This book helps to justify the European prejudice of the dumb and uninformed average American! BB travels through Europe but only to see proof of his many prejudices, mainly of the Germans. As a German reader, I must admit, I could not laugh! And I do not understand why some German publisher would even make the effort of translating and publishing the book for the German market.
Here are some examples of BB's cliches:
Aachen: "In the evening I went looking for a restaurant. This is often a problem in Germany. For one thing, there's a good chance that there will be three guys in lederhosen playing polka music, so you have to look carefully through the windows and question the proprietor closely to make sure that Willi and the Bavarian Boys won't suddenly bound onto a little stage at half-past eight, because there is nothting worse than being just about to tuck into your dinner, a good book propped in front of you, and finding yourself surrounded by ruddy-faced Germans waving beer steins and singing the 'Horst-Wessel-Lied' for all they're worth."
This is so bad! It is just ridiculous to write about it! Everything from Willi and the Bavarian Boys to the polka and the Horst-Wessel-Lied. BB has watched too many American and English movies full of German Nazis and mixed up fact and fiction.
One sentence later: "I went up to six or eight places and studied the menus by the door but they were all full of foods with ominous Germanic names - Schweinensnout mit Spittle und Grit, Ramsintestines und Oder Grosser Stuff, that sort of thing."
Excuse me, Mr. Bryson, but what is that supposed to mean? It certainly isn't German! I don't know if it sounds Germanic, but it does not appear on a German menu.
Cologne central station: "It would never occur to her to conclude that I was a foreign visitor who didn't know the drill and say to me in a pleasant voice, 'Coffee, mein Liebschen?' or even just signal to me that I should step to the counter. No, I was breaking a rule and for this I had to be ignored. This is the worst characteristic of the Germans. Well, actually a prediction for starting land wars in Europe is their worst characteristic, but this is up there with it."
He goes on then to describe the German print media by giving a very detailed description of the magazine 'Neue Review' (his spelling). It says something of the author that he doesn't bother with Spiegel, Stern, Focus or the like but gives a fascinated summary of a cheap sex magazine.
I really think that it is so bad that I do not need to comment on this. This is the first time that I read an American/English book and actually felt insulted by it. And I must stress that I do read many American/English books and that I do not think of myself as a patriot. But dumb cliches like these can really drive you in the arms of patriotism!