"The Eagle's Shadow" is an exploration of the American mindset. In his attempt to get under the skin of the Janus face of America, Mark Hertsgaard uses a breadth of opinion and reference, from the expected - de Tocqueville, de Beauvoir, Santayana - to the surprising - Beach Boys and Elvis Costello. The Chinese outnumber Americans five to one, but each of those Americans consumes 53 times more goods and services. If all six billion people on the planet adopted the US lifestyle, we'd need four Earths to provide all the necessary raw materials. According to one poll, the majority of Americans think Israel is an Arab country, which perhaps explains why public opinion has had little effect on foreign policy. Hertsgaard intends his book to be a starting point, a talking point and a clarion call for a different, more responsible kind of global engagement. How can America be so powerful and yet so innocent? So ignorant of foreign lands, peoples and languages, yet so certain it knows what's best for everyone? How can its individual citizens be so open, friendly and generous but its foreign policy so arrogant and domineering?
And why is it shocked when the objects of its policies grumble, protest or even strike back in anger? How can a nation so clever at business and selling its products overseas be so oblivious to how outsiders regard it? The answers to these and many other questions will explain why America leaves so many observers at home and abroad both admiring and uneasy, envious and appalled, enchanted but bewildered. And what are the choices and challenges facing us in a world that becomes more Americanized every day?
Mark Hertsgaard is an American journalist, author and broadcaster. He is the author of Earth Odyssey: Around the World in Search of Our Environmental Future, A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of the Beatles and On Bended Knee: The Press and the Reagan Presidency. His journalism has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, The New York Times, and many other publications, and he is a regular contributor to National Public Radio. He lives in San Francisco.