Within two months of the 2008 U.S. presidential election, the selected speeches of Barack Obama had sold 400,000 copies in Japan, where they have become a great hit with people learning English. “His speeches are so moving,” said the publisher to a Reuters reporter. “And he uses words such as yes, we can, change and hope that even Japanese people can memorize.” Stephen Harper’s speeches, on the other hand, have sold no copies in Japan or anywhere else, as far as can be determined through Google. But then, none of those key words are to be found (for example) in Stephen Harper’s Canada Day speech of last year, or in his speech of apology to Aboriginal people. The other ingredient of Obama’s popularity in Japan, according to the publisher, is emotional: “Readers have sent in postcards saying that when they heard the speeches, they were so moved and cried even though they don’t understand English very well.” ECW Press has been quick to respond in Canada, where many speak English already, by publishing An American Story: The Speeches of Barack Obama, subtitled A Primer by David Olive, a hefty volume that turns out to be hard to put down, even for people who don’t need an English language guide. These speeches bear only a superficial resemblance to the speech-like utterances that emanate from Ottawa and other speech-generating venues. For one thing, they contain real narrative sentences and real narratives; they are imbued with history and politics and there is almost no bafflegab in them. Even cynics hardened by decades of speechifiers tend to keep turning the pages, just for the sheer wonder of hearing a real person speaking about real things. This is a revealing document of America, profoundly embedded in a discourse of liberty, religion and militarism, refracted but not deflected by the Obama lens. In these speeches we see clearly that America is another country: a place where people are referred to as folks, a genteelism that seems to carry a note of political correctness—like “comrade” in the days of the Communist bloc, and citoyen during the French Revolution.