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Reviews

Animal Farm

Martin Fletcher worked seven years as a Washington, D.C., correspondent for the London Times. Before returning to Britain, he packed up a car and hit the road for a five-month journey that started in Virginia and ended in Seattle. After years of writing about politics in Washington, Fletcher "resolved to take time off to explore this overlooked land more deeply, to travel far beyond the famous sights and cities in search of this little-known America." Along the way, he gathered enough material to write a book.

When a European writes a book about rural America, you can bet it will feature detailed accounts of the nutty inhabitants of the hinterlands flanked by New York and Los Angeles. To the European mind, America is a giant freak show, overrun by philistines, inbreds, and gun-lovers. Like busy little worker ants, Europeans are building a bureaucratic superstate that has very little room for the backward notions of individualism and freedom that many Americans still treasure. Of course, these cultural differences cut both ways. Unlike the French, most Americans are not attracted by the scent of unwashed armpit, and unlike Englishmen, most American men still prefer women over sheep.

Fletcher observes enough Americana to delight the legions of Europe-builders in Brussels. He tracks moonshiners. He attends a church service where parishioners handle poisonous snakes and drink strychnine. He interviews UFO...

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