Reviews for Lance Johnson's

What Foreigners Need To Know About
America From A To Z

As Featured in Publishers Weekly

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


Endorsements from

  • Clark T. Randt, Jr., US Ambassador to China
  • Zhou Wenzhong, China Ambassador to US
  • Mohammad Vazeeruddin, India journalist
  • Jay Gajjar, India language professor
  • Sarah Kim, Korean-American business owner, Los Angeles

"A to Z is by a scholar of globalization...the message is clear, the language is easy to understand." ~ Dr. Stephen Gill, literary critic

"[The author] has handled these [American] complexities  with candor and valuable insight." ~ Five-star review from Terry Whalin, editor, writer, publisher and top Amazon reviewer


Quick Links for More on A to Z

Media Kit

Praise for
A To Z

Sample Tip from Business Chapter Excerpt
On Language Reduction
The Book's Concept Author's Credentials
About the Author Author's Online Appearances
About the Book

Printed matter, illustrations, and other images on this site are copyrighted.
The author is generous with permission for use when contacted.

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 America.

I will enjoy reading and rereading this book for years to come. Thank you, Lance Johnson for cheering me up with your good word.

~Meredith Bailey is a writer and freelance reviewer.

Review from Educator

Reviewed by Tianchi Lu, Director-Suzhou Education Research Institute

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 our teachers.

Teachers 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.

We were 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.

His 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.

I 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 in America.

~Tianchi Lu is director of the Suzhou Education Research Institute, Suzhou, China

Review from World Traveler, Writer, and Screen Writer

Reviewed by Kristin Johnson
Five of Five Stars

 As 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... 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)? were a student at a university baffled by American students who talked back to professors? disliked a particular food or could not eat it but didn't want to offend your American host? were courting and dating an American?

...your friends from your culture living in the US criticized your attempts to dress like an American? were invited to an American's home for dinner in Hawaii* or in the Midwest?

 Our 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 founding fathers...")

--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

--US 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.

Some 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 her.


 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).

* In 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 someone's home.

~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 profile at*Version*=1&*entries*=0 .

Review from Multi Award-Winning Novelist

Review by Leora Skolkin Smith

As 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.

~Leora 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”, “”, the Quarterly Review

Review by Pulitzer Prize Nominated Author

Title: 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
Available on
Amazon 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 nave 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 comprehension.

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:

America’s Heritage: the dreams that immigrants brought from the four winds, and the government, geography, history, law, religions, and measurements that resulted.

America’s Culture: our customs and etiquette, education, relationships, literature, films, art, sports, food and dining, dress and appearance, media, holidays and traditions, and attitudes.

America’s Business: models, unions, banking, customs and conduct, owning a business, how to get a job, and paying taxes.

America’s Language: how to talk and write correcting, slang, and tonality.

Back matter contains appendices for:

Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Colleges with Largest Percentage of International Students

Sample Income Tax Form 1040

Pulitzer Prize-winning books

Academy Awards 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

A comprehensive 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 trees.

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 prize.

Editor's Note: 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

Reviewed 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 your position."

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!


~Mary Cowper is a freelance reviewer for Midwest Review

Lance's Language and Culture Credentials

University Study Teaching Expertise  Travel and Study
  • University of Utah, BS
  • Columbia University, MBA
  • Oxford University, post graduate study, drama
  • Business seminars, several awards for speaking/teaching
  • Teaching English teachers for the Suzhou, China, school district.
  • Travel associated with teaching, research, pleasure trips and acting in 81 countries.
  • Lived in China during stints filming and teaching.

A to Z

Your book covers a broad range of topics that I am sure many…will find very useful. I certainly agree with you on the importance of mutual understanding, which [this] book serves to promote. ~ Clark T. Randt, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to China

I congratulate you on writing this timely work. This will promote better mutual understanding between America and Asia. ~ Tommy Koh, Singapore Ambassador to the U.N. and U.S.


I greatly appreciate your efforts in sharing with other people your opinion and experience on the exchanges between different peoples and cultures. It is so important for us to better understand each other while striving to build a better world for all. ~ Zhou Wenzhong, China Ambassador to U.S.


A to Z is by a scholar of globalization. Raised and schooled in India and widely traveled, I believe that discrimination is based on ignorance. [This book] tears at this veil and is as objective as is humanly possible. The message is clear, the text has flow and the language is easy to understand. Readers will find this book useful, no matter which portal they would like to enter from. ~ Dr. Stephen Gill, poet, novelist and literary critic


Misunderstandings often happen needlessly due to ignorance and differences in cultures. I really wish I had read this book when I lived in China in order to learn more about the U.S. Since moving to America and getting my MBA, it is not too late because there is so much to learn from A to Z. I highly recommend this book that could change your life! ~ Lily Lang, financial analyst, Washington, D.C.


I found this book refreshingly different from the general run of books in this genre because it shows both Americans and foreigners warts and all! ~ Mohammad Vazeeruddin, India journalist; former Associate Editor, The Tribune


The A to Z chapters are nicely written and are very informative. The language is simple and lucid and presented in a nice manner with fine sequence. The writer’s efforts of thorough research are praiseworthy. It is, in short, a realistic bible of modern America. ~ Jay Gajjar, India language professor, writer of three hundred short stories


I’ve lived in America 20 years. I took ESL [English as a second language] classes for three years and studied five years with a tutor. Until reading A to Z, I never found a book to help me with my grammar, pronunciation, phrasing and other essential speaking skills. It also helped me understand important American culture. So many of the questions I have always had about America and its people are answered in this book. I love this book’s generous use of helpful hints. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn more about America like I did.~ Sarah Kim, Korean American business owner, Los Angeles


[A To Z is] so inclusive!...well written...~ Mindy Philips Lawrence, reviewer, author, publicist


Nothing could be worse than nudging a nave 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. ~ Dave Menefee for Book Pleasures

Buy Links for A to Z

Amazon Links
Paperbacks, Worldwide

A to Z Equation of Life:
Knowledge + Understanding + Acceptance =
A Better World for All.




Canada  - 



France -



Germany -



Italy -



Japan -






United Kingdom -



United States -


For those with special needs or interests,
the sections of this book
are also available separately:

Book 1 - America's Heritage
Find it on Amazon at

Book 2 - America's Culture
Find it on Amazon at

Book 3 - America's Business
Find it on Amazon at

Book 4 - America's Language
Find it on Amazon at

The above volumes are also available on Amazon in Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Equation of life:
Knowledge + Understanding + Acceptance =
A Better World for All
~ Lance Johnson

Available at Vroman's and other fine brick-and-mortar book stores
and at Harvard and other university
bookstores--both on campus and online.


Other Recommended Books for
Grammar and Accent Reduction:


                                                 Contact   ~    Media Kit

Printed matter, illustrations, and other images on this site are copyrighted.
The author is generous with permission for use when contacted.

Lance Johnson

Contact the Author

Lance would love to hear from you with questions, ideas, requests for interviews, etc.

Quote from A to Z

To write 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 author 1903-1950


Quotes that reflect the importance of America A to Z's content are found at the beginning of each chapter of the book.

Article on Author's Chinese TV Series

Lance is the American lead in a 28 part Chinese TV series. Download a .pdf  about his film experience here.

Language Tip

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 again.)

Typical A to Z Hint

Hints like this may be found throughout the A To Z book.

Media Kit

For the convenience of the press and new media, download a pdf file of Lance's media kit.

Lance's A To Z

Lance was a featured author at Book 'Em February 2013, Robeson Community College, Lumberton, N.C. Click on Authors to see the  author lineup.

Lance's Growing Online Articles and Reviews

Lance is a guest blogger for author Aaron Lazar: "Genesis of a Book to Help Foreigners Understand Crazy America."

 Interview by Donna McDine for her blog.


Review from award-winning author Leora Skolkin-Smith.


Review from Donna M. McDine's review blog.


Five-Star Review
from Alice D. at
Readers Favorite


Interview at The Pen Muse


Review by Conny Withay


Review by Mary Cowper for Midwest Reviews:

"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!)..."


Review from Dave Menefee for Book Pleasures and The New Book Review.


 Please contract the author at for articles, interviews, podcasts and other guest appearances. Please note he is an actor and voiceover professional.

Awards for A To Z

As Featured in
Publishers Weekly

Gold winner for Readers Favorite Nonfiction/ Education

And a silver
Global E-Book Award

Recommended Book

Lance recommends Carolyn Howard-Johnson's multi award-winning The Frugal Editor for advanced English as Second Language learners who blog, write academically, or publish.

  • Winner Reader Views Award for Best Professional Book

  • 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 E-Book Awards

  • Book Publicists of Southern California (BPSC) coveted Irwin Award