Not like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture since World War II

Not like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture since World War II

Not like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture since World War II

Not like Us: How Europeans Have Loved, Hated, and Transformed American Culture since World War II

Synopsis

Debunking the myth of the 'Americanisation' of Europe, Pells presents an engrossing cultural history of how America tried to remake Europe in its own image, and how the Europeans successfully retained their own identity.

Excerpt

Early on a frigid morning in January 1979, I arrived in Amsterdam. For years, I had fantasized about living in a foreign culture. Now I was in Europe for the first time in my life, on the brink of an adventure in a strange land with strange customs, knowing no one, unable to speak the language, not sure what I was supposed to do or how I would be expected to behave.

I had departed Austin--a place filled with friends and familiar sights, my home for nearly a decade--the previous afternoon and had flown all night from Houston. I disembarked at Schiphol, an airport noted for its modernity and efficiency but not for any qualities that might be described as exotically Dutch. My instructions were to take an airport bus to the KLM terminal on the Museumplein, and then a taxi to the Fulbright Commission office on Reguliersgracht. At first, gazing out the window of the taxi at the bright yellow trams and the bridges spanning the quaint canals, I felt that I was indeed no longer in America, a country where streetcars were abolished ages ago and any surviving canals would have been considered an obstacle to urban progress. But then, as we sped past the gabled houses of seventeenth- century Amsterdam, the taxi driver switched on the radio, and I heard the voice of . . . Willie Nelson. I had just traveled ten hours and thousands of miles, crossing an ocean and landing on a different continent, only to discover that I had not left America or even Austin behind.

At that moment, I was looking at one culture while listening to another. The juxtaposition of Europe's sights and America's sounds . . .

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