America Through Foreign Eyes: Classic Interpretations of American Political Life


163 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-19-541229-X
DDC 973




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, and Chile and the Nazis, and the coauthor of Invisible and
Inaudible in Washington: American Policies To


Stephen Brooks, who teaches political science at the University of
Windsor, is certainly knowledgeable about the United States. His essays
confirm that. For this work, he has chosen five other people who are not
citizens of the United States—two French (Alexis de Tocqueville,
Simone de Beauvoir), two British (James Bryce, Harold J. Laski), and one
Swede (Gunnar Myrdahl)—as objects of his study. Their works, all
classics, have withstood the test of time and need not be reviewed here.
What Brooks offers in this book is an essay on each and the context in
which he or she wrote, a selection of each author’s writings, and a
bibliography on each.

Brooks and his subjects have been able to observe the best and the
worst of the contemporary United States, undoubtedly from a perspective
unavailable to Americans—who might take their situation for granted.
Especially in this era of George W. Bush—who seems to think that the
United States is the world’s closest approximation to perfection and
that Americans have little to learn from others—it is to be hoped that
this book will have a substantial readership inside the United States.
Even if it does not, the rest of us can match wits with some of the most
esteemed foreign observers, see our own thoughts confirmed or
challenged, appreciate what is good in America, note improvements since
the five wrote (between 1835 and 1948), and have some sense of what
appears to be incorrigible.


Brooks, Stephen., “America Through Foreign Eyes: Classic Interpretations of American Political Life,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024,