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Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America Paperback – Bargain Price, August 19, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beckel and Thomas, political analysts and columnists for USA Today, examine the problem of political polarization by asking, Why are you reading this book? The answer: Bottom line... you are ticked off at politics. Rigid partisan beliefs, they think, have become more than a product of opposing ideologies—they have created an environment for the sole purpose of retaining political power, raising money, or making more money... benefit[ing] a few at the expense of many. Using a mix of arguments and anecdotes, Beckel and Thomas (a liberal and a conservative, respectively) assert that polarization creates conscientious nonvoters and congressional roughhousing and deceit. The book's ultimate purpose is to disarm partisan warfare by encouraging voters and candidates to align themselves with principles that directly benefit the largest possible number of citizens. The lucid political discussion between a conservative and liberal is refreshing, but their proposals are too utopian to realistically be widely embraced. Their proposition that independent thinking can be more effective than an adversarial pack mentality is a step in the right direction, though. (Oct. 9)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Cal Thomas, a conservative, writes a twice-weekly syndicated column and is a frequent panelist on Fox News Watch.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061236357
  • ASIN: B0046LUDWE
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,221,178 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Paul Tognetti TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I used to consider myself to be a political junkie. For a good many years I found myself spending at least 1 to 2 hours each weekday evening and a couple of hours every Sunday morning watching programs like CNN's "Crossfire", "Hardball" with Chris Matthews and ABC's "This Week" to name but a few. Then about 4 years ago I suddenly stopped watching. I simply could not take it any more. I had tired of all of the talking heads bickering and pointing fingers. I was tired of the gridlock. I made up my mind that my time was better spent reading about the important issues of the day. According to co-authors Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas there are lots of folks like me who have tuned out politics. And if the results of the early primaries in both parties in 2008 is any indication, the American people are seeking fresh approaches to the myriad problems that our nation is facing. "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America" provides the reader with a road map of the events that have led us to this rather sorry state of affairs and offers concrete suggestions as to how to deal with the ongoing problem of polarization in American politics.

Frankly, I found the first two-thirds of "Common Ground" to be a bit tedious at times. Beckel and Thomas rehash dozens of events over the past several decades that have contributed in one way or another to increasing lack of civility and rampant partisonship that is now so prevalant in this country. The authors point to events like the confirmation hearings for Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Iran-Contra hearings, the battle over national health insurance as well as the ongoing abortion issue as among the key reasons why politics has been poisoned in our country.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By William T. Endicott on November 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It used to be that politicians didn't always agree with each other but at least they were civil to each other. By showing respect, they found common ground, reached compromises and got important things done, such as building the nation's interstate highway system, rebuilding Europe and Japan after World War II, implementing the G.I. bill, passing Medicare or the Voting Rights Act, winning the Cold War, reducing disease, landing a man on the moon and coordinating and funding early Internet development.

But now politics is not just about disagreeing with the other guy, it's about trying to personally destroy him, bankrupt him with legal fees or even put him in jail. Not surprisingly, it's a bit hard to find common ground in a system like that.

If you've ever wondered how we got into this mess -- and how we can get out of it -- Cal Thomas and Bob Beckel's book "Common Ground" will tell you. First, it traces the recent history of polarization in American politics, which has become so bad it's caused people in the middle to abandon the field to radicals on both sides.

And then it urges voters to seize the opportunity of the upcoming elections to change this. What we need, the authors point out, are more "radical moderates" (my term), voters who are a) motivated to take back politics from the fanatics and b) wise enough to understand how we've been manipulated into playing a destructive game that we're not going to play any more.

Some of the books recommendations:

* Realize that today's polarization is more about just holding onto power than solving problems most voters really care about.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By attorney on October 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
At a time when partisan politics is dividing America, Cal Thomas and Bob Bechel present an alternative. COMMON GROUND: HOW TO STOP THE PARTISAN WAR FROM DESTROYING AMERICA is co-written by two most unlikely suspects, one from either bank, yet the book comes out as fair and balanced! Amazing. It should be required reading for every high school and college student, in American history, civics and poli sci. I would have paid more attention in class if I had had that book to enlighten me! This is one of the very few examples of cooperation from both sides of the aisle. I trust it could be a model to Congress.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aaron M. Marcelli on March 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
I rented this book from the library (as one one-star reviewer mentioned) because I was grabbed by the title and all I assumed it implied. I found the book to be almost exactly as I hoped, two disagreeing commentators coming together to challenge our politicians to do the same.

The first section of the books paints the picture of just how bad things have gotten in Washington by detailing some of the extreme partisan and polarizing acts from those on both sides of the isle. The authors are also quick to share the blame with pundits and 24-hour news commentators. In doing so, the authors give names and details of all they accuse. I would suggest we avoid reading or watching everyone they mention!

The second section of the book is a brief overview of recent politics (Nixon to W.), noting where and how polarization damaged progress in each of these time periods. I found the overview to be a great brush-up of modern American politics and felt like I was receiving some good insight to our political system.

Finally the authors end with a challenge for common ground. They call for politicians who will quite acting and talking so extreme simply to rile up voters and gain large campaign contributions. The authors reveal how such polarization is simply for the gain of political power and not because much (if any) of the accusations and mudslinging in valid. The authors then paint a picture of the voting public as tired of bickering and partisan ship. They point to the 2006 "wave election" as proof the American people are fed-up with a lack of progress and will punish those who abuse the system, no matter what party.

In case you can't tell, I thought the book was great. However, I do have two major complaints.
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