Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Notes on a Foreign Country

Notes on a Foreign Country

An American Abroad in a Post-American World

Suzy Hansen

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

READ AN EXCERPT →

BUY THE BOOK

Hardcover

"Her long stay in Istanbul (she’s still there) gives her an outsider’s vantage on myopic American arrogance that is bracing." Ann Hulbert, The Atlantic

In the wake of the September 11 attacks and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Suzy Hansen, who grew up in an insular conservative town in New Jersey, was enjoying early success as a journalist for a high-profile New York newspaper. Increasingly, though, the disconnect between the chaos of world events and the response at home took on pressing urgency for her. Seeking to understand the Muslim world that had been reduced to scaremongering headlines, she moved to Istanbul.

Hansen arrived in Istanbul with romantic ideas about a mythical city perched between East and West, and with a naïve sense of the Islamic world beyond. Over the course of her many years of living in Turkey and traveling in Greece, Egypt, Afghanistan, and Iran, she learned a great deal about these countries and their cultures and histories and politics. But the greatest, most unsettling surprise would be what she learned about her own country—and herself, an American abroad in the era of American decline. It would take leaving her home to discover what she came to think of as the two Americas: the country and its people, and the experience of American power around the world. She came to understand that anti-Americanism is not a violent pathology. It is, Hansen writes, “a broken heart . . . A one-hundred-year-old relationship.”

Blending memoir, journalism, and history, and deeply attuned to the voices of those she met on her travels, Notes on a Foreign Country is a moving reflection on America’s place in the world. It is a powerful journey of self-discovery and revelation—a profound reckoning with what it means to be American in a moment of grave national and global turmoil.

EXCERPT

INTRODUCTION


It is still not clear if the United States—a country formed in great measure by those who have themselves escaped vast catastrophes, famines, dictatorships, persecution—it is far from certain that the men and women of...

Reviews

Praise for Notes on a Foreign Country

"Searching and searing . . . [Suzy Hansen] combines a brisk history of America’s anguished intervention in the region; artful reporting on how citizens in Turkey and its neighbors view the United States today; and unsparing self-reflection to explain how she, an Ivy League-educated journalist, could be so ignorant of the extent of her country’s role in remaking the post-World War II world . . . Notes on a Foreign Country is a testament to one journalist’s courage in digging deep within herself to understand the real story and to make sure she gets it right." —Barbara Spindel, The Christian Science Monitor

"Hansen turns a coming-of-age travelogue into a geopolitical memoir of sorts, without sacrificing personal urgency in the process . . . Her long stay in Istanbul (she’s still there) gives her an outsider’s vantage on myopic American arrogance that is bracing. And her fascinating insider’s view of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rise upends Western simplicities . . .The experience is contagious." —Ann Hulbert, The Atlantic

“Hansen’s must-read book makes the argument that Americans, specifically white Americans, are decades overdue in examining and accepting their country’s imperial identity . . . Hansen builds her winning argument by combining personal examination and observation with geopolitical history lessons. She is a fearless patriot, and this is a book for the brave.” —Emily Dziuban, Booklist (starred review)

“Lucid, reflective, probing, and poetic, Hansen’s book is also a searing critique of the ugly depths of American ignorance, made more dangerous because the declining U.S. imperial system coincides with decay at home. The book is a revelatory indictment of American policy both domestic and foreign, made gripping by Hansen’s confident . . . distillation of complicated historical processes and her detailed, evocative descriptions of places, people, and experiences most American audiences can’t imagine.” —Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

“To be an American is of itself, George Santayana once wrote, a moral condition and education. Notes on a Foreign Country embraces this fate with a unique blend of passionate honesty, coruscating insight, and tenderness. A book of extraordinary power, it achieves something very rare: it opens up new ways of thinking and feeling.” —Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger

“Suzy Hansen’s Notes on a Foreign Country is an essential, compelling read of an American woman’s coming of age and her experience abroad. Hansen describes how her own narrative of the United States’ role in geopolitics began to unravel only once she stepped out of her insular life in New York and into the unfamiliar world of Istanbul. With colorful anecdotes, observations, and telling interviews, Hansen seamlessly weaves together the complex fabric of Turkish society, and with that presents a fresh look at the United States and the perceptions abroad of its foreign policy and of its people.” —Lynsey Addario, photographer and the
author of It’s What I Do

“It is rare to come across an American writer who has moved through the world—especially the Islamic world—with the acute self-awareness and thoughtfulness of Suzy Hansen. She has deftly blended memoir, reportage, and history to produce a book of great beauty and intellectual rigor. Everybody interested in America and the Middle East must read it.” —Basharat Peer, author of A Question of Order

Notes On a Foreign Country is at once a kaleidoscopic look at modern Turkey, a meditation on American identity in an age of American decline, and a gripping intellectual bildungsroman. I’m in awe of this wise, coruscating book.” —Michelle Goldberg, author of The Goddess Pose

“It’s really quite simple: if you have any interest at all in how the non-Western world views America and Americans, you must read Suzy Hansen’s beautifully composed memoir Notes on a Foreign Country. And when America’s leaders complain—while campaigning and in office—that there is “great hatred” for the U.S. (and that they want to get to the bottom of it), it should be required reading by government officials—all the way to the Oval Office.” —Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Suzy Hansen

Suzy Hansen is contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine and has written for many other publications. In 2007, she was awarded a fellowship from the Institute of Current World Affairs to do research in Turkey. She currently lives in Istanbul. Notes on a Foreign Country is her first book.

Suzy Hansen

Kathy Ryan

Tours & Events

Meet the Author

August 16, 2017

Meet Suzy Hansen as she reads from her new book Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World.

READ THE FULL EXCERPT →

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Latest on Facebook

LATEST ON TWITTER