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Prison Area, Independence Valley
American Paradoxes in Political Life and Popular Culture
Rob Kroes

Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies

2015 • 208 pp. 13 illus. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Popular Culture / Social Science Essays / History - 21st Century U.S.

$40.00 Paperback, 978-1-61168-730-9
$85.00 Hardcover, 978-1-61168-729-3

$39.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-731-6

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Hardcover is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

“These essays are both brilliant and provocative.”—Richard Pells

A major voice in transnational American studies addresses politics and culture in post-9/11 America

The study of prisons brought Tocqueville to America. For Rob Kroes, one of Europe’s most distinguished authorities on contemporary American culture, it was rather the other way around. For Kroes, it was deep knowledge of American culture that brought him back to America and face to face with a couple of highway signs, Tocquevillian in their portent, that invited motorists to exit from Interstate 80 in Nevada toward a place called Independence Valley and to keep their eyes open for a “Prison Area.” In this collection of essays, Kroes invites us to take these two signs seriously for their capacity to deepen our insights into America’s cultural contradictions, especially how, after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the US government’s response altered the meaning of America for Americans and Europeans alike. The author’s fascination with the myriad ways in which America changes face, from hard power to soft, from uses of force to the power of entertainment, but always holding the attention of publics across the globe, is what ties his work together. The essays here touch on diverse topics such as photography (“Falling Man” and Holocaust imagery), music (in Broadway and Hollywood musicals), film (Django Unchained), American exceptionalism (in an interesting counter to dog-eared dogma), and the difficulties of the first “white president of color.” Like his predecessors, Tocqueville and Johan Huizinga, Kroes offers a clear-eyed assessment of America on the ground, love it or hate it.

This readable and sharp-penned critique of America and American culture and power will appeal to Americanists across a broad swath of disciplines.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Rob Kroes, the most acute European analyst of contemporary American culture, offers deeply grounded reflections on American politics and culture.”—Thomas Bender

“[Kroes] has been the vanguard of researchers who carefully trace the influence of weary popular American culture abroad, without subscribing to the idea that it is harmful or is cultural imperialism.” —Vingtiéme Siécle

“Kroes outlines a brilliant and diverse range of a wide range of subjects.”—Atlantisch Perspectief

“The great strength of this book is its razor sharp criticism of the recent politics of the United States that offers a nuanced, sometimes impressionistic image of a land that is at a crucial crossroads in its history. . . . For the outsider sometimes surprised at the immense contradictions that America has, Kroes does not offer ready-made answers, but a frame of reference to explain these contradictions.”—
Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis

“Rob Kroes in this book is both an accomplished academic and a public intellectual. This book could be a primer in American studies classes both in the US and the rest of the world.”—

“Rob Kroes illuminates the modern American experience with rare penetration. His distinguished academic career has been marked by the effort to grasp why the United States arouses resentment abroad, even as he admires the self-correcting mechanisms that democracy and decency can encourage.” —Stephen Whitfield

Rob Kroes is professor emeritus of American studies at the University of Amsterdam, now also honorary professor at the University of Utrecht. One of Europe’s leading American studies scholars, he is the author of numerous books and articles, including Photographic Memories: Private Pictures, Public Images, and American History.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:22:12 -0500