The author’s poor command of the English language makes this book hard to read. "To the praised Christmas tree do not go with a large bag" is an apt example of bad translation. Nonetheless, the persevering reader will be rewarded with some interesting observations about ‘western’ culture from the perspective of an octogenarian that grew up in Soviet-controlled Romania.
Some of his observations are brutally honest, perhaps cruel - “In a mall, a lady is jogging … she makes very odd and disgraceful movements.” But he can also be quite amusing – “The sun is rising, cattle are grazing. Probably the grass with dew is tastier. I never tasted it.”
While travelling by bus across America the author’s mind wanders tangentially. On seeing a leaflet about a crater the author is reminded of the discovery of iron and then goes on to discuss how we learn history, how historically inaccurate movies are, and how Louis XIV was not a great French king. In the author’s own words: “In this point I lost many readers, I think. But I do not write this book for stupid people. Let's go on with the others.”
In essence the comparison between the US and Romania boils down to factors such as religious belief (widespread in the US, largely abandoned in Romania) and economic wealth (abundant in the US, severely limited in Romania after decades of mismanagement under Soviet rule). As the author states: “The key to progress is not in politics but in morality and economy.”
Overall, despite the poor English the author’s wit manages to shine through in this book. His observations are interesting and insightful.