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on October 14, 2004
Jon Stewart and his Daily Show writers would have you believe this is humor masquerading as a "fake" civics textbook, but they undersell themselves. It's both funnier and smarter than that premise. It actually does spell out, chapter by chapter, the workings of the branches of government, the election process, and the role of journalism in creating and destroying all these (complete with in-class exercises and homework!)

If you're a fan of the show, you will enjoy listening to Stewart riff on journalism's loss of integrity, to Samantha Bee's apologetic asides about "do you mind if I tell you how we do it in Canada?", Ed Helms' presentation of his qualifications to be Supreme Court justice, etc. The book is, however, not just a rehash of pieces from the TV show; the book form allows the writers to make their favorite comedic jabs against our system's foibles with more historical and literary support. (Who knew, for example, the role that the rivalry between newspaper magnates William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer played in instigating the Spanish-American war?)

Coming from any source but the Daily Show, this premise might have been tedious, but from this team it is consistently and hysterically funny. Free of the time and vocabulary limits of TV, they really cut loose. The seven-dirty-words-you-can't-say-on-television here are put to good use, amended by such popular modifiers as bat, horse, bull, and mother. So don't bring it home to the kiddos, or listen to the audiobook on your mini-van stereo, and avoid it altogether if you don't yourself throw a good hearty @*$%&% around every now and then. But remember the best, funniest lines about the preservation of democracy and repeat these lessons to your kids. It's funny and important stuff.
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on September 18, 2004
Jon Stewart and the crew have done it again with a hilarious, bitingly satirical, and often true take on America and our political system. A good amount of the book's commentary is well-founded and educational; I found many of its parts to be a good review of the material we've all undoubtedly forgotten since government class (important court cases, etc.). But on occassion, I've remembered so little of actual political history that the line between the jokes and reality are blurred to the point that I don't know what is real and what isn't.

I've found myself smiling and laughing out loud through entire chapters, and the supplemental material sections (interspersed throughout the book) are hilarious. "Discussion Questions" and "Classroom Activities" start and end each chapter with additional laughs, and the opinion essays are unbelievably funny. This is a must read for every American or anyone who loves a good laugh.
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HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICEon September 20, 2004
This book may not be the most incisive in its examination of the performance of the Bush administration, but it sure is the funniest. We are talking laugh-out-loud funny, not the bemused chuckling of Maureen Dowd's "Bushworld: Enter at Your Own Risk" or the laughter-through-fears treatment of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11". But Bush is hardly the only target in this consistently clever, brightly illustrated book. This may very well be the textbook you wish you had while you were pretending to listen to your civics teacher in high school. Even if you don't get the Comedy Central cable channel and watch the "Daily Show", you can still enjoy this book for its shamelessly funny but sadly accurate observations of our government at work. However, if you have seen the clever antics of Jon Stewart and his crew, you know what you're in for, and you won't be disappointed. All you miss with the book is the clever editing of TV news clips, press conferences and convention speeches, which they love to skewer.

Any cynical thought you have had about government bureaucracy and the execution of democratic principles will be supported wholeheartedly here. The writers go as far as illustrating the timeline for democracy from its supposed birth in prehistoric times through the lightning-striking Biblical period to early American history and then of course, to the current political landscape. It all has a strong Mel Brooksian feeling of Borscht Belt schtick and frat house humor topped off with some tasty zingers like "...it turns out if Betsy Ross was alive and sewing American flags today, she'd be a 13-year-old Laotian boy". By all means, get this book as we all need a good laugh considering the paucity of options we have come November. You may find something sadly ironic when you read it and absorb the abuses and absurdities built into our political processes and institutions. But then again, any book that introduces a potential Bush-Kerry boxing match as "The Thrilla in Vanilla" is aces with me.
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on October 16, 2004
This is Jon Stewart at his best. And let's be honest, folks, he rips both sides of the aisle in this mock-textbook of American history. Man, how I wish this was my history book back in high school. I would've studied then. So there's truth here, as well as good political humor. And a clever pull-out poster comes with it on the shadow democracy we have. Now, who can say that doesn't bear some truth!
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on September 20, 2004
I hold in my hands a copy of the book "America--the Book" by Jon Stewart. From his zany foreword by "Thomas Jefferson" that literally made me spit out my coffee...to his open letter to Sean Penn requesting he keep his opinions to himself (oh, it rings so true), he had me laughing every time I turned the page. What an absolute delight in the wake of such a controversial election year. If you think he is biased, think again--he rips EVERYONE apart in a clever way.

Make sure you check out the "voter registration form" on page 123. Actually, I could point you in the direction of many funny things, but there are too many to write about here. Buy it, buy it, buy it!
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on November 1, 2004
It happens so rarely that I laugh out loud when reading a book (or any other form of printed work). This book has had me laughing out loud SEVERAL times!

For those of you that *hate* The Daily Show, don't be dismayed, this book might still be for you.

You see, there is a lot more to this book than the naked pictures of the Supreme Court (those are basically disturbing, not funny). The humor in this book takes real intelligence to understand. If you don't know who Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Machiavelli, or Marx, etc etc is, then you will *NOT* find this book funny.

I must give the writers credit, for it is one thing to come up with fart jokes and potty humor. However, in America, they have shown the ability to research a subject and change a certain underlying fact or two to really bring out some satire. If you don't know your history or classic authors, you'd probably find this book dull and boring (having missed all the references).

To put this book over the top, it is ENTIRELY like a TEXTBOOK! Seriously...form the silly "FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW" balloons, to the silly illustrations and pretend learning games. The authors really put in the effort to make this a (non-partisan, mind you) brilliant satire on America's political system and the methods we use to teach our own history!

So, even if you hate The Daily Show, if you enjoy intelligent satire this book may just be for you.

Enjoy!
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on October 20, 2004
Anyone into the daily show will love this book, no doubt about it. And those who enjoy witty humour will also love it.

The concept of the school-book is really well developed and the result is simply hilarious. For my part, I did not know it was a book of that kind; I expected a book without pictures and all that great stuff they put in there, so I was surprised, but in a good, a very good way.

PS: I read a preview on amazon some weeks ago and I remember one of them complained about "Bush-bashing"; well, the first mention of mister Bush does not come before something like the 140th page and it's so little it can hardly be considered bashing, besides, the guy doesn't get the half of a quarter of a third of what he ought to get, but anyway that's not the point. Point is; that's not a book about Bush so if you support him that should not be a reason not to read this book, since you will virtually see nothing related to him (except the very last pages about the election process, but in there you'll find an equal amount of stuff on Kerry, and an equal treatment of both of them).

Not only this book is seriously funny, but it's also very informative at times.
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on October 4, 2004
Okay, for the few who are writing in 1 Star reviews, claiming that Jon Stewart is merely spouting liberalists views, I have to say two things: 1) Get a sense of humor. This book is just plain funny, and yes, it does take jabs at all sides of the political spectrum 2) This book isn't just about politics. It's a humourous view at our history, our self-rightousness, and only those who have a firm grasp of U.S. history will find this book amusing. If it's not your cup of tea, perhaps you should read a history textbook, and then you'll understand.
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on September 21, 2004
As a poltical science student I can tell you without hesitation that you will LEARN something by reading this book!

How much have you forgotten since 11th grade Civics class? More than you realize!

While you're busy wetting yourself laughing at the graphics, you will subconciously be relearning what were once boring and useless factoids of history. Don't be surprised if suddenly you realize,"Hey! Wait a minute! There ARE nine Supreme Court justices! I always forget that guy with the teen-tiny (...)." You won't forget him now!

WARNING: The (second) chapter on the media will have you contemplating spending the rest of your life with the Amish.
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on November 2, 2004
Obviously the negative reviewers don't grasp that this is satire - and brilliantly conceived at that! I hadn't read the reviews prior to buying this book, but I like the Daily Show and decided at the price, it was worth ordering. I was thrilled with the product - it's designed like an old-school (no pun intended) text book from middle school or high school that anyone with a love for nostalgia, kitsch and pop culture will love! I don't know if they still make school text books this way, but it's just like the ones we had when I was in school - right down to the stamped "This Book is the Property Of" on the inside front cover and the over-simplified content written for the marginally average or below average intellect with bulleted points and little blurbs in the margins like the "Were You Aware?" points. One of these tells us, "Were You Aware? The term 'Did You Know?' is copyrighted by a rival publisher." Lots of silly stuff in there alongside facts about the history of the country and our government - it's written in such a way that at times the facts seem too absurd to be real and the made-up stuff sounds plausible enough to be fact.

If you have a sense of humor, you will find this book hilarious and if you can't find something funny in it, you probably either don't get the dry wit or you can't appreciate the inanities our country's history is riddled with. Check it out! You won't regret it.
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