Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World (Hardcover)

Staff Pick Logo
Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
1 on hand, as of May 25 9:45am

Staff Reviews

Sometimes one has to leave a place to discover truths that are hidden by its myths and propaganda: in the case of America, fairy tales spun about exceptionalism and indispensability have allowed U.S. imperialism to cause destruction abroad and increasing austerity at home. A highly educated young journalist, Suzy Hansen had to move to Turkey and explore the surrounding region to fully take stock of the corruptions and coups caused by American foreign policy and to realize America’s place in projecting power and creating chaos in world events. Hansen's loss of illusions make her a fascinating guide to empire in relating her own travels--and using James Baldwin's works and experiences as political and cultural touchstones--to examine America’s outsized, almost willful ignorance of the world. Deceptive policy narratives, where foreign occupations and support for right-wing dictatorships are dressed up as modernization and “good intentions abroad”, are created primarily to be sold domestically. These false stories only serve to obscure the measure of American decline in the world and decay at home—a decay made ripe ironically for authoritarian and kleptocratic figures, similar to strongman dictators that America has promoted abroad, that now ominously threaten our own republic. Hansen's engaging work is necessary for our times.

— Will


Winner of the Overseas Press Club of America's Cornelius Ryan Award

New York Times Book Review Notable Book - Named a Best Book of the Year by New York Magazine and The Progressive

"A deeply honest and brave portrait of of an individual sensibility reckoning with her country's violent role in the world." --Hisham Matar, The New York Times Book Review

In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Suzy Hansen, who grew up in an insular conservative town in New Jersey, was enjoying early success as a journalist for a high-profile New York newspaper. Increasingly, though, the disconnect between the chaos of world events and the response at home took on pressing urgency for her. Seeking to understand the Muslim world that had been reduced to scaremongering headlines, she moved to Istanbul.

Hansen arrived in Istanbul with romantic ideas about a mythical city perched between East and West, and with a na ve sense of the Islamic world beyond. Over the course of her many years of living in Turkey and traveling in Greece, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iran, she learned a great deal about these countries and their cultures and histories and politics. But the greatest, most unsettling surprise would be what she learned about her own country--and herself, an American abroad in the era of American decline. It would take leaving her home to discover what she came to think of as the two Americas: the country and its people, and the experience of American power around the world. She came to understand that anti-Americanism is not a violent pathology. It is, Hansen writes, "a broken heart . . . A one-hundred-year-old relationship."

Blending memoir, journalism, and history, and deeply attuned to the voices of those she met on her travels, Notes on a Foreign Country is a moving reflection on America's place in the world. It is a powerful journey of self-discovery and revelation--a profound reckoning with what it means to be American in a moment of grave national and global turmoil.

About the Author

Suzy Hansen is contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and has written for many other publications. In 2007, she was awarded a fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs to do research in Turkey. She currently lives in Istanbul. Notes on a Foreign Country is her first book.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780374280048
ISBN-10: 0374280045
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: August 15th, 2017
Pages: 288
Language: English