Item description for Alleluia America!: An Irish Journalist in Bush Country by Carole...
An Irish journalist chronicles her trip around the red states,"" of the US to try to uncover the connection between old time religion and the policies and supporters of Mr. Bush, a connection that astounds and mystifies Europeans.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.13" Width: 6.06" Height: 0.87" Weight: 0.71 lbs.
Release Date Mar 20, 2006
Publisher The Liffey Press
ISBN 190414876X ISBN13 9781904148760
Reviews - What do customers think about Alleluia America!: An Irish Journalist in Bush Country?
A Hundred Thousand Welcomes Aug 26, 2007
I came across this book on a recent vacation in Ireland and, remembering the brouhaha over the interview, picked it up to read. As I was an American over in Ireland trying to get a sense of that country, it seemed somehow appropriate to read about an Irish citizen set to a similar task in the US.
Overall, I enjoyed the book very much. Coming from the 'Blue America' she describes, her explorations of 'Red America' offered me useful insights to my own country. She gamely tries to go there with an open, objective approach though the occasional sarcastic remark does reveal her filter. She rather courageously goes places where her outsider status posed some risk to herself, if not in actuality than in her perception, which amounts to the same thing. For example, going to 'redneck' country (the NASCAR chapter) and to visit fundamentalist Mormon country I thought was particularly brave of her and were the best parts of the book. What strongly comes across from her personal conversations with individuals who were so different from her was their sincerity, something that seemed to surprise her. But there was the one question that begged to be explored more deeply with the people she visited was, the answer to which is what truly separates people into Blue and Red columns. That question was: how does a country made up of a great many diverse religious, cultural, and ethnic groups, make itself one nation? For many of the groups she visited, particularly the evangelical groups, the answer was that the other groups should be made to be like us or else. And while 'or else' runs a broad spectrum, it does not include acceptance of differences. To her defense, she was already taking no small amount of risk just by the questions she did ask and that one may have been too much.
Interesting (Yet Unpolished) View from Abroad May 30, 2007
"Alleluia America!: An Irish Journalist in Bush Country" is an enjoyable, if not groundbreaking, collection of scattered tales from across these United States. Coleman, an Irish citizen, recounts her experiences travelling across the country on field trips brought about by her desire to learn more about the quirkier side of conservative American life. She writes in the typical Irish style -- be prepared for erratic punctuation and lengthy, rambling sentences -- and adds a bit of humor to each story in order to help move things along.
Although the book opens with Bush and the Iraq War, it quickly moves on to religious fundamentalism in its various forms. She deals primarily with conservative Protestant denominations, but also describes her visits to a mosque, a synogogue, Lancaster County (or "Amish Country"), and other places of interest. For some reason, she throws in a side trip to Mexico, and though she does valiantly attempt to show the connection between American and Mexican life and politics, her efforts fall flat. However, her writing style makes the reading enjoyable enough for you to follow through.
It's important to note that, if you are an American or have lived here for any decent amount of time, there is almost nothing in this book that will be of news to you. "Alleluia America!" was clearly written to introduce certain aspects of American life to readers abroad. Most of the topics Coleman covers are elementary to Americans, and as a result, her lengthy descriptions can periodically become tiresome. (Feel free to skim the remedial definitions of the evangelical movement and the "War on Terrorism," as two examples.) Rather than the facts, what is interesting to the American reader is the viewpoint of a foreigner amongst us, which is what makes the book one that can give you some new knowledge, even if most of the topics are subjects you're quite familiar with already.
What I had a trouble figuring out about "Alleluia America!" is the overall theme Coleman was trying to follow. It tries to be a book about Bush's policies, evangelical Christians, and American culture all at once -- which should be easy enough to accomplish -- but Coleman doesn't have the control to pull it off. You move from one chapter to the next trying to determine what the connection between the topics was in the author's eyes. As I discovered about halfway through, it works best if approached as a collection of essays, not a traditional cover-to-cover non-fiction work.
Additionally, Coleman or her editor repeatedly commit one of the worst sins of writing, that being some very sloppy editing. George W. Bush's wife becomes Laura Welsh, not Welch; cities in Utah and Texas are renamed Hilldale (from Hildale) and El Dorado (from Eldorado); the Weather Channel loses its proper noun status; some driver named Kasey "Khane" joins the NASCAR circuit; and on it goes. (Coleman seems to have it out for last names in particular.) There are enough mistakes that it begins to make it seem that our author should not be trusted for her facts, because she clearly isn't totally up to speed with them. If she can't get the town names on the "Welcome to..." signs she's describing correct, what else is off?
In all, "Alleluia America!" is a good book to read in one sitting on a weekend, particularly if you want a primer on how Europeans view American culture. All criticisms aside, Coleman did a decent job, and the book is worth a shot for most readers. If you are looking for political commentary, in-depth information, consistency, or pretty much anything the back cover suggests you'll find inside, however, try somewhere else first.
Excellent commentary on conservative America Jun 19, 2006
I read this book back in December on the plane. It was an excellent commentary on conservative America. As an American living abroad, it is interesting to see how Americans are perceived and I often wondered how Bush got elected the second time. Now I understand that better.
I didn't see the original interview but would agree that it was far from a disaster. America needs more journalists that ask real questions instead of the preapproved ones.
A very interesting insight! Mar 28, 2006
The idea behind this review is two-fold, one to review the book itself and secondly to comment on the K.Larson review below.
Firstly, the book, in my opinion starts off at a startling pace as she interviews George Bush in a ten minute window and rather than peddle The White House line, she asks the questions that the majority of Irish people wished her to ask. It did her no favours as we are told that not to play ball with the White Houses' questioning is possibly a bad career move, no matter how brave.
The rest of the book shows Coleman meandering through the country attempting to uncover the `real' America, rather than that which the majority of the rest of the world would see - skyscrapers, home of the great American dream etc.. America is shown for what I now believe it to be - a world within a country - with varying opinions, beliefs and thoughts all rolled under the one flag. Some of the writings of Coleman are genuinely funny, some bewildering, but overall I found the whole book extremely engaging and educational as it showed as I said, a different side to this vast country.
Secondly, in relation to K Larson's review I would just like to point out two things. I want to stress that I do not intend to be either pedantic or offensive but two things must be explained. When Larson refers in the second half of his review to "Like another Brit...", I've got to explain that Coleman is IRISH and is not British. Britain comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is a completely different and independent country. This is something that Irish people hear the odd time but it would be like if we lumped all Canadians and Americans as one and the same! It can be frustrating to hear it.
Secondly, when Larson refers to the interview as `near disastrous', I would like to explain that in Ireland, and a number of other areas where the interview with President Bush was shown, the interview was considered far from `disastrous' and in fact she was lauded for standing up for her beliefs in journalism.
Overall, I do not want, as I stressed, to appear nit picking but if one person learns something from this, then that'll make this review justified. Oh and read the book - its a good one!
amateur historian/sociologist Mar 24, 2006
As an amateur historian/sociologist, I really enjoyed reading this book and seeing my country through an outsider's eyes. Coleman shows Americans to be both quirky and serious in their attitudes toward politics and religion.
After an semi-disastrous interview with George Bush for Irish TV, Carol Coleman traveled America's red states to see how religion, or at least religious language has overtaken politics and how politicians have learned to take advantage of the natural religious inclinations of Americans. Coleman's book put me in mind of Alexis de Toqueville, a Frenchman who traveled America in the 1800s to see how democracy worked.
Like another Brit, Englishwoman Frances Trollope who wrote a scathing book about America's manners in the 1800s, Coleman keeps her distance as she sheds light on an American phenomenon that non-religious Europeans probably find fascinating and perplexing. Coleman's observations on American's regional and religious attitudes are funny and insightful and "Alleluia America" could go on to become a required read for future American historians.