Synopses & Reviews
Levees break in New Orleans. Iraq descends into chaos. The housing market teeters on the brink of collapse. Americans of all political stripes are heading into the 2008 election with the sense that something has gone terribly wrong with American politics. But what exactly? Democrats blame Republicans and Republicans blame Democrats. Greedy corporate executives, rogue journalists, faulty voting machines, irresponsible defense contractors-we blame them, too. The only thing everyone seems to agree on, in fact, is that the American people are entirely blameless
In Just How Stupid Are We?, best-selling historian and renowned myth-buster Rick Shenkman takes aim at our great national piety: the wisdom of the American people. The hard truth is that American democracy is more direct than ever-but voters are misusing, abusing, and abdicating their political power. Americans are paying less and less attention to politics at a time when they need to pay much more: Television has dumbed politics down to the basest possible level, while the real workings of politics have become vastly more complicated. Shenkman offers concrete proposals for reforming our institutions the government, the media, civic organizations, political parties to make them work better for the American people. But first, Shenkman argues, we must reform ourselves.
"Providing fascinating background and current observations, Shenkman is ultimately optimistic. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"A smart, stylish, and witty wrestling match with the most difficult problem a democracy can face." Rick Perlstein, author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of American Consensus
"At a moment when Americans are choosing leaders, Rick Shenkman's brisk, provocative and vigorously argued book implores us to rethink our roles as citizens and improve our political environment. There could not be a better time for this important message." Michael Beschloss
"The bad news is that Americans are ignorant, shortsighted, and swayed by meaningless phrases; the good news is that things could get better if we start speaking honestly about the problem. Rick Shenkman's book is a crucial starting point in that process." Jon Wiener, Professor of History at University of California at Irvine and author of Historians in Trouble
"With wit, passion and devastating evidence, Shenkman compels us, the praised and petted 'American people,' to look in the mirror for an explanation of why our elections are travesties of informed, intelligent debate. Lively and crucial, the book reminds us, however we vote, that there's no such animal as 'democracy for dummies.'" Bernard A. Weisberger, author of America Afire
"As everyone is rushing to assign blame for the current financial crisis in Washington and on Wall Street, there has been little mention of the role voters played. President George W. Bush's approval ratings have sunk to subterranean lows, and, for all the hand wringing going on, no one has addressed the obvious question: why did a smidge over 50% of the voting public re-elect a president whose clearly-stated policies created such turmoil?" Gerry Donaghy, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
Politicians tell us constantly that they trust the wisdom of The American People.” New York Times best-selling author Rick Shenkman explains why we shouldnt-at least when it comes to politics
About the Author
Rick Shenkman is an award-winning investigative reporter, a New York Times best-selling author, and the editor and founder of George Mason University's History News Network, a website that features articles by historians on current events. An associate professor of history at George Mason University, he appears regularly as a commentator on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. He books include Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History and Presidential Ambition: How the Presidents Gained Power, Kept Power, and Got Things Done. He lives in Seattle, Washington.