Stranger in a Strange Land

Encounters in the Disunited States

With a sharp pencil, and a sharper eye, our protagonist shades the contours of a fractured nation

“Before I came to America from England, I asked an American journalist in London what kind of reactions to expect. ‘Well, when they hear an English accent Americans usually add twenty points to your IQ,’ he replied. Recalling that the authors of The Bell Curve had claimed that black people have an IQ fifteen points lower than whites, I was heartened to think that even in the eyes of the most hardened racist I would still come out five points ahead.” —from Stranger in a Strange Land

Black, opinionated, and with a distinctly working-class London accent, Gary Younge is not your typical foreign correspondent. Yet, in three years as The Guardian newspaper’s New York correspondent, Younge has acquired a transatlantic reputation as one of the most thoughtful commentators on contemporary America. Combining insight and panache, he has precisely captured the intricacies of a nation perplexed at its growing isolation from the rest of the world and often bitterly divided against itself.

In these pages we listen in on expansive discussions with, among others, Warren Beatty, Michael Moore, Louis Farrakhan, Susan Sontag, and Maya Angelou. We take the stage with an extravagantly attired drag queen in John Ashcroft’s hometown, join the dinner table of a fundamentalist Republican who has just lost his son in the Iraq war, and ride a bus with a group of Guatemalan strawberry pickers on a latter-day Freedom Ride to Washington, D.C. Throughout we are in the company of a guide whose restless curiosity is framed with sharp political intelligence.

Praise

“Gary Younge is an excellent journalist—a critical writer at a critical time.”
—Andrea Levy
“Forthright, sane, measured, and vivid, Younge sees both England and America with a kind of hard-edged clarity that impresses me to no end.”
—Jonathan Raban