The Angry Island: Hunting the English

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Think of England, and anger hardly springs to mind as its primary national characteristic. Yet in The Angry Island, A. A. Gill argues that, in fact, it is plain old fury that is the wellspring for England's accomplishments.

The default setting of England is anger. The English are naturally, congenitally, collectively and singularly livid much of the time. They're incensed, incandescent, splenetic, prickly, touchy, and fractious. They can be mildly annoyed, really annoyed and, most scarily, not remotely annoyed. They sit apart on their half of a damply disappointing little island, nursing and picking at their irritations. The English itch inside their own skins. They feel foreign in their own country and run naked through their own heads.

Perhaps aware that they're living on top of a keg of fulminating fury, the English have, throughout their history, come up with hundreds of ingenious and bizarre ways to diffuse anger or transform it into something benign. Good manners and queues, cul-de-sacs and garden sheds, and almost every game ever invented from tennis to bridge. They've built things, discovered stuff, made puddings, written hymns and novels, and for people who don't like to talk much, they have come up with the most minutely nuanced and replete language ever spoken -- just so there'll be no misunderstandings.

The Angry Island by turns attacks and praises the English, bringing up numerous points of debate for Anglophiles and anyone who wonders about the origins of national identity. This book hunts down the causes and the results of being the Angry Island.
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About the author

A.A. Gill was born in Edinburgh, but has lived in London for most of his life. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

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3.9
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jun 12, 2007
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9781416545606
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / Great Britain / General
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Social Science / Customs & Traditions
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A celebrated British provocateur and Vanity Fair columnist serves up an “immensely entertaining book inspired by his love and knowledge of America” (Sunday Times, London).

IN TO AMERICA WITH LOVE, celebrated British provocateur and Vanity Fair colum­nist A. A. Gill traverses the Atlantic to become the freshest chronicler of American identity in recent memory. With a fiery temper, a sharp-tongued wit, and an insatiable curiosity to figure out what makes more than 300 million of the world’s population tick, Gill traces the history and logic of our nation’s habits, collecting wild stories and startling facts along the way. From Colorado, where he meets a local vegeta­tion expert and learns which flowers were in Poca­hontas’s nuptial bouquet, to Kentucky, where he visits the Creationist Museum and drinks moonshine with a hog farmer, and to Harlem, where he misses a turn and stumbles into the wrong barbershop for a once-in-a-lifetime haircut, Gill embarks on a tour of not only the nation’s landscape but also its psyche, playing adventurer, philosopher, statistician, and raconteur all at once. In inimitable fashion he explains why pressing a button in a Manhattan elevator means entering a social contract of American etiquette and inverting conventional hierarchies of space; why browsing through Playboy centerfolds becomes the perfect litmus test for a generation’s political views; and how Hollywood is the metaphysical marketplace for movies, the place where Americans are sold on American romance and taught how to dream the American dream.

Weaving together a tapestry of historical erudition and outrageous anecdotes, Gill ultimately captures the scope and spirit of a nation that started off as a conceptual experiment and became a political, sci­entific, and cultural fortress. This humorous and revelatory book shows us why we are who we are by transforming ordinary experiences into extraordinary lessons and promising to never let us look in the mirror the same way again.
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