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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » America the Book: A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction

America the Book: A Citizen's Guide To Democracy Inaction

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Jon Stewart

Pretty much the popular cable TV comedy show THE DAILY SHOW in handy book-length form, AMERICA (THE BOOK) loses none of the series' iconoclastic wit in translation. The program's sharply intelligent writing team deconstructs the United States' system … see full wiki

Tags: Books, Humor
Author: Jon Stewart
Genre: Humor
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Date Published: September 01, 2004
1 review about America the Book: A Citizen's Guide To Democracy...

America - F*** Yeah!

  • Apr 28, 2007
Rating:
+3
Pros: It's from The Daily Show!

Cons: Those America-hating, limo liberals!

The Bottom Line: I've never been more proud - or oddly angry - to be an American!

The exact politics of America: The Book are fairly difficult to pinpoint. It will satisfy flag-waving conservatives with its portrait of America as the flawless land of the free, Hank Hill’s America that can do no wrong. It will also satisfy self-loathing liberals with it accurate facts and observations. How does it accomplish both of these things? Simple: It gives you all the facts while dismissing them all in favor of the myths with a curt flip of its wrist. The thing to remember when reading America: The Book is its pure satire. What else could you expect from the writers of The Daily Show?

America: The Book is a parody of your high school social studies book. It includes a little bit of history, a little about how the country is run and who’s who in the government, a little bit about the rest of the world, a little bit about the media, a little bit about the future of democracy, and a whole lot of cynicism, sarcasm and complete BS in between. If all history books were as entertaining as America: The Book, everyone would be an honor student in high school history.

The layout of America: The Book imitates everything you hated about your own textbooks, right down to the unit questions and activities. (My favorite activity: Found a country.) There are lots of pictures, charts, tables, and those kinds of things. So why in the world would anyone ever want to read a replica of their least favorite subject? It’s because in America: The Book, everything you need to know to be a good American citizen is told in a hilarious tongue-in-cheek manner. In one of the history chapters, for example, we are told Columbus discovered America. After mentioning this, it goes on to mention some of the problems people have with this theory: You can’t discover something with a native population, the Norse made it here first, yada yada yada. It then dismisses these facts by saying the people who make these complaints are communists and reasserts the simple fact Columbus discovered America. (The part about the communists is true! I’ve met a lot of communists since moving to Chicago in February of 2006; all of them do a lot of whining about Columbus.)

The book gets the history out of the way first, then goes into the three branches of government before covering things like elections and media. All these sections are written with a razor-sharp wit like anything you’d hear on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. I particularly like how there are so many fictitious quotes attributed to real people, like Aristotle being credited for his lesser-known quote: You want it WHEN?! No words are minced: The parts about three branches of American government tell you in so many words you’re not going to get to political office, ever. Heck, you’re too lazy to vote. So these parts are written to give a kind of superiority to the officials, as if they live above the law. (And really, they do.)

I liked the parts about how elections work. They give you the straight truth of what the two main parties are about: Republicans are the party of nostalgia, trying to bring the country down to a more innocent time which never existed, and the Democrats trying to make everyone so non-judgmental that life becomes nothing but an unbearable string of apologies. They also give sensible new meanings to the party symbols, the elephant and the donkey respectively.

After these, America: The Books seems to take off in almost random directions. One chapter covers the media and it includes a hilarious false start apparently brought on by a deadline-induced Red Bull binge. Another chapter is about the future of democracy. Now when I say “future” here, I don’t mean the kind of feel-good the-future-of-democracy-is-in-your-hands kind of chapter. By future, I mean the book gives you surprisingly specific events which will purportedly happen before the year 2500. I honestly loved this section for the way it made fun of the current administration and for the way it made fun of wishy-washy textbook filler chapters at the same time. The last chapter takes a look at the entire rest of the world, where reading the rest of America: The Book may make you want to move. (You know, just so you’re someplace a little less hated by the rest of the world.) This is a great way to close out the book because it’s funny and plays on our favorite stereotypes about all those other parts of the world.

The way America: The Book is written is right-wing patriotic while cynical at the same time. It gives you a lot of blunt facts which other textbooks won’t tell you, while still giving you a feeling of superiority for being a natural-born American. That’s quite a trick, but the staff of The Daily Show pulls it off great. So quit complaining about the country, and forget to participate in democracy! (That’s not a typo.) Let Old Glory soar in the winds above your home, buy a copy of America: The Book, and be proud to be a natural-born citizen of the greatest country the world has ever or will ever see! (Except, of course, for all of Europe.)




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