is threatened with assassination, drops in on a convention of elderly socialists in New York, crashes some protests during the IMF conference in Washington, looks into a Gary Bauer rally in Iowa during the 1999 primaries, and takes gun lessons in Poughkeepsie, New York. He also speculates on why Americans are so fat, offers a strikingly one-sided history of the Cold War, wonders at the fate of Rust Belt towns like Charleston, West Virginia, and provides a rather glum assessment of the “American Century.” Laxer’s politics are garden-variety left-wing and will attract or repel readers accordingly. His only opportunities to broaden his appeal come with his travelogue, but since most of this is mind-numbingly prosaic, tending to revolve around where his hotel was and what he ate for dinner, there is little here to attract any but the committed few.
Predictable, boring, and ill-informed.