I originally grabbed this book because I am a politics junkie. I am in my mid-30s and have often been struck by the contrast between the Democrat and Republican parties of my youth and their current incarnations. As the son of Democrat union member, I have seen significant changes in the Democratic party of my youth and the one of today that I can no longer uncritically support.
That being said, I was hopeful to gain some insight from Mr. Goldberg's book, but I am afraid I was disappointed. My biggest concern with this novel is that the vast majority of his arguments are anecdotal in nature. He offers extremely little background to back up some of his claims and no real research or footnotes. Now, as a collection of personal experience and stories, this is a fine book. Mr. Goldberg has an engaging writing style and did drawn me in, however I did find much of the book, and its arguments, to be superficial. The admitted lack of introspection on his political views made it difficult for me give much credibility to the author's analysis.
Probably, the biggest problem I have is the ultimate contradiction in the book. While Mr. Goldberg spends considerable time lauding the effect of music and media on the political discourse in the 60s and 70s, he does a complete 180 degree turn when he later argues that gangster rap cannot have an impact on the the coarsening of our culture and inner city violence. It seems to me that it is difficult to have it both ways. Of course, perhaps the fact that he is making a considerable amount of money in the music industry contributes to his new enlightened attitude.
Personally, I do not think that rap music makes the huge impact on people that the Leibermans and Gores of the world would have us believe, but Mr. Goldberg presents little in the way of a cohesive argument.
Perhaps that brings me to my underlying problem with the book. For all his complaints about the Democratic Party, Mr. Goldberg does not seem to realize that he is part of the problem. He complains of the money that influences politics, but drops names of all the people he has gotten to contribute time and money to political causes. He take jibes at the special interest businesses that he alleges influence the Republican party, while completely missing the fact that he is part of several special interest groups. And for a person in a business which exploits struggling artists for massive profits to not realize he is in a special interest group is a particularly myopic view.
Mr. Goldberg was in a position to make a truly impactful novel. I feel that he has missed his mark. More's the shame because the topic is one that really deserves serious attention.