American Stories: Tales of Hope and Anger

Michael Brissenden

American Stories: Tales of Hope and Anger
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American Stories: Tales of Hope and Anger

Michael Brissenden

In July 2009, Michael Brissenden, political editor for The 7.30 Report, moved to Washington to take up a new role as US current affairs correspondent for ABC TV. It promised to be a change, and a challenge. Here is his fascinating account of his time in America, from an analysis of how Barack Obama meets the enormous expectations of those who voted him into office - and the equally enormous expectations of a world that hoped for big changes from his presidency - to the people Brissenden meets along the way, and the long and fractious political process that will either deliver Obama a chance to be a truly transformative president or place him along side one-term leaders like Jimmy Carter. With unprecedented scope to grapple with the issues, to travel across the country and to tell the stories of the players, the hopeful true believers, the skeptics, the winners and the losers, Brissenden writes with searing honesty and intelligence. American Stories explores this extraordinary moment in American history and just how America’s choices affect Australia and the rest of the world, and shows exactly what it’s like to be a foreign correspondent in the lead-up to one of the world’s most influential elections.

Review

michael-brissenden1ABC TV’s Michael Brissenden has written a sharply observed and hugely entertaining collection of essays on contemporary American life.

He covers the expected turf – healthcare, the war on drugs, asylum seekers, race relations – but delivers much more than that. He explores the release of Canadian grey wolves into Yellowstone National Park, an act of conservation by the Fisheries and Wildlife Service that informs the cultural renewal of the Nez Perce Indians in Oregon.

In Detroit we move beyond the first generation of unionised autoworkers to suffer income depreciation to find artists embracing the vast derelict spaces, igniting the potential of an arts-based urban renewal.

Brissenden moves easily from Los Angeles to Mexico, Miami to Cuba, always with an eye for the contested space, be it land, ideology or identity. The chapters segue neatly to provide both the hint of a narrative and an insight into the inquisitive mindset of a foreign correspondent.

We also get a good sense of the compromised natures of President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, of their limitations and failures, and of America’s deterioration into a polemic stalemate.

Honest, but not without hope, Brissenden gives us an excellent snapshot of contemporary America.

robbie-smallRobbie Egan is the Manager at Readings Carlton

Review first published in *Bookseller+Publisher*

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