Summary of American Ways

A Guide for Foreigners in the United States

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American Ways book summary
Just so foreigners understand, Americans are independent, patriotic, friendly, private, freedom loving, materialistic, superior and — except in that they all apparently share these traits — diversified.


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6 Applicability

6 Innovation

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Gary Althen’s richly detailed guide shines a psychological, cultural and sociological spotlight on American customs, values, attitudes and behavior. Organized into 22 chapters that cover just about every aspect of American life, the book hits you with its uncanny insight, accuracy and honesty. Although he doesn’t completely avoid stereotyping (and doesn’t seem at all bothered by it), Althen presents the good, the bad and the quirky. He explains the "why" behind American attitudes and manners. Even though this is a guide for foreigners visiting, doing business in or living in the United States, also suggests this book to Americans. It’s an eye-opener about the national personality, or the perceived national personality, from naïvete to individualism. As Scotsman Robert Burns wrote, "Oh wad some power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as others see us." Well, here’s your chance.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How people from other places can easily misunderstand American ideas, attitudes and actions
  • How to understand the behavioral impact of Americans’ emphasis on independence, privacy, freedom, diversity and success
  • How foreigners view Americans and how Americans view themselves


Americans: Nothing to Hide
Most Americans think of themselves as open, frank and friendly, They will cheerfully answer questions, believing that they have nothing to hide, so they don’t understand why - aside from language difficulties - people from other countries should have any problem...
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About the Author

Gary Althen served as a foreign student advisor at the University of Iowa, spending much of his 30 years on campus as director of the Office of International Students and Scholars. He has been president of NAPSA, the Association of International Educators. He is the author of The Handbook of Foreign Student Advising, and is author, editor or coauthor of many other international educational and inter-cultural affairs publications. He has lived and worked in Peru and Malaysia.

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