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Political Science Essays

American Myths

What Canadians Think They Know about the United States

by (author) Rudyard Griffiths

Key Porter Books
Initial publish date
Apr 2008
Essays, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2008
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Geography dictates that Canadians share a continent with the only global superpower; naturally, we are wary. Yet centuries of interaction have led Canadians and Americans to talk, trade, fight as allies, intermarry, and immigrate to each other's territory. As a result, we believe we intuitively understand our neighbours and often proclaim that we “get” the U.S. better than anyone else.
But Canadians cherish ideas?even myths?about Americans that may not be true. Many would argue that Americans are warlike, while Canadians are the world's peacekeepers; that Canada is a beacon of social-welfare innovation, while America is a regressive and uncaring state; that America's ethnic melting pot is hidebound and discriminatory, while Canada is the enlightened and tolerant nation in North America.
How appropriate is this conventional wisdom” Do we truly understand Americans, or have our internal political battles and insecurities led to a distorted perception of our neighbour to the south” How do our myths about the United States affect the relationship between the two nations”
Comprising 15 essays, American Myths offers a wide-ranging look at the perceptions and preconceptions Canadians have about their neighbours to the south. Intelligent, thought-provoking, and often polarizing, American Myths issues a challenge to Canadian readers: strive to better understand who we are, or run the risk of defining ourselves simply in opposition to the U.S. It is required reading for anyone interested in this country's future.

About the author

Rudyard Griffiths is the co-organizer and moderator of The Munk Debates. He is also the co-founder of the Dominion Institute and the co-director of the Grano Speakers Series. His writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including a bi-monthly column for the National Post. He is the author of Who We Are: A Citizen's Manifesto. He serves on the boards of the Stratford Festival, the Empire Club, and the Canadian Institute for Citizenship. In 2006, he was recognized by the Globe and Mail as one of Canada's "Top 40 under 40." He lives in Toronto.

Rudyard Griffiths' profile page

Other titles by Rudyard Griffiths