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

Lisa Vegan

One of the few times I enjoy the movie or tv show (in this case: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) more than the book. Took me a while appreciate the book, but there are many funny and clever parts in the book.

Debbie "DJ" Wilson

Jon Stewart is a wonderful comedian, and this book brings out the best of him and his teams humor. Every page brought a smile to my face, and I even learned a few things!


Clearly, this is the Daily Show group's best book of the four I've read. There were several moments I laughed and chuckled. However, once again, their humor doesn't always translate into book form and isn't as effective as the show. Maybe I'm being overly critical, but areas did get a little long. Still, the part that made me laugh the most was easily on Watergate and the cable television networks. That stuff was priceless. The later chapters went better than the earlier ones, and it ended on a really high note, but that's probably just due to my taste. Another fun, light, humorous book.

Pris robichaud

I Laughed, I Cried,, I Wept A Little, and Laughed Again, 19 Nov 2006 "This book has many fine qualities, but its cavalier disregard for accuracy of quotations, its insufficient scholarly documentation, its often quixotic use of illustrations, and its frequent usage of inappropriate language and word choices all detract from its virtues. With just a little more attention to detail, (well, in some cases, considerably more attention to detail), this book would stand as a first-rate addition to the literature." Prof. Stanley Schultz, Evaluation In 2004 'America, The Book" was let loose on the general public and gobbled up (pardon, but it is almost Thanksgiving) thousands of missives. However, much has changed in the past two years, and the authors have written a sequel, for 'teachers', or those most learned. As the authors say, "A sires of well-publicized scandals have called into question the very meaning of such terms as 'plagiarism', 'authenticity' and 'three-year crack binge'. In one of the paradigm shifts that periodically sweep the publishing world, truth has become this year's bullshit." They added Professor Schultz's notations on every page and sometimes his notations are the page. All in all, this book has the makings of the US History Book for all ages. Where to begin to describe this book, to shed a little light for those who unsuspecting buy the book and become part of the confused masses. To begin with there is a 'Timeline of Democracy' from Stonehenge through 1621 when the Plymouth Rock became too crowded and the Pilgrims left. The Founding of America, chapter 2 is filled with many mistakes, don't read it. Chapter 3 The president: King of Democracy has a few good points but go directly to chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. The Congress, The Judicial Branch, Campaigns and Elections and The Media. Anything and everything you ever did not want to know is included here. You may never vote again after reading these chapters, but so be it. Chapters 8 and 9, The Future of Democracy and The Rest of the World are to be read immediately, maybe start with these chapters and work backwards like the politicians do. Jon Stewart and his cronies, mmhmm, writers have penned a marvelous book full of lies and deceit. Some useful information may be gleaned if you look hard enough. Thomas Jefferson wrote the forward and that may be the most important piece of writing in the entire missive. I do recommend this book to all serious students of history and those who are not serious at all. For everyone and don't forget the teachers. Warily recommended for intelligentsia.. Heartily recommended for the rest of us. prisrob 11/19./06.


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.


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.


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

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.

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.


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)


I really associate this book with the lead-up to and outcome of the last presidential election, and so while I remember really enjoying this a lot at the time I read it, every time I look at it now I get a heavy, sick feeling deep in my bowels, and I kind of feel like killing myself. It makes me flash back to riding the train around for work on November 3, 2004 with one of the most soul-crushing, emotionally annihilating hangovers I've ever had in my life. I remember staring at an excerpt of Yeats's "Second Coming" hanging up on one of those little poetry-on-the-subway ads, just numbly reading the lines over and over and listening to Nina Simone singing "Oh Child" on my headphones, and periodically starting to sob.It was a bad day and, I think, an important developmental milestone. I mean, these past four years haven't really been so bad, have they? Well, for some others, yeah, but not for me. I really felt like that was the end of the world. I also felt this profound alienation from the rest of my country that was painful but probably necessary.Anyway, so somehow I associate this book with that time, and with seeing ole Chuck Schumer on the Daily Show a couple days later, just regurgitating the same old exhausted, embarrassing garbage -- "What the American People really want is what the Democratic Party has been offering them all along" -- and Jon Stewart practically shaking him, being like, "Don't you fucking GET it, retard??? Have you been in a COMA all week???? Obviously they DON'T!!! What are you SAYING? What is WRONG with you people????" And Schumer just being like, "Er, well, um... uh....?"Anyway, so this book, while funny, really depresses me. Maybe I won't take it with me when I move.

Maggie Tolliver

You actually learn a lot about how insane the system actually is. (and if you wanna laugh about it get this book.


From Publishers WeeklyCheeky, irreverent and playfully ingenuous, this abbreviated history of democracy is everything one would expect from the writers of Comedy Central's fake news program, which recently (and somewhat scandalously) won the Television Critics Association's award for outstanding news and public affairs series. The book is laid out like a textbook, with "Discussion Questions" ("Why do you think the Framers made the Constitution so soul-crushingly boring?"), "Classroom Activities" ("Using felt and yarn, make a hand puppet of Clarence Thomas. Ta-da! You're Antonin Scalia!") and plenty of amusing graphics, including a board game that resembles the game Life but which follows a presidential term: "Optimistic press release on economy ineffective. Spin again." No one evades the authors' scrutiny, not even the Pilgrims, who came to America "to escape religious persecution... create a society where they could worship as they pleased and one day, God willing, even do some persecuting of their own." The media fares the worst, however. An entire chapter is devoted to telling the "inspirational" story of how the media "transformed itself from a mere public necessity into an entertaining profit center for ever-expanding corporate empires." But if this and other criticisms kindle a few unpatriotic feelings, a section describing how worse off the rest of the world is should buoy spirits. From its dedication ("To the huddled masses—Keep yearnin'!") to its final chapter, which lampoons the 2004 presidential candidates, this humorous sendup of American politics never fails to entertain, poke fun and provoke thought.


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.


I listened to the audio version of this book on both legs of a cross-country trip. I'll warn others who are thinking of doing the same that you will either be stifling your laughter to not bother your neighbors, or you will be laughing out loud and looking mighty strange. Hearing Jon Stewart's narration of the text, with his perfect timing, made this a very enjoyable listen. Some of the humor just came from crassness i.e. the thought of Patrick Henry calling someone "fucknuts," but for the most part, this was incredibly on the mark satire. The chapter on Campaigns was so eerily spot-on for this recent election, its hard to believe it was written a few years ago. Highly recommended!

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