Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen

Notes on a Foreign Country

Suzy Hansen left her country and moved to Istanbul and discovered AmericaIn 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 underst...

Details Notes on a Foreign Country

TitleNotes on a Foreign Country
Release DateAug 15th, 2017
PublisherFarrar, Straus and Giroux
GenreNonfiction, Politics, Travel, Autobiography, Memoir, History, Writing, Journalism, Literature, American, Religion, Islam, Cultural, Iran

Reviews Notes on a Foreign Country

  • Dana DesJardins
    No doubt my rating is skewed by reading this in Istanbul, where I can see proof of Hansen's assertions about the effects of American imperialism all around me. She uses James Baldwin's astute, pellucid writing to establish a paradigm about American "innocence," the willed blindness that allows US citizens not to know who Mossadegh was, even as our tax dollars unseated that democratically elected leader of Iran and ushered in decades of terror, fu...
  • Sandy
    Tore through this in a day when I ought to have been working on my own writing. Hansen beautifully blends a travelogue/capsule history of Turkey (and its relationship to the USA) with her own loss of innocence/ignorance about America's heavy cultural and political boot-print in the world. Hansen was a successful NYC-based journalist who won a fellowship to live and research abroad. She picked Turkey for an idiosyncratic but ultimately very resona...
  • B. Cheng
    While I would definitely recommend this book, I'm very conflicted about it. There is a lot that I loved, mostly focused on the parts that are a travelouge of the author's time in Turkey. The part about her being seen as a potential "spy" or "CIA" also amused me as a longterm expat who sometimes hears that from local friends or those I come across.What I didn't like about the book was when she goes forth and moralizes or faces her own white girl/U...
  • Tom Glaser
    The author of “Notes on a Foreign Country” grows up in small town on the Jersey Shore, gets an Ivy League education, becomes a journalist in New York and then gets a two-year fellowship to live in Turkey, a country she knows absolutely nothing about. She stays for 10 years.This is an interesting memoir for a lot of reasons.It nicely recounts the process of learning a new language and immersing oneself in an unfamiliar culture. Anyone who’s ...
  • Dave
    Suzy Hansen is awarded a fellowship that sends Americans abroad to report on foreign countries. Her first stop, on what turns into the better part of 10 years over seas, is to Turkey. She chooses Turkey because her favorite author James Baldwin lived in Instanbul and said "he felt more comfortable as a black, gay man in Instanbul than in Paris or New York City" which made no sense to her. She quickly learns that while she knows next to nothing ab...
  • Elizabeth Theiss
    Sometimes it's easier to see one's own country most clearly by traveling outside of it. I remember the incredulity of an Edinburgh cab driver at the reelection of George W. Bush. The curiosity of French friends about the separation of powers and perpetual congressional gridlock. Suzy Hansen took a writing fellowship in Istanbul and stayed ten years. This book recounts her reflections on the American identity and its impact on Turkey, the Middle E...
  • Peter Geyer
    It's hard to know where to start with this fascinating book. It's a memoir; a travel book; an examination of American foreign policy of the past century, more or less, particularly in the Middle East; that country's understanding of other cultures (government and people), an examination of Turkish culture and history, and what Turks and others think about Americans, possibly foreigners in general; and America in general, its self-perceptions and ...
  • Melinda
    Interesting, difficult, at times extremely dry, at times eye-opening.
  • Ruby
    "The American dream was to create our own destiny, but it's perhaps an ethical duty, as a human being, and as an American, to consider that our American dreams may have come at the expense of a million other destinies. To deny that is to deny the realities of millions of people, and forever sever ourselves from humanity.""Americans are surprised by the direct relationship between their country and foreign ones because we don't acknowledge that Am...
  • bmo211
    This book should be assigned to every incoming college freshman in the United States. Every American should put down "Hillbilly Elegy" and read this book instead.
  • Johannes
    I probably have no qualifications to write a review for this book since I will be the first to admit that I'm not a very good American. I withdrew from the American political process decades ago for reasons I'm not sure I can entirely articulate, but Hansen's impressions resonate with me in so many ways: "The America that exists within its own borders is not the same America that exists beyond them," and "The world is not necessarily a better pla...
  • Linda
    As a journalist, Suzy Hansen chose to live in Istanbul in 2007 in order to complete a research fellowship. She subsequently wrote NOTES ON A FOREIGN COUNTRY which is a very important, if painful, read at times. While relaying personal experiences, Hansen provides an introspective look at Americans’ privilege, disregard, and sheer lack of knowledge about other countries and their history. Hansen very bravely describes her own ignorance and str...
  • Cyrus Carter
    Well written and provocative stories which show a less-than-benevolent American foreign policy and the author's discovery of what it really means to be an American abroad.Many of her American readers will bristle at this evidence-based account set over 10 years primarily in Turkey, with sojourns to Egypt, Afghanistan and indeed a return to the USA.Suzy Hansen is an excellent story-teller with a journalistic style and a nose for the truth. Her boo...
  • Robert
    Perceptive analysis of the American psyche's notion of our "exceptionalism" and its effect on our practice of diplomacy. A young journalist comes of age living in Turkey and observing the broader Middle East and Afghanistan but in the process learning more about her own Americanness than about the Turkey and the region she came to love. Sobering, with much anecdotal evidence of our continued profound provincialism as we reached the zenith of our ...
  • Victoria Ferauge
    Very thoughtful book and one that I will add to the American Diaspora Reading List on my blog and on Goodreads. Nicely written and not at all the usual expatriate biography (and as an American abroad for 20+ years I've read a lot of them. :-) I have a longer review up on the blog is anyone is interested.https://thefranco-americanflophouse.b...
  • Meredith
    A truly fascinating and provocative book. While some may find her politics/reflections distasteful, I think it should be required reading for Americans who consider themselves educated or well-informed. Required because it evokes ways of thinking about the world that we don't want to admit, examine or contemplate. Required because she distinguishes echos and parallels to current politics going back as far as 60 years. It is surprising to me just ...
  • Thorn MotherIssues
    "I wondered how often it was that anyone told white Americans the truth." Here's a rare book about learning to hear truth anyway.