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


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.


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

Reid Harbin

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


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?”

Kelly Maybedog

This book taught me many things. It taught me that American History and Government is very boring. It taught me that even an hilarious parody of American History and Government cannot make the subject interesting. It taught me that it's not easy to get a good posed picture of an eagle. It also taught me that I am even more ignorant of popular culture than I think I am because there were some jokes I didn't get. I also learned that Stephen Colbert can look adorable in almost anything, even sadomasochism leathers.The book is a spoof of text books and a scathing social satire at the same time. The writers and editors were brilliantly creative, using a plethora of different ways (without using Powerpoint) to convey information to make us laugh. Edward R. Tufte would be proud. There were charts, graphs, maps, photos, polls, a pull out poster, discussion questions, sidebars, quotes, forms, games, paper dolls, drawings, scans, quizzes, even a flip book. Visually, the book was extremely appealing. The jokes were fresh and funny and I even laughed out loud at times. But American History is still boring.

Maggie Tolliver

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

Tom Pentland

A few years old now, so some of the political stuff is outdated. (I bought my copy used at a Goodwill for mere pennies on the dollar. PENNIES ON THE DOLLAR, bitches.). But funny is funny, and the satire remains as sharp and biting as you'd expect from The Daily Show geniuses.


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!


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.


This book is LOL funny but also commendably requires the reader to really focus on what they are reading because every page includes hilarious side notes and comments.When I first picked it up, I quickly became distracted by what I thought was the clunky design and puzzled over it, finally realizing Pentagram designed it and then, "lightbulb"! They meant to make it look like a poorly designed school textbook! Which made me find the book that much funnier.There are too many hilarious passages to mention all of them, so let me just leave you with two that really made me laugh. In the foreword, "Thomas Jefferson" writes: " If crack existed in our day, that boozed-up snuff machine [Ben Franklin] would weigh 80 pounds and live outside the Port Authority." And in the Judicial Branch chapter, a paralegal's 1931 account states: "The interior chamber is near dark. In the middle of the room, the justices float in a huge tank of brine. Their decisions and dissents are issued in whale-song and hastily recorded and interpreted by clerks".


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.


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!

David Gross

Sadly, not very funny nor witty nor insightful.

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