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Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free Hardcover – Jun 2 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (June 2 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767926145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767926140
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 3.1 x 21.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #413,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“A raucous rant against the armies of the right. . . . Pierce is at his scathing, insightful best.”
The Boston Globe
“A lively and, dare I say, intelligent study of the ongoing assault on gray matter.”
—Stephen Amidon, The New York Observer
“[A] witty and pointed indictment of our nation’s disturbing ability to vilify smart people and elevate chowderheads to positions of power and influence.”
The Salt Lake Tribune

“For a good (if painful) laugh about creationism and other bits of American lunacy, try Charles Pierce’s Idiot America. It’s a funny, sly version of an argument made recently by Al Gore in The Assault on Reason, and by the brilliant Susan Jacoby in The Age of American Unreason.”
—John A. Farrell,
“There is only one Charles Pierce, and while that may be a good thing, it is also a damn good thing we have his unique combination of gonzo, erudition, fearlessness, and eloquence to help us make sense of a senseless world. I stand in awe, and appreciation.”
—Eric Alterman, author Why We’re Liberals and When Presidents Lie
“Pierce penetrates, and the world feels less idiotic already.”
—Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabet Juice and Long Time Leaving
“Charles Pierce takes us on a brilliant and hilarious tour of the back roads of American idiotocracy through history—skewering Atlantis-seekers, evolution deniers, jackasses, nincompoops, and right-wing know-it-alls with his trademark sledgehammer wit. Reading Pierce’s Idiot America, I laughed myself stupid.”
—Amy Dickinson, author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville
“Engaging. . . . Pierce delivers a rapier-sharp rant on how the America of Franklin and Edison, Fulton and Ford has devolved into America the Uninformed.”
Publishers Weekly
“There’s a guy down at the end of the bar who’s furiously angry, hilariously funny, and has an Irish poet’s talent for language. He’s been traveling the country, and he’s been alternately appalled and moved by what he’s found there, and, lucky you, he wants to tell you all about it. Listen.”
—Peter Sagal, author of The Book of Vice and host of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About the Author

CHARLES P. PIERCE has been a writer-at-large for Esquire since 1997 and is a frequent contributor to American Prospect and Slate. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Nation, The Atlantic, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications, and he is a regular on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Only a Game.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alison S. Coad TOP 50 REVIEWER on June 8 2011
Format: Paperback
In "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free," journalist Charles P. Pierce does a fine job of bringing together the various components (ideology-driven government that had no use for facts; the unique American trait of assuming that since everyone is equal, my completely unfounded opinions on any given topic are as valid as those of experts who have studied the given topic for 40 years; and the rise of the Internet, a world of instantaneous communication where anybody can, and does, proclaim his/her beliefs at FULL CAPITALIZED FURY all the time) which resulted in the tremendously deep abyss in which the US now finds itself economically, morally and politically. This was published after Obama became the Democratic nominee for President but before the 2008 elections, and it focuses primarily, not surprisingly, on the Bush years. Pierce makes a case for America having always had its cranks and crackpots, people who enjoyed a full hearing and who even sometimes persuaded others that their crazy ideas had merit, but he notes that these were always fringe people, and now they have are center-stage. As just one example, he spends some time talking about the case in Dover, Pennsylvania, where the school board was taken over by creationists in around 2003/2004 and began insisting that "intelligent design" be taught in biology classes alongside evolution; this situation ended up in court, where the arguments put forth by the school board were thoroughly debunked (my favourite line comes from one of the creationists, a pastor named Mummert, who actually said, straight-faced, "we've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of our culture"!).Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Thompson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Oct. 20 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is about a rising anti-intellectualism in America and how it translates into a 'dumbing-down' of the nation as a whole. In the main, it is entertaining and enjoyable but, for a few reasons, it only rated three stars for me. The author adopted a format wherein he commences sections with an anecdote about Presdident Madison (for the author, an icon of rationalism and intelligence) and he then segues into a topical discussion of some modern idiocy. It was a clever structural idea, I suppose, but was not well implemented. In the first place, the connection between the anecdote and the discussion was often tenuous at best (and the anecdotes not always that interesting) but the main criticism I had is that there was annoying switch in prose characteristics between the two. While the topical discussions were generally lively, humorous and with a quick, upbeat tempo, the Madison passages were often slow and a bit tedious. For this reader, at least, he effect was jarring and did not work at all.I also found that the book languished toward the end. The material on the Iraq invasion could have been much more interesting. Unfortunately, the author seemed to have been running out of steam and the jaunty wittiness of earlier parts of the book was missing. Despite the weaknesses, however, I mostly enjoyed the book and will probably read it again.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ronald W. Maron TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 26 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although I found the writing to be choppy at times and that the contrasts between James Madison and today's national situation to be somewhat forced, I did give this text '5 Stars'. My reasoning is that this is a book that all Americans should digest and more fully understand. This book is a classic primer about what is going wrong in America. The most obvious fault behind her demise is the dumbing-down of her citizenry. People are more interested in listening to the charlatans like Glenn Beck or being led through a Creationist Museum so that their ignorant and baseless thoughts can be not only reinforced but applauded by the 'experts'. Any country that will have people taking to the streets displaying pictures from the Halocaust because an existing administration is attempting to reduce health care costs while improving services, needs to take its pulse to see if it is still has one. Charles Dickens once wrote that the ires of a society are solely based on two factors; ignorance and want. And while we should fear want, the greatest threat to a society is ignorance. Charles Pierce does an admirable job of showing how ignorance has spread throughout the US like a plague of locus. For those readers who do not realize the magnitude of the problems that our ignorant culture has created, the reading of "Idiot America" is a good place to start.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the title says it all...a well written witty but erudite look at america in the 21st century as it races to a national dumb down. Pierce's take on current US politics juxtaposed against Madison's treatise on the role of government is a wake up call to anyone who sees the tea party as anything more than kranks to re-think.
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Format: Paperback
I can imagine how this book would sit with many Americans. In fact, I think I'd pay to watch them read it.

Pierce is just And I'm not being sarcastic here. He nails so much so well about 'What's Going On in The Land of The Free' that as much as I enjoyed his handiwork, there were moments when I wondered if it was overkill.

And then I took in the coverage of 'Black Friday' recently a whole pile of stuff besides and realized that 'there's no such thing as 'overkill' in this situation.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a great addition to the others I've been reading lately about the general state of affairs. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting an intellectual kick-start.
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