1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 17: America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democrazy Inaction: by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Did you know that Texas buys more textbooks than any other state? So publishers who want to sell a lot of text books, have to appeal to the Texan school boards. This means the propagation of the American mythos. You know, our forefathers were great. No taxation without representation. Freedom! Equality! All men are created equal (as long as you are in fact a MAN, and own property and are white). For one who is informed on American history, reading a typical American, high school, history text book, would read like a tragedy that encourages constant eye rolling, that begs for lampooning. Enter John Stewart and The Daily Show writers. The book cuts through the American mythos and delivers a poignant and tragically funny satire that draws attention to the hypocritical nature of American ideals.

What is in store for one who chooses to read this brilliant satire? A forward by Thomas Jefferson, which unapologetically draws attention to the fact that this ‘forefather’ who is praised for his role in creating a ‘free nation’ and honoured by being placed on currency, was a rapist slave owner, who, despite the fact he indulged in relationships with black women, believed that they should be bought and sold like cattle. Likewise, you’ll read of Strom Thurmond, who, after fathering a child with a black maid-a maid who was only 16, while Thurmond was 22- went on to try and block a civil rights bill by enacting a filibuster where he spent 24 hours and 18 minutes trying to block the bill; apparently he didn’t think his own daughter should have equal rights. And this man went on to be re-elected for close to 6 decades after this appalling stunt! Keep in mind, in the 1990’s there was a black male who was 16, who was charged and convicted of statutory rape of a 15 year old white girl. The sex was consensual, but the community couldn’t tolerate a black teenager sleeping with a white teenager. Its okay the other way around of course. The history of democracy, the founding fathers, the president (aka King of democracy), Congress (quagmire of freedom), the judicial branch, media and international relationships are all parodied. Want to be president, but aren’t that popular? No worries, you don’t need a majority of votes, just strategically placed votes. Just ask Dubya, he didn’t win the popular vote. And when you finally become president, you can build lasers on the moon to shoot missiles, like Regan wanted to! All are created equal, which is why there were no black members of the senate in 2004! Campaigning? Its great… in fact its so much fun that most politicians spend more time campaigning than they spend actually working in the office they have been elected to! Media? Isn’t it funny that great reporting is rewarded with a Pulitzer, named after a news baron who had no care for legit reporting, he just wanted to sell papers and make money! The book is endlessly funny and is worth re-reading repeatedly! It tears apart American xenophobia, common stereotypes which express America’s inability to understand other cultures, illustrated the ineffective political system, and often how ineffective language can be, and project humanity as a monster with a tragically and hypocritical duality and thirst for self destruction. Its actually kind of scary if you can stop from laughing for a few minutes.

It’s the best and worst of democrazy!

If you like this, try:

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller: Like America (The Book), Catch-22 is a brilliant satire on humanity’s self-destructive duality, and it plays on the inefficiency of bureaucrazy and the inadequacies of language.

I Am America (And So Can You!): Presented by Stephan Colbert and the Colbert Report: This is in many ways the sister book of America (The Book). Colbert, who is even more effective at manipulating language, lampoons the extreme right with a black humour that is at once both terrifying and laughable, treads over much of the same topics as The Daily Show’s book, but through the hypocritical lens of the extreme right.

Earth: A Visitor’s Guide To the Human Race, presented by The Daily Show with John Stewart: I haven’t actually read all of this one, but I mean, its written by the same people, so… and it has a little more focus on the environment. I’ll offer more details after I’ve read it.

Words I thought I’d look up:

Look… there were a LOT of words I didn’t know in this one, and I was borrowing a friend’s copy of the book, so I couldn’t highlight and… well, lets just say you should really have google handy when you are reading this, both to look up terms and to separate fact from fiction.

Up next: The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemmingway

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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