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Real Common Sense Hardcover – April 5, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609801261
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609801267
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,886,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Kahn, a public radio host, calls for a "common sense" return to the values of our forefathers and a shift in our priorities from consumers to citizens, stressing the importance of interdependence and community bonds. He wags his finger at corporate excess, right-wing rhetoric, and consumer greed before launching into his earnest advice. Few of his ideas, such as his call for media reform and a renewed public service requirement, are revolutionary, but he argues them with an effective blend of fact ("In 2005, an Institute of Medicine report found that 80% to 97% of food product aimed at children and teenagers are ÿof poor nutritional quality' ") and rhetoric ("why isn't our government willing to pass regulations to protect kids from junk food advertising? Our public officials believe that junk food profits are more important than the health of our nation's children"). Cynics might find his perspectives simplistic—and Kahn is no Tom Paine—but his is a well-intentioned reflection on what it means to be a citizen in today's imperfect America. (Apr.)
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About the Author

BRIAN KAHN is host of the award–winning public radio program Home Ground. He has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, and Field & Stream. He has worked as a ranch hand, college boxing coach, lawyer, conservationist, journalist, and lives in Montana.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This is a book worth buying, worth sharing and worth talking about.
Jerri Swenson
Kahn provides new and insightful information that locates our current situation in historical perspective.
Liat Weingart
More importantly, he makes it again seem possible that we can recover our national Common Sense.
Richard E. Baldwin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Richard E. Baldwin on April 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Brian Kahn's title--Real Common Sense-- is both an homage to Thomas Paine and an invitation to compare his book with Glen Beck's Common Sense. His subtitle--Using Our Founding Values to Reclaim Our Nation and Stop the Radical Right from Hijacking America--defines his procedure. He looks to the founding of the nation for the historical roots of American values, especially to the Declaration of Independence. He emphasizes the fact that the Revolutionary generation believed in the human need for government. The Declaration, after asserting basic human rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," affirms that "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the government."

The Declaration does not create any governmental institutions. That task was undertaken first by the Articles of Confederation. Under the Articles, the individual states remained largely independent, and that arrangement quickly failed. The states were not in fact independent. They were interdependent and needed to unite on that basis if their freedom were to survive. The fact of interdependence, coupled with the philosophical proposition that all are created equal, underlies the new Constitution drafted in the summer of 1787.

What was true for the states, Kahn argues, is true for individuals. We are not isolated, autonomous "consumers" but "citizens in a community of citizens." Basic human rights have meaning only within a human community, a fact that requires us to take seriously the idea of "the public good." He traces quickly how that idea has been under systematic assault since Reagan's inaugural assertion that "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jerri Swenson on April 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think this book should be required reading for all 8th graders in America! I say 8th graders because, sadly and shamefully, only 69% of Americans graduate from high school.

Brian Kahn's words are a welcome and needed clarification of historical facts and modern trends, and they are a blue print for how to proceed in this crazy world. He addresses all the major issues facing our modern world, giving us an historical perspective and a clear indictment about what we will face if we do nothing. This is a book worth buying, worth sharing and worth talking about. Please read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By George Royle on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wherever you fall on the political spectrum, this book should find its way to the top of your "must read" list. In contrast to the noise and nonsense that drive our 24-hour political news cycle, Real Common Sense offers a coherent, consistent, and calm take on the meaning and responsibilities of citizenship in 21st century America. The book's greatest attribute is the attention it pays to the conflicting forces and incentives that shape modern American life. By pointing out the contradictions those factors often create in our daily lives - such as the competing ends of consumerism and civic engagement - Kahn challenges all of us to take "common sense" steps to live up to our core American ideals. Whether or not you agree with all of Kahn's proposals, you owe it to yourself to give them a read - you will inevitably be better off for having taken the time to pause and reflect on how your life compares to the values you hold as an American.
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