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124 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did Obama's magic go? This guy knows
Finally, a book that makes sense of what happened to the movement for hope and change! If you wonder where all the magic from Obama's campaign went, this book is for you.

The book gives a great history of all the social movements that led up to Obama, and it really reminds you that the grassroots people were becoming very powerful even before he ran. I had...
Published on April 3, 2012 by Silence Dogood

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A polemic and primer for MoveOn's American Dream movement
Although I was heavily involved in organizing and hosting house meetings for MoveOn when we developed the Contract for the American Dream in the summer of 2010, I found this book to be pretty dry. In fact, I never finished it. Van Jones' theories ring true to me and I have devoted countless hours to trying to make this dream a reality, but the book could have been more...
Published on December 23, 2012 by Laura Avant


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124 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where did Obama's magic go? This guy knows, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
Finally, a book that makes sense of what happened to the movement for hope and change! If you wonder where all the magic from Obama's campaign went, this book is for you.

The book gives a great history of all the social movements that led up to Obama, and it really reminds you that the grassroots people were becoming very powerful even before he ran. I had almost forgotten about the anti Iraq War movement, Howard Dean, Al Gore and everything that laid the ground for Obama to run. The author does a good job of showiing how citizens' movements mattter in many ways.

The middle of the book is my favorite part. It has very helpful charts to compare and contrast Obama, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. This shows some very original thinking, which I have not seen anywhere else.

I will admit that I expected a nasty, bitter, tell-all kind of book, because I knew that he had worked for Obama and maybe left on bad terms. Or else, I expected it to just defend Obama and attack conservatives.

Instead, he seems to be coming from a place of really trying to understand everything that has been happening. He explains new terms like "swarm theory" and "open source branding" very well, as they relate to politics. He has good and bad things to say about a broad variety of topics, including both the left and the right.

It is kind of harsh when he calls the Tea Party "cheap patriots," but then he proves his point. I think the author is very brave for writing a book like this.

I did not know what to expect, but reading this book made me feel sad that someone like him is not in the government. I hope Obama will put him back in the cabinet after he gets re-elected.
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158 of 183 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building a Movement to Restore the American Dream, April 3, 2012
This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
"Rebuild the Dream" offers Van Jones' ideas on how to build a political movement that focuses on restoring the American Dream. The book begins with an interesting personal account that includes Jones' experiences in the Obama administration and the famous encounter with Glen Beck's irrational extremism.

Next it offers a detailed critique of Obama in both campaign and governing mode. Jones does a good job of highlighting the areas where the administration has succeeded and also where it has failed. Two of the most important failures Jones notes include going too easy on the banks, and not recognizing the potential of the Tea Party right at the beginning when the movement was in its infancy.

Much of the book focuses on the rise of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, and the differences and similarities between these two movements. Jones also gives a lot of attention to his "grid theory" of politics which involves the continuum between emotional and rational, and between ideas and action. Much of this is perhaps mostly of interest to those who are really into political activism, but the central idea is very important: An emotional narrative will ALWAYS trump facts. As Jones points out, especially in the internet age, people can always find their own "facts" to support their preconceived notions. Politics is about telling a story that resonates with people.

The book is primarily about how to build a political movement and connect with people, rather than on specific policy ideas for rebuilding the American Dream. However, toward the end, Jones does offer some prescriptions. Most of these are good ideas, but they are also very conventional progressive ideas, including of course, investment in green technologies.

"Building the Dream" is an important book that offers important insights into what it takes to connect with voters and drive change. However, in terms of actual policies, we all need to recognize that actually saving the American Dream will require understanding what is really happening to the job market: this is the central issue for saving the middle class in America.
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94 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
In "Rebuild the Dream", Van Jones gives a much more nuanced and insightful perspective on the current Obama administration than you hear from your average political commentator. I don't agree with all his opinions and conclusions, particularly his criticisms of Organizing for America (full disclosure: I was active with OFA in 2009 and 2010), but getting the view from a White House insider is quite illuminating and helped me to better understand the thinking behind the decisions and some of the missteps that were made, both inside and outside of the administration.

I also found his ideas on where we go from here to be particularly compelling. Too often, you get a critique of a broken system without any clear way of how to fix it. Van's vision for rebuilding the U.S. economy to achieve a "21st century American Dream" makes me think there may be a light at the end of the tunnel after all.

All in all, "Rebuild the Dream" is definitely worth the read.
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41 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally an insightful analysis of the mess we're in and how to solve it, April 3, 2012
This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
This book not only gives insight into the inspiring movement that led to the election of President Obama, but also provides a sensible analysis of the backlash that followed. Van Jones reminds us in Rebuild the Dream that it is people who make things happen. And he offers us a clear path forward -- one that will enable us to regain a sense of momentum, of positivity, of innovation, and belief in ourselves to create a better world for the next generation.
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42 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
Van Jones is one of my living heroes. He is simply one of our best thinkers and leaders. He consistently produces some of the highest quality, most original, analysis and strategic thinking anyone is doing about America and how we rebuild it in the 21st Century. The book is a must read for anyone who cares about our country. I am buying copies as gifts for everyone I know.
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28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great perspective, April 4, 2012
This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
I saw Van Jones speak at Georgetown University last week, and he really brings a fresh and welcome perspective to discussion of our country's interlinked financial and political systems. Would recommend not only buying this book but also checking out his media appearances and judging for yourself where he's coming from.
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37 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
A great reminder of why we need to get out and vote for Obama in 2012, but why we need to do more than just "vote and hope" to fix our nation's economy. Very inspiring!
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29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important book at an important moment, April 3, 2012
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I. Kim (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
Van Jones is thoughtful and inspiring. His insights are powerful, and he calls on the best of us as human beings and as Americans to step up. 2011 was a crazy, historic year in American politics. 2012 looks to be even moreso. In these times, which are confusing and many-layered, Jones brings clear observation, insight, and recommendations to offer a pathway forward. Well worth reading.
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30 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Provcative book, April 3, 2012
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This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
Van Jones is back with great insight as to what went wrong after 2008, and what progressives need to do about it. I'm particularly inspired by the Contract for the American Dream he chronicles in the book -- the idea that hundreds of thousands of folks coming together to offer solutions and innovate on the Nnw American Dream!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The call to span our political abyss, September 2, 2012
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This review is from: Rebuild the Dream (Hardcover)
By now we have loads of reviews about Van Jones' newest book, and not surprisingly they tend to line up neatly with the "side" of the polarized US political culture with which one stands. Since leaving the White House over the "distractions" caused by Glenn Beck's strange accusations, Jones has sought to constitute a movement to "rebuild the dream" by prioritizing policies and action to address current social and economic situation in which the US finds itself. Notable here is the agenda, established in Jones' previous book, to address our energy system. Reliant as it is on fossil fuels, multinational corporations, heavy capital investments, and foreign countries, Jones is well-known for advocating a more carbon-neutral system that requires public as well as private investment, relies on US ingenuity, involves greater decentralization, avoids offshoring of jobs, and seeks to offset longstanding US alliances with dictatorships in countries with oil. If you buy independent analyses of all this, the proposal is important if insufficient; but if you still buy the polarized discourse out there, then you either love this stuff because it's the answer to several major problems in the US, or you hate it because it threatens the US way of life, which like fossil fuels will of course last forever.

Jones tries hard to navigate all this, arguing strenuously that polarization has to be overcome and policy proposals have to serve the 100%, not the 1% as conservatives are routinely accused of favoring, or some fragment of the other 99% as the fragments of the left favor. This book provides a useful analysis of the social movements behind the rise of Obama, and especially social movements of various stripes since the 2008 election. More could be said about all of this, but Jones provides one of the few analyses out there of both the Tea Party and Occupy/the 99%. Not surprisingly, Jones criticizes the Tea Party and its "cheap patriots" for offering proposals that in practice will not benefit many people and thus weaken the country. But to his credit, he recognizes that the Tea Party has an electoral agenda and has been very effective at advancing toward its goals insofar as its candidates have won elections and it has colonized the Republican party. On the other hand, Jones organizes a large portion of the book around the logic of Occupy, which suggests favoritism, but Jones also acknowledges that Occupy has explicitly disdained and avoided electoral politics, seeking deeper and more fundamental change. How that will play out, and whether it will have a chance if the Tea Party continues to get its candidates elected, remains to be seen.

Jones also provides some useful analysis via Grid Theory to make the point that in politics, having stories that yank our emotions matter, in addition to clear policy proposals. As critics of this book have noted, this point is itself not new. Nonetheless, it is especially important in the current political moment, given the irrational hysterics on Fox News and right-wing blogs about the Obama Administration, as contrasted with the administration's dry and technical responses to the economic crisis. Similarly, the logical fallacies of the Tea Party haven't blunted the impacts of their effective use of info-bites, images and stories; interestingly, Occupy has sought to combine hard facts with their own turns of phrase, images and stories. Despite these similarities, Jones recognizes, the impact of the first is so far much more evident than that of the second.

For me the most important passage in the book is on pp. 233-235. Here, Jones makes the case for why Occupy/the 99% needs to define itself and practice as "the 99% for the 100%". Jones draws crucial distinctions here. It is not wealth per se that is the problem, it is cheating to get it and pretending that the system is a meritocracy. A market system is vital, but becomes dangerous when it is rigged and yet our elected representatives pretend it is not. And the 1% per se is not the problem, but rather a system that protects the 1% when they risk and lose and expect others to bail them out. These points build bridges among elements of ostensibly adversarial politics by bringing together traditional conservative values such as personal accountability with liberal values like equal treatment. If somebody can take that ball and carry it, then there is hope. Jones includes not a little self-promotion in this book, but he also makes clear that this is not his ball to carry; it will require a movement, and that sentiment is consistent with the logic of advocating for the 100%.
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Rebuild the Dream
Rebuild the Dream by Van Jones (Hardcover - April 3, 2012)
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