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


Very clever. Wish I had thought this up.


Try to do yourselves a favor and get your hands on the audiobook version. While the experience is quite different in the absence of the visuals (a BIG part of the book's humor), there's something to be said for hearing all of the DS's original cast reading passages of the book aloud. Most hilarious is Stephen Colbert's lessons for teachers/quiz questions at the end of each chapter. The audiobook made a long trip to Austin from Dallas that much faster! Beware! It might get you laughing so hard you'll commit a traffic violation.

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.

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.


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.


Published on my book blog.I'm a big fan of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, but for some reason I'd never felt curious to read any of their books until this year. I considered starting with Earth (the book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race, but thought I'd go through this older one first.I have to admit, when I started I was a bit taken aback. I don't know what I expected, but the first chapter ("Democracy before America") was written with such an unapologetic disregard for History that I couldn't even find it funny, at first. However, once the initial "shock" had passed, this book got funny as hell. It's opinionated, scandalous, hilarious, and so spot-on that my bittersweet feeling of not knowing whether to laugh or get depressed was sustained throughout the whole book.This is presented in the form of an educational book for children, and since the content couldn't be further away from that demographic, it's doubly funny to see "helpful" diagrams, maps, games and illustration to help the reader understand a little better this wonderful but deeply flawed thing we call Democracy.Highly recommended. Read with an open mind!

Reid Harbin

Brilliant satire of a broken system. Some parts are just insanely funny


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.


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.

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!


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??

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.

Maggie Tolliver

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


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.


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.

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