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Fire and Ice: The United States Canada And The Myth Of Converging Values Paperback – Apr 14 2009
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Long before 9-11, Americans were changing. Their values were becoming more socially conservative, their waistlines were getting rounder, and they were more deferential to authority figures. Meanwhile, an opposite trend took root north of the border. Canadians were becoming more tolerant, open to risk, and questioning of the institutions that governed them. How is it that traditionally individualistic Americans have suddenly switched places with order-loving Canadians? Michael Adams, president of the Environics polling firm, tries to answer this question and probe the diverging values of Americans and Canadians in his book Fire and Ice.
Adams acknowledges his thesis is rather iconoclastic. Some commentators have suggested that Canadians have become simply Americans in parkas. But after 14,413 interviews over 10 years, Adams surprised even himself with his results: Canadians and Americans are not only becoming more dissimilar, they are also reversing roles, and the diverging trends have only increased since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Adams tested Canadians and Americans on over 100 values. He found that a growing number of Americans believes that "the father of the family must be master in his own home" (49 percent in 2000, up from 44 percent in 1996 and 42 percent in 1992). In Canada, fewer people agree that father knows best (18 percent in 2000, down from 26 percent in 1992). Canadians are increasingly bigger risk-takers, too. In 2000, 42 percent of Canadians and 54 percent of Americans said they did not like changing their habits. More Americans believe men are naturally superior to women, and fully 44 percent of Americans said they relate best to people who do not show emotions (compared to 30 percent of Canadians). Adams's book is heavy on statistics and light on explanations behind the trends, but it gives revealing insights into the world's only superpower and its neighbour to the north. --Alex Roslin --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Michael Adams is president of the Environics group of marketing research and communications consulting companies with offices in the United States and Canada. He has written three bestselling books, including Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values, which won the prestigious 2004 Donner Prize for the best book on public policy in Canada.
Top Customer Reviews
This is not a ponderous volume of statistics, but a quirky, quick read, that leaves one with a lot to think about.
This book was obviously aimed at the Canadian reader, and I hope he releases a updated version for the American audience when the 2004 figures have been compiled. But you can just skip over some of the Canada-specific references, and the long suffering pose of submission but inherent superiority to the U.S.. It IS enlightening to see the U.S. through Canadian eyes.
There are some interesting insights to George W's presidency, the debate over same sex marriages, and a discussion of the regional differences in the U.S., and implications for the future.
I was surprised to learn that Canada has more in common with New England than New England has in common with the Deep South. And that the cultural trends among young people are very divergent from the 60+ crowd, and not always in the direction I expected.
Not a perfect book. But worth reading.
Fire and Ice came from years of research into the ideals and values held by Canadians from 1983 to 2000, Adam states that he was 'impressed with just how much Canadians' social values seemed to be diverging from those of Americans. (After all, we are frequently made to feel we have become nothing more than unarmed Americans with health insurance.)' (pg xii) - and this is even before September 11th.
He notes being particularly interested in finding out 'why an initially "conservative" society like Canada has ended up producing an autonomous, inner-directed, flexible, tolerant, socially liberal, and spiritually eclectic people while an intentionally "liberal" society like the United States has ended up producing a people who are, relatively speaking, materialistic, outer-directed, intolerant, socially conservative, and deferential to traditional institutional authority. Why do these two societies seem to prove the law of unintended consequences?' (pg 10).Read more ›
One reviewer criticised Adams methodology, but if it is so bad, then why is Environics still in business? The reviewer pointed us to David Frum for a detailed critique, but Frum is the former Bush speech writer who gave us the phrase "axis of evil." Adams may have sometimes asked different questions, but this is less comparing apples and oranges than comparing mackintoshs and spartans; the questions are dealing with the same underlying values. This is hot stuff, so don't be surprised if those who have a stake in the myth of converging values will try to attack and spin it as much as possible. And, in any case, have those arguing for the convergence offered anything near as detailed an argument as what Adams has presented?
Anyone who spends any time bouncing back and forth across the border will find their intuitions confirmed by Adams' book. More importantly, it will tell them why, and it will show them some things they missed, but which, after being pointed out, seem obvious.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book is total garbage and perpetuates ridiculous stereotypes without any real research included to back up his points. I am not sure that Mr. Read morePublished on March 21 2006
As an American who married a Canadian, I've become quite a student of the Canadian-American relationship. Read morePublished on March 20 2006
For those who were looking for a fair comparison between the two most geographically endowed nations on the planet, you will not find it here. Read morePublished on Aug. 22 2005 by Jeff Eloquor
I bought this book because I am an American who just moved to Canada and you can not go into a book shop without having this book prominently displayed. Read morePublished on May 13 2004 by John G. Hilliard
Having lived half my life in Canada, several years in the United States, and the remainder overseas, I feel uniquely positioned to comment on this book. Read morePublished on Dec 18 2003 by Snowkarver
I used to work the phones conducting public opinion surveys - I've seen this bunk before. Questions craftily worded to get the results you want. Read morePublished on Nov. 10 2003
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