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Attention Deficit Democracy Hardcover – January 5, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; First edition. edition (January 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403971080
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403971081
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,009,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

That mendacity has long been a bedrock of government makes Bovard (Lost Rights; The Bush Betrayal) mad as hell, and he takes administrations from Johnson's to Bush II's to task for distorting, concealing and fabricating facts and condemning voices of dissent as unpatriotic and damaging to democracy. Bovard places past and current administrations' justifications for military actions (Johnson in Vietnam, Reagan in Iran, Bush I in Kuwait, Clinton in the Balkans and Bush II in Iraq) alongside the facts of each case, an approach that benefits greatly from hindsight and serves to insulate his argument from partisan criticism. Clearly, it's government, not the liberals or conservatives who man the helm for any period of time. Government, though, can only be as crooked as the public and media allow it to be, Bovard argues, decrying voters who vote for a candidate because he "wears a cowboy hat" and the media for not being vigilant enough in calling out wayward politicians. Bovard describes problems in painstaking detail, but he is less adept at offering solutions, blandly encouraging Americans to cultivate "a higher grade of patriotism." Readers up-to-date on the headlines will learn little, but those looking for a rousing refresher on the merits of skepticism will find it here in spades.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A lively attack on politicians, voters and government. Bovard's indictment of an ineffective but ever-expanding federal government would make any libertarian proud." --The New York Post

"A comprehensive attack on the administration from a less-often-heard place on the political spectrum." --Publishers Weekly

"Bovard explains how supposedly free citizens have bought into the lies and frauds offered by the political class.... Bovard offers wise counsel and sage advice."
--The Orange County Register
"Bovard makes his most salient points about the hazards facing a depoliticized public."--The Washington Times

"We ignore Jim Bovard's work at the risk of being repeatedly...'betrayed' by the siren songs of presidential candidates of both parties."
--Former congressman Bob Barr, American Conservative
"Attention Deficit Democracy not only diagnoses our national malady, it provides a remedy as well. If you care about the loss of our liberty, have people read this book. Once Bovard gets their blood boiling, they start paying attention!" --Charles Goyette, Air America
"Spectacular... Attention Deficit Democracy displays Bovard's emergence as a formidable prose stylist. Relentlessly incisive and epigrammatic, Bovard at his best reminds me of Nock and Mencken. And in the course of nearly 300 pages, he very rarely - if ever - descends from that exalted level.”              
--Will Grigg, Editor in Chief, New American
“Readers looking for a rousing refresher on the merits of skepticism will find it here in spades.” -- Publishers Weekly
“Bovard is an iconoclast's iconoclast. While much of the western world  unquestioningly accepts democracy's pretenses... Bovard not only questions those pretenses, he proves them false.... Bovard yanks the curtain off the voting booth.” -- Becky Akers,  Counterpunch
“Bovard is a partisan of neither major party, only of liberty.... The American people must start paying attention, and thus start being more outraged. Reading Attention Deficit Democracy is a perfect place start." -- Anthony Gregory, Freedom Daily
“Our modern-day Thomas Paine has done it again.  In Attention Deficit Democracy Bovard bombards us with the same high level of unfettered ‘Common Sense’ perspective on freedom that we've come to expect from him."
-- Joe Fondren, WRJM, Alabama radio
“Playing fast and loose.... Bombthrower....  A grating tone....  Overheated....  Trafficking in shopworn dissident rhetoric...  Character assassinations... Such smearing is all in a day's work for Mr. Bovard...”  -- Washington Times
“It is fantastic. I could not stop thinking about it. It is the unheard truth behind what is happening in the United States.” -- Liz Skrobiszewski, WRIR Richmond, Virginia.

“This is an amazing book... A fantastic job... Bovard is  one of the best writers for freedom in the world today.” -- Gardner Goldsmith, WNTK New Hampshire 
“It is a great book. People should not read this book unless they are willing to have their arms twisted  to think for themselves.” -- Ron Smith, WBAL, Baltimore
"Attention Deficit Democracy is Bovard's best book. You can open it up anywhere, start reading, and every paragraph will smack you upside the head."
--Brian Wilson, WSPD Toledo
It ‘s a wonderful book. It is really thought provoking. Anyone who wants to think out there is in for a treat with this book." -- Bill Borst, WGNU Radio St. Louis
"Bovard is one of my favorite authors... Attention Deficit Democracy is kind of a painful read." -- Jan Mickleson, WHO Iowa radio
Bovard... is one of very few journalists who are both pro-freedom and willing to dig... The dry wit is vintage Bovard, and is plentiful throughout Attention Deficit Democracy. Such Menckenesque touches are much appreciated... "   Sunni Maravilossa, Internet maven
“Attention Deficit Democracy is a wake-up call to the American people. As Bovard reveals one ridiculous lie after another, you won't know whether to laugh or cry.”     Laissez Faire Books
“James Bovard has hit another one out of the park... Americans may suffer from an attention deficit when it comes to their government, but your attention will be riveted on this book. By the time I reached the final page, my copy bristled with Post-It notes marking Jim's brilliant observations, startling facts, and wickedly witty statements.” Claire Wolfe, author

More About the Author

James Bovard is the author of Public Policy Hooligan (Kindle version 2012), Attention Deficit Democracy (St. Martin's/Palgrave, 2006), and eight other books. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Playboy, Washington Post, New Republic, Reader's Digest, and many other publications. His books have been translated into Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, and Korean. He is a contributing editor for the American Conservative and a regular contributor to the Future of Freedom monthly, published by the Future of Freedom Foundation.

The Wall Street Journal called Bovard 'the roving inspector general of the modern state,' and Washington Post columnist George Will called him a 'one-man truth squad.' His 1994 book Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty received the Free Press Association's Mencken Award as Book of the Year. His Terrorism and Tyranny won the Lysander Spooner Award for the Best Book on Liberty in 2003. He received the Thomas Szasz Award for Civil Liberties work, awarded by the Center for Independent Thought, and the Freedom Fund Award from the Firearms Civil Rights Defense Fund of the National Rifle Association.

His writings have been been publicly denounced by the chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Postmaster General, and the chiefs of the U.S. International Trade Commission, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as well as by many congressmen and other malcontents.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Doepke on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's probably a measure of the author's "attention deficit" thesis that many well-meaning folks mistake Bovard for a liberal because of his unsparing criticisms of the Bush administration. He's not. Instead he belongs to that vanishing school of thought known as traditional conservatism. The work serves as a reminder for true political conservatives-- I don't mean the empire-building, corporate cronies of the Bush administration-- and should come as a breath of fresh air to them.

The text argues vigorously for a minimalist state on the classic grounds that state power inevitably threatens precious individual liberty, while the only democratic check on the rise of a threatening "Leviathan" rests with a knowledgable citizenry. In Bovard's view, the problem with today's citizenry is they lack both an understanding of constitutional principles and a concern with protecting tthem. In short, the democracy suffers from attention deficit. Thus constitutional liberties are being forfeited to an ever-expanding state apparatus, particularly in the aftermath of 9-11.

The book's strength lies in detailing this abandonment, which Bovard executes with style and vigor. As a non-conservative who stands to lose the same rights, I'm glad to see the few remaining traditionalists stand up to the radicals who think that opposing gay marriage and abortion-- at the same time they override constitutional protections, run up huge war-making deficits, and meddle in the internal affairs of other nations-- are enough to merit the title of conservative.

Although there are assumptions readers (including myself) may take exception to, the factual evidence Bovard marshals remains unassailable thanks to follow-up disclosures on headlines of the day.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Philip Mayor on January 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In his latest offering James Bovard does an excellent job of proving that Murrow's warning has come to pass in no uncertain terms.

With his top notch research, an excellent blending of historical as well as up to the moment events; this writer has once again shown that to allow Washington to conduct unsupervised activities is to pass to our children a disgraceful legacy, along with a mortgage that they will never pay off.

Bovard shows THE BIG PICTURE is distracting the people from all of the components of its making. As well as how all of those components effect the lives of all Americans not only today, but for generations to come.

It is a very sobering read.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on February 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"Attention Deficit Democracy" addresses what Bovard sees as rising ignorance of the electorate, fear mongering tactics that permeate U.S. presidential elections, and our Messianic Democracy (long history of deceit and foreign manipulation in the name of spreading democracy). In Bovard's opinion "the will of the people" is often simply a measure of how many people fell for which lies, and/or were frightened by which advertisements.

The bulk of the book consists of a seemingly endless series of surveys showing American voters as uninformed, often with major consequences for rational voting. For example, a University of Maryland 10/04 poll concluded "It is clear that supporters of the president are more likely to have misperceptions (eg. linking Saddam to 9/11) than those who oppose him." Another survey found that each time new warnings of terrorist threats became public, Bush's approval rating rose an average 3%.

Clearly modern democracy and representative government are based on faith that the people can control what they do not understand - the myriad of often inter-locking issues of today. While Bovard does not present anything near a compelling case establishing that today's voters are less knowledgeable than their predecessors, it is clear that government complexity and involvement has grown by leaps and bounds. Thus, it does not require any great amount of analysis to conclude that being an informed citizen similarly requires a never-ending increase in learning what is happening. A few factoids are no longer enough; meanwhile, newspaper readership levels have declined from 60% in '92 to 40% in '02. (The significance of this finding, however, is unclear - obviously citizens could also be obtaining increased knowledge via TV and the Internet.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on July 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Today is a good day I think to write about the successes and failures of American representative government, and it's been a long time since I've read a better survey of those failures than James Bovard's "Attention Deficit Democracy." This book is nothing less than, to borrow a phrase Bovard himself borrows from John Taylor, a "commission to overthrow political idolatry" -- which shows, of course, why so many strong feelings come to the fore when people read his writings.

Bovard's career is evident proof of the saying of Charles Beard that the quickest way to get yourself a reputation as a troublemaker and extremist is to go around saying the same things the Founders said in 1776. Bovard's problem is that he takes history seriously. He takes concepts and the meaning of words seriously. Most of all, he takes liberty seriously. He further places himself outside the pale when he uncompromisingly criticizes both Republicans and Democrats. When he took on President Clinton in book after book, it may have been easy enough to categorize Bovard as a "conservative." But now that he's giving President Bush the same treatment, what are we to do about him? Because clearly, there is no morally acceptable ground outside that staked out by the two "opposing" parties.

But enough sarcasm. In "Attention Deficit Democracy," Bovard is saying things that need to be said -- things which should be self-evident to any open-minded observer.
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