America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction

ISBN: 0713998946
ISBN 13: 9780713998948
By: Jon Stewart John Oliver

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About this book

Jon Stewart, host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show, and his coterie of patriots, deliver a hilarious look at American government.American-style democracy is the world's most beloved form of government, which explains why so many other nations are eager for us to impose it on them. But what is American democracy? In America (The Book), Jon Stewart and The Daily Show writing staff offer their insights into our unique system of government, dissecting its institutions, explaining its history and processes, and exploring the reasons why concepts like one man, one vote, government by the people, and every vote counts have become such popular urban myths. Topics include: Ancient Rome: The First Republicans; The Founding Fathers: Young, Gifted, and White; The Media: Can it Be Stopped?; and more!

Reader's Thoughts

Sarah Bauer

I'm only to chapter 4, but I'm LOVING this. A: It's good to be reminded of our past B: reading the history of our country with Stewart's dry, sarcastic tone is AWESOMELY entertaining. Very fun.


I got this as a gift because my friend knew I love Jon Stewart. If I had picked it up at a bookstore and perused a few pages I wouldn't have bought it. It was ok and at times humorous but it didn't really add anything to my life. I still watch his show here and there of course, but I wanted more from his book.


I know Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, and Colbert are more honest and reliable news sources than the rest of the media, I just don't believe it.Ironically, it is that same gap between knowledge and belief that has resulted in this sad state.the reactionary, opinionated pundits keep talking down to these little basic-cable comedy shows, but the fact that their feathers are so ruffled shows that they are afraid, and that they consider this to be as serious as the rest of us.Why is Stewart the journalist who asks hard questions about the war? Why does he seem utterly ridiculous when he simply imitates real people? Why is Colbert the one who asked the senator who tried to put the ten commandments in his state courthouses (Lynn Westmoreland) just what they actually were, showing that the senator could name only three?More importantly, why doesn't this invigorate or upset anyone? Colbert's White House Press Corp address was the most impressive and honest satire on the state of our politics and the media who serve them. The fact that it was the only one should not diminish it.The world is gone mad. If Revelation is come, I can only hope that even bad Christians get to go to heaven, because I don't want to be stuck here with the likes of Bush and Westmoreland. If I didn't have a front seat to the odd implosion of American culture, I might think about moving to Canada.Oh yes, and Reuters has been bought out.


I was all for this book. It was VERY funny and quite entertaining, until I saw pics of all supreme court justices faces photoshopped onto naked bodies. (Shudder)


A very funny, very profane satire of a history/ civics textbook written by the staff of the fake news show “The Daily Show.” This is my favorite (and the only serious) part. “A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy. It serves to inform the voting public on matters relevant to its well - being. Why they’ve stopped doing that is a mystery. I mean, 300 camera crews outside a courthouse to see what Kobe Bryant is wearing when the judge sets a hearing date, while false information used to send our country to war goes unchecked? What the fu$% happened?”


Liked it, but didn't love it. The funniest segments of the book were written by Samantha Bee, who does a dead-on version of a Canadian commenter (she's Canadian, of course, which helps!). The rest of it is wildly uneven in comedy quality, although on the whole it hits a bullseye. I think I just expected more after the level of The Daily Show's writing.


Very clever. Wish I had thought this up.


Full Disclosure--I am addicted to The Daily Show. When I miss the show, I can be found at my desk at work sneaking a peek at the internet repeat. So this was absolutely the book for me. A totally entertaining look at the "citizen's guide of democracy inaction". Lots of moments when I found myself laughing out loud. That wouldn't be so bad, but again I was at my desk. I really need to get a grip on my behavior. Loved this book.

Mark Farley

If anyone has not seen Jon Stewart's Comedy Central/More4 show, then why ever not? His prizewinning show scares the right wing media pundits into submission with his current influence on the young of America. Startling statistics show that rather than network news, the 18-25 bracket get all they need to know from Stewart's irreverence and pointing out of cronyism and stupidity in the corridors of the White House and the Senate. It's way funnier in a simple way with all the essential political facts that Bremner, Bird and Fortune tends to baffle us all with. This book is Jon's essential history of the great land he calls home...


Ok, so I like John Stewart. And, in fact, I did think this book was funny. Stewart manages to mix humor and truth alone with his own personal brand of criticism and sarcasm. It's a smart kind of funny. If you can't figure out the tone, you're never going to get most of the jokes. You're never going to understand what he's telling you and, the perfectly valid points he makes about our government.I like that it's an "interactive" book. It's not just a straight read, start to finish. There's pictures and graphs and diagrams that interrupt the reading. Which I liked, though some people may not.But, at the end of the day, it comes down to one thing: your interest in politics. And, as we all hopefully know by now, I'm just not interested in politics. Do I think Stewart is funny? Yes. Do I think he makes his point well? Yes. And if you like politics and are interested in our poitical system, I think you'll like this a whole lot more than I did.However, I got kind of bored at some points because it's just not totally a subject I'm interested in. So, three stars for me, but probably four if I actually were interested in the subject matter.


Unintentionally procrastinated for a month on writing a review for this book, so it's definitely no longer fresh in my mind. I can't help but compare this to Stephen Colbert's first book, I am America, which is so thick with satirical irony that if I listen too closely it makes my head hurt. America (The Book), in contrast, is laced with satire as well as just plain silliness, making it a lighter, more enjoyable read. I particularly loved the "educational" format of the book, particularly the discussion questions and classroom activities. Though I was gravely disappointed that the audiobook version was abridged. Why even make a print version when the audio version has Jon Stewart and other Daily Show cast members reading it to you??

Mike Hankins

I must admit, I’m quite a fan of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. In a sea of ridiculous immature and unethical news reporting brought to us by the big corporations, Stewart is not only hilarious, but often offers key insight. It is sad to me that a comedy show, brought to us by the same network that thought prank-calling puppets was funny, has risen to be one the most insightful sources of news and politics. That said, America (the Book) held great promise for me. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver.Stewart quickly settles into a predictable shtick of summing up vast swaths of inaccurate history, finishing each paragraph with an amusing exaggeration or silly comment. He then backs this up with fake quotes from historical figures. It’s all well and good, but it gets very predictable very fast. The jokes are all very low-hanging fruit. The sharp, sardonic wit that Stewart is known for on his show are almost completely absent here, replaced with lame, dull jokes that feel like they were written by a much less worthy comedian.There are a few chuckles here and there. Few of the jokes are outright bad, most are just hum-drum. The pattern of it becomes incredibly monotonous: say two things that are simplifications but kind of true, follow it up with a silly comment. Then have fake Thomas Jefferson say something even more silly. See how Thomas Jefferson would never have said that? It’s funny! No, it’s not funny. You’ll see the jokes coming from a mile away, and while there are a small handful of snicker-out-loud moments, they just leave a lot to be desired.Some of the other Daily Show participants chime in with essays here and there. Ed Helms, Stephen Colbert Samantha Bee, and others try to enliven the book, but don’t succeed any more than Stewart himself does. The one moment where the book got really interesting was the beginning of the chapter on the media, where Stewart goes on a tirade about the irresponsibility and disgusting immorality of the current state of mainstream news reporting before a fake “editor” interrupts to put the book back on its mediocre track. The moment almost serves as a reminder of what the book could have been, although the passage is far too polemical to be used as a template. However, the reader gets the feeling that somewhere behind this book is a more insightful, more hilarious book that dealt with real issues in a funnier, more realistic way.Ultimately, this feels like an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the show and get some extra cash out of it. Thus, it feels completely phoned-in. It’s not the worst book ever, and it’s just the right length. The average reader could crank through it in about an hour and a half. It’s probably good for a short plane ride, or a couple of stints in the waiting room or post-office line. Unfortunately, Stewart leaves his readers waiting for him to write a real book.It should be noted that this review refers to the audiobook version of this book.

David Gross

Sadly, not very funny nor witty nor insightful.


John Stewart, in his Daily Show tone, takes us on an irreverent tour of the inner workings of the US Government. A little history, a little political science, and a lot of snarky commentary comprise the majority of this book, which is formatted much like a high school textbook. After telling us the story of Greek Democracy, the Roman Forum, and the Magna Carta, John shows us how it all came together with the proverbial "Founding Fathers," who he notes, would be totally unelectable in this day and age (what with all their philandering, cavalier religious views, pock-marked faces and bad teeth and all...) and how they came up with the Declaration of Independence and Aricles of Confederation, the latter which was aptly replaced by the now-holy Constitution.John spares no expense to identify the sharp contrast between the ideals expressed in these documents and the stark realities of a slave-holding, misogynistic, [insert trait here:]-ist world. He goes through each branch of the Government, examines how each has outgrown its stated responsibilities, and brings us to the present day, through sarcastic vignettes, ridiculous chapter recaps by Stephen Colbert, and outrageous "classroom activities."Ultimately, though, John notes that if you think America is an awful place to live, then clearly you've lived nowhere else. For all its failures to live up to its ideology and principles, America is the best we've ever had.The last segment of the book is a bit dated. It has a profile on George W. Bush and one on John Kerry. This section was clearly intended for a 2004 audience, but, from a 2009 Obama-anxious point of view, it's a rare glimpse in the zeitgeist of the previous election cycle.


The audio book was entertaining for a drive. Predictable- but some good laughs.

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