Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton, suggest in their book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In that "the ability to see the situation as the other side sees it, as difficult as it may be, is one of the most important skills a negotiator can possess." It is in this spirit of trying to see things from another point of view that I, someone of a more left-leaning bent, took up America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It by conservative, Mark Steyn.
Mark Steyn writes with humour and wit and America Alone contains many passages that are extremely funny. However, the underlying message of the book is serious and controversial: if current demographic trends across the world continue, the world will be a very different place from the one we currently live in. Steyn predicts dramatic cultural shifts, particularly in Europe, due to the increase in the Muslim populations in these countries. His point of view: it will be America and its way of life versus the rest of the world.
America Alone is worth reading even if, or perhaps especially if, you feel you disagree with the basic premise of the book. Steyn's book challenged some of my long held political beliefs and he argues his position with passion. His arguments were less persuasive than they could be because Steyn's book has one major flaw: a complete lack of footnotes. The reader has no idea where all the facts and figures Steyn uses come from: they're to be accepted at face value. Not one reference to source material is provided in the book or on his website. I'm a believer in the old adage "There are lies, damn lies, and statistics" so I like to be able to see the numbers for myself.
Some of the chapters felt in need of editing. More than once it felt like the author was writing ideas as they came into his head, a stream of consciousness more suited for Steyn's blog than his book. This tendency does keep the book informal in tone and with Steyn's gift for humour, makes for good reading.
Lack of a bibliography not withstanding, America Alone is recommended reading regardless of your political views.
This book review was written by Helen Latimer.