American Myths: What Canadians Think They Know about the United States

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Rudyard Griffiths
Key Porter Books, 2008 - Political Science - 213 pages
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Geography dictates that Canadians share a continent with the only global superpower; naturally, we are wary. Yet centuries of interaction have led Canadians and Americans to talk, trade, fight as allies, intermarry, and immigrate to each other‚€™s territory. As a result, we believe we intuitively understand our neighbours and often proclaim that we ‚€œget‚€ the U.S. better than anyone else.

But Canadians cherish ideas‚€”even myths‚€”about Americans that may not be true. Many would argue that Americans are warlike, while Canadians are the world‚€™s peacekeepers; that Canada is a beacon of social-welfare innovation, while America is a regressive and uncaring state; that America‚€™s ethnic melting pot is hidebound and discriminatory, while Canada is the enlightened and tolerant nation in North America.

How appropriate is this conventional wisdom? Do we truly understand Americans, or have our internal political battles and insecurities led to a distorted perception of our neighbour to the south? How do our myths about the United States affect the relationship between the two nations?

Comprising 15 essays,American Myths offers a wide-ranging look at the perceptions and preconceptions Canadians have about their neighbours to the south. Intelligent, thought-provoking, and often polarizing,American Myths issues a challenge to Canadian readers: strive to better understand who we are, or run the risk of defining ourselves simply in opposition to the U.S. It is required reading for anyone interested in this country‚€™s future.

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