Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada, and the Myth of Converging Values


224 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-14-301423-4
DDC 303.48'271073




Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


Canadians and Americans have increasingly less in common. In drawing
this conclusion, Adams—a pollster who is also president of
Environics—disagrees with such earlier pundits as Michael Bliss and
Jeffrey Simpson.

Adams describes his book as “the story of social change in North
America based on three snapshot surveys in the United States and Canada
over the past decade.” The surveys took place in 1992, 1996, and 2000.
Fully aware that neither country is monolithic, Adams argues that (i)
residents of the United States appear increasingly more religious than
Canadians or Europeans, and considerably less tolerant of those who do
not share their political values; (ii) Americans are increasingly
accepting of paternal authority at home, while the trend in Canada is in
the opposite direction (“Americans are more predisposed to male
chauvinism, and here again the gap is widening”); (iii) an increasing
number of Americans fears violence in daily life, while a smaller and
declining portion of Canadians agrees; (iv) Americans are more willing
than Canadians to take risks; (v) Americans dress more formally than
Canadians and are less tolerant of nonconformists; (vi) Canadians favour
a larger role for government than do Americans and are more likely to
compromise; (vii) since Ronald Reagan became president of the United
States, the gap between rich and poor has widened significantly, but in
Canada it has remained fairly stable; (viii) almost two-thirds of
Americans but fewer than 50 percent of Canadians are overweight; (ix)
almost twice as many Americans as Canadians disapprove of non-European
immigration; (x) Canadians prefer minivans to SUVs by a margin of 2:1
(among Americans, the numbers are reversed). Canadian prime ministers
usually come from Quebec, American presidents from the former slave
states. Moreover, the rhetoric of George W. Bush and his obvious
indifference to the “friendly fire” in Afghanistan that killed four
Canadian soldiers and wounded eight others has had a negative effect on
Canadians, who felt deeply sympathetic to Americans on September 11.
Charts, cartoons, and an index enhance the book’s clarity and utility.


Adams, Michael., “Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada, and the Myth of Converging Values,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 20, 2024,