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Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance
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18 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2010
Common Nonsense is a fascinating, scary book to read, both well researched and well written. The Glenn Beck phenomenon is a reflection of our political naivete as a country; our willingness to "tune in" is a throwback to our childish fascination with the "bogeyman". Beck's publicity events are the equivalent of early Billy Graham religious rallies on steroids, with Tea Party chapters replacing local churches, so-called patriots replacing converts, and the U.S. Constitution referred to like the Bible.

Alexander Zaitchik describes in detail how Beck's influence has exploded with his exposure on Fox television, the internet and availability of 24/7 media saturation, plus his canny marketing events paid for by audience "donor drives" which he mastered on "morning zoo" radio gigs.

Glenn Beck perfectly fits Mark Twain's definition of a Patriot as "the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about." If only Mark Twain were here to write about Glenn Beck with humor and pathos, because this is not a funny book.
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on May 19, 2015
This is a very interesting book about how TV Talk Shows work.It goes into great detail about how a personality like Glen Beck moved from the world of obscurity of a small time radio Jockey to being one of the top Talk Show hosts in America.In later years Beck was a Conservative through to the bone.He was also entertaining and presented arguments one sided.This is just the way it is..pure and simple.All the networks do the same thing.The day when you can say that a commentator is unbiased and a true Journalist is long gone.Some people even think that Walter Croncrite was unbiased;but if you believe that,be my guest.There are shrills on both sides of politics and if you think otherwise ,you are only kidding yourself.
I was hoping that the author was going to come up with something real interesting .but he didn't.In the political world of ideas ,there are really only two sides,Left wing Liberal or Socialist,and Right wing Conservative.It is only the naive that believe that one side will speak well of the other's ideas.This comes through very clear in that the author attacks the person ,and the character but never the ideas.It would be no different if a Right wing writer was to author a similar book about a Left wing Talk Show host.
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27 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Let me start by saying I am not a fan of Glenn Beck. I have seen the show possibly a half dozen times and was turned off by the heavily marked up black boards with arrows, and circles all pointing to various forms of conspiracy theories. I am not a big fan of anyone who sees a conspiracy behind every tree and bush, which appears to be what motivates Beck.

The question becomes whether he is a showman of high caliber that has found a way to keep an audience or whether he really believes what is spewing from his mouth on a nightly basis. From the information provided in this book, it appears to be a combination of both. It is obvious that at one time Beck was a gifted and talented Top 40 radio jock that could lure in an audience. It is also apparent that he toasted himself on drugs and alcohol and flamed out at a very early age from a career that could have been great. And it is apparent, by some of the stunts that he pulled while in that position, that he is sadistic and cruel. But whatever else he is, Beck is a consummate showman.

Following his flameout from Top 40 radio, he switched to talk radio where he also came very close to a flameout. Only very fortunate circumstances (for Beck) kept him from being a washed up former disc jockey at a fairly early age. And, because of that luck, he was able to hone his abilities to the point where he became a success in talk radio. The question is what makes him so successful? Is it that he mixes conservative mantra with a showman's gift to sell, or that people love to gather to watch a train wreck? On that count, only time will tell.

The author did an extraordinary job of interviewing people and researching this book. He exposes much of the hypocrisy that is Beck, along with the mantra that drives him. It is not a book for fans of Beck who will dismiss it out of hand. If, however, you are an individual with an independent mind and wants to learn what makes Beck tick then this is a prefect book for your enjoyment.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Yes a good read. Zaitchik is a good writer and did some very good research on the crazyman Beck. I don't think necessarily agree that one should be spending time writing books about people like Beck because Beck has and will continue to be the root of his own demise. The sad truth is the people who need to read this book...the folks brainwashed by Beck...won't do it. Anyway worth the read if you have time but you are probably smart enough to know the real deal on Beck.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've always had a strong dislike for Glenn Beck. I find him to be a phony and a muckraker who appeals to the lowest common denominator in our country. Alexander Zaitchik writes a thoroughly researched and open account of this man who is making money off of hate. I found it to be a must read for those who detest Beck's version of conservatism and racism.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2011
This book has a lot of promise. It is written by a studious and intelligent writer, and includes information about Glenn Beck that is interesting and frightening. He shows very well that Glenn Beck has allowed his career to follow blue skies and ended up the polarizing pundit he is simply because that's what the public seemed to want and would best assure his success, in a disingenuous way. My only problem with the book is that there are times when the author fails to hide his vitriol at Beck and allows his research to trail off into rants about the man. While the information is good, the argument is thoughtful and logical, and the subject is worthy, Zaitchik betrays his simple hatred of Beck which undermines his scholarly work. I recommend the book, but it works out better for people who already know they dislike Beck--if you are on the fence you may be put-off by the obvious leading on the part of the author.
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12 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 8, 2010
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The title of this book makes it sound like the usual sort of political pig-wrestling and name-calling. There's a fair amount of that in the last third of the book, which I don't care for. That part of the book also tends to substitute Beck's fears of a vast communist conspiracy with Zaitchik's own fears of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

But the first two-thirds are a much more objective story of how Glenn Beck got started in radio. It tells of a very driven young man who also picked up various addictions as he succeeded in his chosen career. Eventually he became a train wreck and moved from Top 40 morning radio shows into political talk radio. Since he hadn't been politically aware, he was politically ill-informed. However, he excelled at taking various tricks from Top 40 radio and converting them into a successful political show.

Much of this part of the book emphasizes Beck's success in marketing himself, in both of his radio incarnations. He has excelled in building a brand that, like Oprah's, spreads across many different media and makes him a wealthy entertainer.

I would have liked to see more discussion of Beck's audience. Zaitchik treats these listeners are clueless rubes, but I suspect they are not so homogenous. It would be nice to know more about the people on whom Beck depends for his millions.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 8, 2015
Bought and read this book years ago when I was learning and developing my political views and philosophy. No facts just cheap attacks on Beck, that I would have to say after years of reading history and fact checking Glenn have come to the conclusion his history is pretty spot on. We know Glenn was an alcoholic because he has admitted it on TV and people grow. So what he did some stupid things in the past. I think everyone does. So what that he was a radio DJ. This is weak stuff man! This book is nothing but a smear campaign. Didn't this guy graduate college? This yellow journalism wouldn't fly in school. I'm glad that I took the time out to read this horse squeeze because it has only made me more knowledgeable about the weak tactics the left uses and help strengthen my my political resolve. This book is a joke and anyone that hires this guy as a journalist should tell you about the credibility of the standards they set for themselves.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2011
As you can see from the reviews and comments, people who dislike Beck praise this book for being well researched and written, and people who like Beck condemn this book for being poorly researched and written. Yet, while much of the content of this book can be categorized as being based on ad hominem and gossip, this book provides many insights into why Beck enjoys such appeal among his fans. Now that Beck has started his new GBTV, he has become something of an online televangelist and a cult leader. This is worrying when his fans tend to remain blissfully unaware of how Beck feeds off their ignorance and prejudices to give them the feeling that he is "ahead of the curve" and that they are a part of some "inner circle" of people who can see the truth (and anyone who does not agree with them is either a liar or an idiot.) If you are interested in reading about Beck's inner psyche and rise to fame, this book is worth reading, but if you are more interested in how Beck uses propaganda, the corporate agenda behind his "conservative libertarian" discourse, and how Beck is creating a "them v us" rhetoric that is damaging to public debate and democratic participation, then I recommend Karl Rogers's Debunking Glenn Beck: How to Save America from Media Pundits and Propagandists.
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17 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2010
This book is a MUST READ. It's not a hard read, and is presented and written in great detail. All Glenn Beck haters and lovers should read this book and find out how the master con-artist is using his devoted followers for his own self promotion and wealth. Watch the Camelion change it's colors to fit his madness. What's most frightening, is that this master showman has millions of True Believers that follow his every word as if it was handed down by God himself.
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