Watching The English

Review From User :

If only there were a book like this for every country and people! It has been a long time since I have laughed as much while reading a book... and I'm not sure that I have ever read so many excerpts of a book out loud to my wife. If you have ever wondered why the English behave the way they do, then run (do not walk) to buy this book.

Kate Fox is an anthropologist after my own heart (when I went on an expedition, it was through the Alps rather than the Himalayas) -- uninterested in the "macho" obsessions of her colleagues who are forever rushing off to suffer in jungles and deserts in order to elucidate the obscure beliefs and rituals of minor tribes, she has chosen to focus on the much larger but just as bizarre tribe that lives outside (and inside) her house: the English. And they (we) really are bizarre, when you really pay close attention to them (us).

Her method is that of the participant observer, forever eavesdropping in pubs, trains, buses, cafes, and wherever else she can, formulating theories about rules that would explain the strange behaviour she witnesses, and then testing them by clever questioning of, and ingenious experiments on, mostly unsuspecting "informants".

Her writing is brilliant: acutely intelligent and ferociously funny. And in my opinion she succeeds in her goal -- identifying the cultural "genome" of the English. After reading "Watching the English" I feel like I understand both my countrymen and myself much better than I did before. I can't recommend this wonderful book highly enough.


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