Tag Archives: America

What Foreigners Need to Know About America From A to Z

What Foreigners Need to Know About America From A to Z: How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More

Title: What Foreigners Need to Know About America From A to Z
Author: Lance Johnson
Publisher: A to Z Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-468172362

“In 1970, one in twenty Americans was from a foreign country; today, one in nine,” world-traveled author Lance Johnson writes in the beginning of his book, What Foreigners Need to Know About America From A to Z – How to Understand Crazy American Culture, People, Government, Business, Language and More.

This volume expands five hundred and ninety-two pages in its paperback format that is available through Amazon.com in eight countries besides the United States. Several small but clear photographs are among its many chapters, along with charts, bullet points, hints and forms. In addition to four main sections that have chapter titles based on the alphabet but confusingly do not correlate with the letter, there is a fifteen page appendix which includes a one hundred question U.S. history government quiz and a twenty-three page extensive index.

Before the start of the sections, author Johnson touts the manual was written after visiting forty-nine states in America and eighty-one countries which he describes in the ten pages, complete with photographs of him at different destinations. The four sections are divided into America’s heritage, culture, business and language with each section expounding on subtitles and then further topic breakdowns.

For example, the section on culture uses the letter H through T, covering almost two hundred and fifty pages with sub-topics listed as customs and etiquette, education, relationships, literature, film, art, sports, food and dining, dress and appearance, media, holidays and traditions, what Americans think and what foreigners think about America. Under the detailed breakdown of a sub-topic such as dress and appearance are dressing tips for foreigners, dressing styles, magazines, clothing sizes and foreign heritage designers.

With that minutiae stated, one can read about the white or blue collar worker, our factory outlet malls, what loafers are, GQ being the ultimate men’s magazine, the comparison sizes of men and women’s clothing between America verses Asia, Europe and the U.K. or what our First Lady, Michelle Obama, prefers to wear and the clothing’s designer.

Thus, a foreigner or even an American citizen can learn a brief synopsis about anything from Rhode Island having thirty-eight senators and seventy-five state representatives with no term limits, Southerners placing less emphasis on the clock or Georgia O’Keefe’s Shell painting, to Toyota’s organizational problem in the U.S., twenty five of the most frequently used adjectives or sixteen good speaking tips.

Johnson must have taken decades to compile such intricacies and details as he accumulated data and information during his numerous adventures around the globe. With this easy to read but way too much information given at a time, this simple yet plethora of material boggles the mind. Flip nonchalantly through the pages and one will be amazed what is gleaned and hopefully retained for any foreigner or ourselves to better understand America’s country, culture, people and language.

This book was furnished by the publicist in exchange for the reader’s honest opinion.

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Non-Fiction

My Life in America – Before, During and After the Civil War

Title: My Life in America ~ Before, During and After the Civil WarMy Life in America Before, During and After the Civil War: Includes Meeting President Abraham Lincoln
Author: Louis Hensel
Translator: Sigrid Wilshinsky
Publisher: Jo-An Books
ISBN: 13 978-1-890719-13-5

“Well, when I want to do something I usually make it happen, if possible,” wrote German-born Louis Hensel in his translated memoir, My Life in America – Before, During and After the Civil War. In reading this adventurous man’s life story, he did indeed accomplish so much in his ninety-one years on this earth.

At three hundred and fifty pages, this paperback book has an old black and white photograph of a uniformed American soldier posing on a horse on the front cover. The back cover has a paragraph about Hensel and a note by translator Wilshinksy. There are a few family photographs included inside. The book is geared to anyone interested in reading about the people, land and culture in America from the mid-nineteenth century to the early nineteen hundreds.

Louis Hensel was an opportunistic, stubborn risk-taker and lover of art, music and nature who wrote letters during the last eleven years of his life of his worldly escapades to his long lost daughter that he had not seen since she was a baby and grand-daughter he never met. Although he was born in Germany and had a child there, he ended up in America with a wife and two children that apparently did not know of his past life. The letters detailed his varied vocations of sculpture/artist, musician/music teacher, horse trainer/instructor, farmer, and long-time opera set designer, choir singer and actor as he crisscrossed across the America’s northern and southern states several times.

With his love for the natural world, he wrote in depth stories of crossing the frozen Hudson River, riding the steamboat down the sandy Mississippi River, hunting the South’s swamplands filled with banana trees and deadly snakes, and tending the fields and farms of New York and Pennsylvania. When he visited Niagara Falls, he penned, “I was overcome by a wondrous feeling; it is hard to put into words – I saw women cry – not from pain or fear – No! – But from an overpowering feeling of response to seeing wonders of God and nature.”

In addition to recanting by name his beloved horses, dogs, cows and pets, telling purchases, nuances and outcomes of each, he stated his opinions not only of the Civil War where he was a riding instructor but also on other countries’ conflicts during his lifetime. He explained his accidental visit to the White House where he met President Lincoln and was misconstrued as a translator, his peace pipe talk with an Indian chief and every one of the operas he performed and helped produced at each city played.

His unusual brushes with death happened often; his easy-going gypsy lifestyle apart from his family were adventurous but lonely; and his acceptance toward the end of his life that he was old and ready to die showed his longing to be at peace with both man and God.

Although there is some repetition in the letters, this is a delightful read that anyone who is interested in America’s past can enjoy, told through the eyes of a dear, old but young at heart German man.

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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Filed under ***** Great - A Keeper, If You Borrow It, Give It Back!, Biography, Non-Fiction

The American Panorama

Title: The American Panorama
Author: Michael H. Collins
Publisher: Outskirts Press
ISBN: 978-1-4327-4533-2

Have you ever wondered how geography affects United States history and culture or why there are so many religions in America or even what are the main causes of crime in the country? Michael H. Collins has written a huge book titled The American Panorama that not only tries to answer these questions but a plethora of more concepts, ideas and nuances of America.

This voluminous nine hundred and three page paperback was originally designed for overseas students in Beijing taking classes to learn about America’s social, cultural and political issues. Written from an outside perspective of the United States, it is broken down into twelve chapters covering topics ranging from territorial lands, peoples, government, and economy to education, media, character, religion, the arts and world alliances. It includes questions for reflection and discussion, an extensive biography and sources section along with over one hundred page index. The largest chapters are on the economic system/social security and the arts/literature with the smallest chapters on the American character and cultural debates/social problems and solutions.

Collins divides each subject topic methodically, discussing the history of the past and how it is apropos in today’s culture in America. If it is about migration or segregation in the chapter about regions and cities, it lists population charts, place name origins and protecting the environment. The chapter on religion not only gives detailed history of explanations of American denominations such as Mormonism, Pentecostalism and Southern Baptists, but tabulates church membership, mention famous Christians such as Billy Graham, Tim LaHaye and James Dobson and mega-churches along with televangelists. In the chapter on the arts, television shows such as Guiding Light and The Simpsons are explained, art museums along with movie ratings are listed, and writings of Tennessee Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck are discussed. No cultural stone is unturned.

Need to know that there are over fourteen hundred American newspapers but eighty-five percent of those only have fifty thousand readers daily? Or that twenty-six percent of American households are now single, living alone? Or that it costs as much as $150,000 for a six year prison term treatment program? Or that there were over two hundred thousand female military personnel enlisted in May 2009? The facts go on and on, available at every turn of the page.

To cover the myriad of topics from Thomas Jefferson, John F Kennedy or Henry Kissinger to GPS, NASA, robotics, reality TV or current divorce percentages would make this review extremely lengthy. For anyone who wants to know more minutiae about the United States, this is a perfect, well-rounded, well-researched source of reliable, dependable and abundant information about America.

 

This review will also be posted on http://www.bookpleasures.com and http://www.amazon.com.

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Filed under **** Good - Will Be Glad to Pass On to Others, Non-Fiction