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The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture [Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged] [MP3 CD]

David Mamet , Johnny Heller
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 9 2011
For the past thirty years, David Mamet has been a controversial and defining force in theater and film, championing the most cherished liberal values along the way. In some of the great movies and plays of our time, his characters have explored the ethics of the business world, embodied the struggles of the oppressed, and faced the flaws of the capitalist system.

But in recent years Mamet has had a change of heart. He realized that the so-called mainstream media outlets he relied on were irredeemably biased, peddling a hypocritical and deeply flawed worldview. In 2008 he wrote a hugely controversial op-ed for the Village Voice, "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal,'" in which he methodically eviscerated liberal beliefs. Now he goes much deeper, employing his trademark intellectual force and vigor to take on all the key political and cultural issues of our times, from religion to political correctness to global warming.

Mamet pulls no punches in his art or in his politics. And as a former liberal who woke up, he will win over an entirely new audience of others who have grown irate over America's current direction.

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Review

"A Manichean analysis from a strident new voice from the Right---for liberals, something intended to ignite antagonism; for the like-minded, a buttress against the opposition." ---Kirkus

About the Author

David Mamet is an acclaimed playwright, screenwriter, film director, and essayist whose many works include the Academy Award –nominated film Wag the Dog and the Pulitzer Prize–winning play Glengarry Glen Ross.

Johnny Heller has narrated some five hundred books and garnered a bunch of swell awards and accolades, including Publishers Weekly Listen-Up Awards, Audie Awards and nominations, AudioFile Earphones Awards, and selection as one of AudioFile magazine's Top 50 Narrators of the 20th Century.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Mamet Nails It Dec 10 2013
By Hank
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Former Progressive Mamet writes logically & convincingly about the folly of today's Progressive Movement. I recommended this book to a college professor friend in California who is a dyed-in-the-wool socialist (as so many of his colleagues are), and was almost startled by the virulent seething hatred that came my way.

Heh. Loved that reaction. Shows that Mamet has his facts right, and his book cuts the liberals to the bone. I recommend it highly.
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By judy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm disappointed, because I love his plays. I think he's missed the point! He's sided with 'the bad guys'. I'd like to read what someone else has to say.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great read. April 22 2013
By B. L. Trivers TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love the power of Mamets writing. He always nails it. This book should be read by everyone who thinks they know what's going on, so they can find out what's really going on.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  247 reviews
402 of 444 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incisive, thoughtful, literary analysis June 5 2011
By Andre - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The great irony that arrived on my iPad (via Kindle) with David Mamet's excellent book is that, as the dramatic authority of confidence games (e.g., House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner), for most of his life he was taken in by the confidence game of modern Liberalism. (Born and raised in Chicago, he still got conned.) Mamet is erudite, literary, and incisive in this set of linked essays. I rarely use the Kindle's highlight function, but I found myself highlighting more passages in the first third of his book than all 260 of the other books I have read on Kindle. His writing is that great. He resides in that specialized domain of an H. L. Mencken, or a Richard Mitchell (whose Underground Grammarian and several books are available free on the Web). He draws from Hayek and Sowell, among others, but is more fun to read. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

Chap. 1: "We cannot live without trade. A society can neither advance nor improve without excess of disposable income. This excess can only be amassed through the production of goods and services necessary or attractive to the mass. A financial system which allows this leads to inequality; one that does not leads to mass starvation."

Chap 2: "I will now quote two Chicago writers on the subject, the first, William Shakespeare, who wrote 'Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink'; the second, Ernest Hemingway, 'Call 'em like you see'em and to hell with it.'"

Chap 3: "The grave error of multiculturalism is the assumption that reason can modify a process which has taken place without reason, and with inputs astronomically greater than those reason might provide."

Chap 4: "College, while it may theoretically teach skills, also serves to delay the matriculation of the adolescent into society."

Chap 5: "No, the luckless product of our Liberal Universities, skill-less, will not touch that item his culture named taboo: work. So we see the proliferation, in the Liberal Communities, of counselors, advisors, life coaches, consultants, feng shui 'experts,' as the undereducated chickens come home to roost."

Chap 6: "A subjective system can never be shown to have failed. If its goals are indeterminate, general, and its progress incapable of measurement, how can its performance be faulted?"

Chap 7: "From the Left's point of view one need not work, and may not only Hope to be provided for, by this government, but may insist upon it."

Chap 8: "A Slave is not permitted to make these distinctions. Al of his behavior is circumscribed by the will of his master. The necessity of making distinctions is the essence of freedom, where one not only can but must choose...The essence of freedom was and is choice."

Chap 9: "...I was from Chicago. It was a rough city, ruled by Machine Politics, which ruled the state, and currently rules the country."

And that's just the first nine essays, in which I've highlighted many paragraphs. Mamet is essential reading for thoughtful conservatives and libertarians, and anyone else willing to stand the challenge of examining unchallenged assumptions. A tour de force. Thank you, David.
99 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Proved the Premise in One Hour June 2 2011
By M. Crobar - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
You will have to read the book to understand "the pellet".

I started this morning (after reading half the book) by talking to a liberal friend, who at times talks as if he is conservative, but when I point that out he clams up. So, the first thing I sent him was the Wall Street Journal interview with Mamet from May 28th, to which my friend responded with "he's a sellout and been corrupted by Rupert Murdoch and FoxNews and what else would you expect in the Wall Street Journal". "...have a pellet of food."

So, I sent him the Village Voice article, and his response was Mamet has sold out for the money and become a capitalist. "...get a pellet of food."

Then I read a paragraph from the book about getting a pellet, and his response, after a bit of silence was "I don't care". He "...got the pellet".

He is clearly one of the "wouldn't it be nice if everything was nice" liberals.

One of the best things about the book, as an almost life long conservative but having arrived there through some effort, (I didn't eat the pabulum) I not only couldn't disagree with any premise or observation, but found that Mamet put some things together and drew the cause and effect picture, that I'd not thought of.

The book is extremely entertaining, and I really felt like I was watching a play. It was a comedy, a tragedy and a morality play all in one and I didn't want an intermission. I couldn't put it down. I want more! FUN!

Oh, and I pre-ordered this for delivery on the 2nd and it arrived in my Kindle on iPad at 00:10. Neat!
504 of 570 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential apostate June 2 2011
By Sandy Winnich - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
David Mamet made a stir in 2008 with his Village Voice essay, "Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." This book is a fuller, wittier, and more scathing treatment of the same subject--a liberal screenwriter who has "seen the light."

Like other big media apostates, Andrew Breitbart, Tom Wolfe, John Stossel, Ben Stein, and Dennis Miller, Mamet realized the liberal assumptions that capitalism was evil and that Republicans were corporate lackeys had serious holes. When he began to investigate the logic behind free markets, he realized that it actually made sense. As Mamet puts it, modern liberalism is nothing more than a religion that its practitioners preach blindly on faith.

To examine the inanity of modern liberals, Mamet offers 39 entertaining essays that cover the gamut of modern living, including "Adventure Slumming," "Cabinet Spiritualism and the Car Czar," and, my favorite, "Oakton Manor and Camp Kawaga." Throughout the expose, Mamet makes use of his excellent perspective in the arts. With examples from his theater class, he shows exactly how absurd political correctness and the liberal agenda can be.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story and wants to peer into the ultra-liberal New York/L.A. big media mindset. Of course, the culture wars are just a symptom of the problem, and, for anyone who wants an examination of how we got into this situation, I recommend the brilliant Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It.
314 of 355 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Happened when Mamet turned off his Brain's Autopilot. June 2 2011
By Alex - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is not the story of David Mamet's transformation from liberal to freethinker who thinks his way into conservatism. Instead this is 39 short, well-written observations from someone who has encountered conservatism with virgin eyes, like Columbus looking on the Americas for the first time. These will all be familiar to conservatives who are well aware that there are good reasons underlying conservative thought and action.

Mamet's revelations can be a little amusing to long-time conservatives, like hearing your child come home from school and saying "in Australia the seasons are reversed! Christmas is the hottest time of the year, and July 4th the coldest!"

Perhaps his best epiphany is that everything is a trade-off in life. For example, realizing that there's a very real reason why a country that can send a man to the moon can't provide free school lunches to all; because that nation chose to send a man to the moon instead. Government can some of the things we want it to do, but not all.

"All human interactions are tradeoffs, one may theoretically offer cheap health insurance to the twenty million supposedly uninsured members of our society. But at what cost-the dismantling of the health care system of the remaining three-hundred million plus? What of the inevitable reduction, shortages, abuses, delay and injustice caused by State rationing? There's a cost for everything."

Lots more insightful observations like the neo-Puritanism on the Left, for example, at his child's school, where the familiar music mnemonic of Every Good Boy Does Fine is changed to Every Good Baby Does Fine, to avoid using the masculine 'boy.' More on the mind-numbing political conformity instilled by college, Diversity hypocrisy, Liberalism as a religion which has replaced religion, etc, etc.

Good for a Liberal who's able to calmly evaluate why one of his own opened his mind to a whole new way of thinking about the world, and for those who appreciate Mamet's artistry
106 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb, dazzling book! June 4 2011
By Geoff Puterbaugh - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I hope this book sells a billion copies and is read by everyone in America. (See? I'm in favor of hope & change, too!)

Well, that won't happen, but I suspect this book may be an effective converter of more than one leftie. Mamet's writing is crystal clear because his thinking is crystal clear. He is especially telling on the failure of our schools to teach anything useful, leaving us with a mass of liberal arts majors who hardly know how to spell, much less how to WORK. Mamet comes back to this again and again: the leftie dream is somehow to avoid doing work, just like Aristotle and his dream of the "contemplative life" --- The Nicomachean Ethics (Oxford World's Classics) --- or James Hilton's fantasy Lost Horizon --- where the unpleasant reality emerges (sooner or later) that the man living the contemplative life can only do so because of his slaves, and ditto for the lamasery of Lost Horizon. In the end, both books can be justly accused of being guides for the independently wealthy.

Capitalism is evil!! Oh, really? Do you mean the capitalism which built your house and your car, the capitalism which founded public libraries all across America, and created Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and the American university system? The capitalism which encouraged and sustained your grandfathers and fathers, the capitalism which brings you food to eat every day? The capitalism which threw off so much wealth it was able to guarantee the European peace for fifty years FOR FREE, and enable the Europeans to grow into fat-cat America-haters??

If that is evil, could we please see an example of something which is good?

Mamet never met a conservative before he was 60, but he has surely been playing catch-up like the virtuoso he is. This is a superb, dazzling book.

Highest possible recommendation!!
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