Reviews for What Foreigners Need
To Know About America applaud the author's voice, humor, expertise.
Scroll for many of
the author's favorites.
A to Z is an Amazon Kindle #1 Bestseller
Clark T. Randt, Jr., US Ambassador to
Zhou Wenzhong, China Ambassador to US
Mohammad Vazeeruddin, India journalist
Jay Gajjar, India language professor
Sarah Kim, Korean-American business
owner, Los Angeles
to Z is by a scholar of globalization...the
message is clear, the language is easy to
~ Dr. Stephen Gill, literary critic
"[The author] has handled these [American]
complexities with candor and valuable
Five-star review from Terry Whalin,
editor, writer, publisher and top Amazon
A to Z
Review from Humor
Lover's Point of View
Reviewed by Meredith Bailey
I found this reference manual to be one of the funniest books on America
that I have ever read. Lance Johnson's What Foreigners Need
to Know About America From A to Z should be included in the
genre of satirical books on America. Some examples of
satirical books on America are Jon Stewart's America (The
Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction and Stephen
Colbert's I Am America (And So Can You). Lance Johnson's
book should be included in this genre. He is an humorist in
his own right.
This book is thoroughly entertaining. I enjoy the way it is
organized by absurd alphabetical order to the way social
mannerisms and etiquette are described in a matter-of-a-fact
absurd way. The real audience this book speaks to is
I will enjoy reading and rereading this book for years to
come. Thank you, Lance Johnson for cheering me up with your
~Meredith Bailey is a writer and freelance reviewer.
Review from Educator
Reviewed by Tianchi Lu, Director-Suzhou Education
The Suzhou Education
Research Institute, of which I am the Director, has the task
of improving the quality of education in the schools of
Suzhou, China. One of our many projects was the exploration
of ways we could improve the level of English taught in our
schools that begins in the first grade. To achieve this
objective, we realized we must first improve the skills of
of English from eight of our schools were selected to attend
a unique and extensive course in which Mr. Lance Johnson was
our educator. Not only did we want our teachers to improve
their command of English grammar and speech, but as a
backdrop we wanted them to learn more about America, its
people, and its culture. He used his A to Z book as a
guide for his classes.
extremely pleased with the knowledge our teachers gained
from this program. Their level of listening, reading,
speaking, and writing of English increased dramatically.
They also gained confidence using the English language and
understanding Western ways.
chapters on English grammar and speech identify common
problems for foreigners and provide easy ways they can
overcome their shortcomings. His book also summarizes many
important aspects of America that foreigners should know
more about, including customs and culture. This unique
approach to learning was fun and informative for our
teachers and gave them a deeper understanding of America. In
turn, they will impart this knowledge to their students.
strongly recommend Mr. Johnson’s book to anyone who wishes
to learn about America and Western culture, its people,
customs and language. It will certainly benefit those going
to America for work or school, or those who do business with
or have contact with Americans either in their homeland or
~Tianchi Lu is director of
Suzhou Education Research Institute, Suzhou, China
Review from World
Traveler, Writer, and Screen Writer
Reviewed by Kristin Johnson
of Five Stars
an American traveler, I have often been asked questions I found
difficult to answer. Luckily, there is a resource, for me and for the
people I have met in different countries.
This guide, What Foreigners Need to Know About America From A to Z,
answers questions such as: what would you do if...
...you were from another culture and had to negotiate a business deal
but you found your American counterpart direct and rude (especially if
you are from Japan)?
...you were a student at a university baffled by American students who
talked back to professors?
...you disliked a particular food or could not eat it but didn't want
to offend your American host?
...you were courting and dating an American?
...your friends from your culture living in the US criticized your
attempts to dress like an American?
...you were invited to an American's home for dinner in Hawaii* or in
world may be global, communication instant, but this only ramps up
(increases) cultural misunderstandings among cultures. As a
businessperson, actor, author, teacher, and world traveler, Lance
Johnson realizes that making sense of our "crazy" American ways can be a
challenge for immigrants, tourists, and businesses from other countries
doing business with their American counterparts. What he has done in his
book America From A to Z is take the equivalent of several university
courses' worth of information on America and present his information in
an informal, conversational one-on-one manner, as if he were talking to
a friend, such as a Vietnamese guide Lance met during an eye-opening
*enlightening) trip to Vietnam.
Each of the book's four major sections stands on its own (if you are
wondering about the construction of this sentence, check page 477), and
depending on what aspects of American culture you want to learn, you can
look at the particular section you would like to study. Each section is
available as its own separate book, but to get the most out of Lance
Johnson's lessons, having the complete book is ideal.
Section I: America's Heritage
Useful for: Understanding US History, US Law, US Government (baffling
to all), where the Bible Belt is versus Dixie, the American Dream,
contributions of/history of immigrants as well as Americans of foreign
descent (such as Governor Piyush "Bobby" Jindal of Louisiana), national
parks, religion (baffling) and measurements (an even more baffling
subject made simple here).
Section II: America's Culture
Useful for: Understanding American painters, writers, sports, film
(easily one of our biggest exports), how to get along in American social
situations, greetings, navigating high school and college,
dating/marriage guides, formal to fast food dining tips, dressing tips,
Americans' views on themselves and other cultures, and foreigners'
experience of America.
Section III: America's Business
Useful for: giving you all the information to understand how Americans
do business (straightforward), negotiate, hire, fire, do finance, start
a business, and so on.
Section IV: America's Language
Useful for: Foreigners AND Americans who want to speak better English
by avoiding common errors, learning the alphabet, grammar and
vocabulary, learning from famous sayings, understanding slang and
abbreviations, recognizing most commonly used words, and getting
speaking tips (my favorite: "Do not be afraid to try").
--Lincoln's Gettysburg Address ("Four score and seven years ago our
--Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges in America (#1 Williams College)
--Top 50 Universities in America (#1 Harvard University)
--Colleges With Largest Percentages of Foreign Students (New School, NY)
--Sample Income Tax Form
--The Pulitzer Prize for Literature (1937-2011)
--Academy Awards for Best Picture (1927-2011)
--Newspaper Column: "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus"
--The 50 US States
History Government Quiz (Hint: You might ask that your American friends
take this, too!)
This book has "a ton of" (many) lists and tables (I counted 278). The
lists, tables and charts make the text easily readable. Another equally
helpful feature are the numerous hints and tips, as well as "Here's an
assignment for you" exercises sprinkled like gems throughout the text.
of my favorite hints...
Hint: As another example of our crazy language that we discuss in
Section IV on America’s language, coins are minted (made) at the U.S.
Mint. Something is in mint condition if it appears to be brand new. We
have a green aromatic plant called mint that is used in teas and to
flavor foods. And we have candy after-dinner mints made with chocolate
and the flavoring from mint plants.
Hint: It is also fine to bring unwrapped gifts with only a small gift
card attached, especially for items like flowers, candy, and wine.
Hint: Just as women like men who are confident, most American men like
women who are confident. If a woman is shy and unable to express her
opinions and wishes, as some foreigners can appear to be, she will not
impress most American men. On the other hand, if she is controlling and
domineering, she won’t either. Try to strike a good balance.
Hint: You will learn in Chapter Y on using better English grammar that
we have three levels of grammar: formal, general, and informal. I
suppose you could say we have the same levels for table etiquette based
on who you are eating with. I must admit I do not practice all of the
good manners, especially when I am with close friends or in a fast food
restaurant. Just be aware that the more of our rules you practice the
more favorable you will appear. Over time you will note the manners used
by your counterpart and will see which ones are most important to him or
WEALTH OF INFORMATION AND WIT
Surveys on American morals and values reveal our character. Personal
stories humanize the American experience, whether from the point of view
of a Frenchman, foreign exchange students and Muslim-Americans, an
Englishman (the delightful Alistair Cooke), or a Vietnamese immigrant as
well as a Chinese teacher of English. The message: We all can learn from
each other. This is the most enduring message of the book, and Lance
Johnson's commitment to his vision shines.
This book should be a staple in: US embassies, foreign embassies in the
US, high schools and colleges, corporate libraries, travel
agencies...the surface has barely been scratched (meaning there's much
more to share).
Hawaii, if you are invited to someone's home for a potluck or party it
is a huge gesture of respect and inclusion. In Hawaii social activity
typically revolves around the family (ohana). Ask the host/hostess what
you should bring in terms of food. Take your shoes off before entering
~Kristin Johnson is a ghost writer, screen writer
and author. She
has spent time in exotic lands such as Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia,
Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, and various Canada locations, France, and Texas
(more than a state--a state of mind.) She works on creative projects
with people based all over the world. View her Amazon.com profile at
Review from Multi
Review by Leora Skolkin Smith
the daughter of a foreign-born mother who had to struggle to assimilate
into American culture, reading Lance Johnson's book was an occasion for
me to rejoice. Literate but accessible and un-didatic, it defines
American icons and expressions while at the same time providing brass
tacks definitions and down-to earth suggestions. It's sometimes hard for
Americans to realize that our culture needs to be demystified and made
available to others without stress and/or giving them a feeling of
remaining a perpetual outsider. Lance Johnson invites everyone to enjoy
and penetrate some of the unique American mysteries we take for granted.
A spectacular, important book and a toolbox full of relevant and useful
tools for all.
Skolkin-Smith’s first published novel, Edges was edited and
published by the late Grace Paley for Ms. Paley's imprint at Glad Day
books. It was nominated for the 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award. Recently, her
novels were selected by Princeton University as part of a series on
women writers whose background is from the Middle East and whose work is
personal, reflecting the current diaspora. The Princeton Series in
funded by The National Endowment of the Humanities and called: "The
Fertile Crescent Moon Series." The Fragile Mistress, a
feature film based on Edges, is currently in pre-production,
scheduled to begin shooting on location in Jerusalem, Jordan, and New
York, produced by Triboro Pictures, directed by Michael Gunther.
Articles by Leora Skolkin-Smith have appeared in The Washington Post,
Psychology Today, The National Book Critic’s Circle, “Critical Mass”, “Readysteadybook.com”,
the Quarterly Review
Review by Pulitzer Prize
What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A to Z
Subtitle: How to understand crazy American culture,
people, government, business, language, and more
Author: Lance Johnson
and on Amazon sites worldwide
Available as an
Reviewed by Dave
Menefee for Book Pleasures
Every person living in
America should be required to study this book.
The divides separating
ages, cultures, religions, and races could largely be eliminated and a
Utopian civilization could be finally achieved if we simply understood
each other, but we’re not all working off the same page. Lance Johnson
has produced the ultimate guide for bringing about a universal
understanding between the millions of people living, working, and loving
inside the United States.
Nothing could be worse
than nudging a naïve neophyte into the magnificent melting pot known as
America. This book could be their salvation, but beware of the
misleading title. You might think that What Foreigners Need to Know
About America from A to Z contains nothing but factoids for
foreigners, but you need look no further than yourself and those within
your intimate circle of friends to realize that our entire population
today woefully lacks a perception of etiquette, knowledge of this
country’s heritage, awareness of culture, know-how about business, and
comprehension of language. We need alertness to TLC: Tradition, Legacy,
and Custom. This monumental book holds the missing key to collective
The 566-page book
weighs as much as a big city telephone book, and you cannot absorb the
whole in one reading (I tried), but thankfully, Johnson has divided the
digest into four sections:
the dreams that immigrants brought from the four winds, and the
government, geography, history, law, religions, and measurements that
our customs and etiquette, education, relationships, literature, films,
art, sports, food and dining, dress and appearance, media, holidays and
traditions, and attitudes.
models, unions, banking, customs and conduct, owning a business, how to
get a job, and paying taxes.
how to talk and write correcting, slang, and tonality.
Back matter contains
Largest Percentage of International Students
Tax Form 1040
for Best Picture
The Famous 1897
New York Sun article “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Clause”
A list of the
current 50 United States
100-question Quiz on US Government
You might wonder what
the above topics have to do with understanding Americans, but these
subjects fuse together the follies, foibles, and fundamentals that
formed this country. The author profusely illustrates his text with more
than 650 photos, maps, charts, and illustrations. His writing style
embraces excellent grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and
spelling. Each of the four main sections is also available as a separate
paperback edition. Those Volumes 1-4 allow a reader to hone in on areas
they may feel that they most need to study, but the huge multi-volume
edition can be found in both paperback and Kindle book editions.
Study remains the keyword here, because the author outlays
everything everyone needs to learn about living, working, socializing,
and doing business in America. A comprehensive Index makes referring
back to some detail a snap. Throughout the book, the author interjects
"hints" that offer his personal pointers about how to further understand
a given topic, not unlike having your best friend nudge you and whisper
a tip that completely clarifies your understanding.
The book should be the
last course all high school students must pass before graduating,
compulsory for earning a college diploma, mandatory for every management
trainee, and a required refresher for all senior citizens before
beginning to collect Social Security. Our nation would be vastly
improved if all adults were following the same guiding principles.
What Foreigners Need
to Know About America from A to Z
pulls together between
two covers a richly researched, all-inclusive panorama of America’s
heritage, culture, business, and language. If this country ever ceases
to exist, I hope this book survives as a testament to the truth that
there was once a land where life’s leading lights shown at their
brightest on a candelabra forged from the iron of the ages. Until that
dark day, Lance Johnson has provided us with a workbook for winning that
has been struck from those same elements and should be on your gift list
for friends setting up in America for the first time, any student
emerging from the classroom into the jungle of life, and all the rest of
us who have forgotten the beauty of the forest because of the tangle of
Lance Johnson has an
Ivy League graduate business degree and has studied at OxfordUniversity
in England. He has traveled through 81 countries, served as manager of
an international consulting firm, and appeared in many movies, stage
plays, and commercials.
~Reviewer David W. Menefee is the
author of more than a dozen books and was nominated for a Pulitzer
The separate sections of What Foreigners Need to Know are also
available for those who want to focus on one aspect of this reference,
like accent reduction and grammar or culture.
Midwest Book Review
for Cowper's Bookshelf at Midwest Review
What Foreigners Need
To Know About America From A To Z: How To Understand Crazy American
Culture, People, Government, Business, Language And More is an
absolute must-have for anyone interested in doing business with, moving
to, or visiting America for any significant length of time.
Packed with invaluable
insights and information for those who are not wholly familiar with
America's way of life (including immigrant citizens who may have lived
in America for years but are still adjusting to different cultural
practices and rules of etiquette!), What Foreigners Need To Know
About America From A To Z covers general cultural practices (such as
how to respond to an RSVP invitation); guidelines for responding to
business, social, or personal situations; warnings against behaviors
commonly practiced in other nations yet seen as rude in America (such as
blocking the sidewalk, pushing past other people in crowded situations
and never saying "excuse me", or talking loudly to people at another
table in a restaurant); an overview of the American history, government,
and religions; English language mastery tips; and much more.
From the chapter on business:
"...if English is your
second language and your contact doesn't understand something you say,
he will probably ask for clarification. Such as response might be
considered rude in some cultures, but not ours. In fact, before you
begin your presentation, tell him to let you know when he needs
clarification, but do not apologize for your English; it will weaken
What Foreigners Need To
Know About America From A To Z should be required reading for every
international college student or business professional who arrives in
America without extensive cultural knowledge, and is worthy of the
highest recommendation especially for public libraries, or as a giftbook
for visiting friends and relatives from another country!
Cowper is a freelance reviewer for Midwest Review
Lance's Language and Culture Credentials
of Utah, BS
University, post graduate study, drama
- Business seminars, several awards for
- Teaching English teachers
for the Suzhou,
China, school district.
- Travel associated
teaching, research, pleasure trips and acting in 81 countries.
- Lived in China during stints
filming and teaching.
A to Z
Printed matter, illustrations, and
other images on this site are copyrighted.
The author is generous with permission for use when contacted.
Contact the Author
from A to Z
or even speak English is not a science but an art.
There are no reliable words. Whoever writes English
is involved in a struggle that never lets up even
for a sentence. He is struggling against vagueness,
against obscurity, against the lure of the
decorative adjective, against the encroachment of
Latin and Greek, and, above all, against the
worn-out phrases and dead metaphors with which the
language is cluttered up. ~ George Orwell, British
Quotes that reflect the importance of America A to
Z's content are found at the beginning of each
chapter of the book.
Hint: When writing
sentences, we generally spell any number less than
10, and use numerals above them. For example, “Lost
in the jungle for nine days, I could not wait to
return to my group of 10 explorers.” In some
high-brow (highly cultured or intellectual) works,
some publishers spell out numbers up to one-hundred.
(There‘s that American individuality thing
Typical A to Z Hint
Hints like this may be found throughout the A To
Lance's A To Z
a featured author at
2013, Robeson Community College,
Lumberton, N.C. Click on Authors to see the
Growing Online Articles and Reviews
guest blogger for author Aaron Lazar: "Genesis
of a Book to Help Foreigners Understand Crazy
Donna McDine for
Review from award-winning author Leora Skolkin-Smith.
Donna M. McDine's review blog.
from Alice D. at
The Pen Muse
by Mary Cowper for
"Packed with invaluable insights and information for
those who are not wholly familiar with America's way
of life (including immigrant citizens who may have
lived in America for years but are still adjusting
to different cultural practices and rules of
Review from Dave Menefee for Book Pleasures and
The New Book Review.
contract the author at
for articles, interviews, podcasts and other guest
appearances. Please note he is an actor and
Lance recommends Carolyn
Howard-Johnson's multi award-winning
advanced English as Second Language learners who
blog, write academically, or publish.
Winner Reader Views Award for Best
Winner USA Book News Award
Finalist Next Generation Book Awards
Winner Next Generation Book Awards for the
Marketing Plan for that book
Honorable Mention from Dan Poynter's Global
Book Publicists of Southern California (BPSC)
coveted Irwin Award