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The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture Hardcover – June 2, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 283 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A Manichean analysis from a strident new voice from the Right---for liberals, something intended to ignite antagonism; for the like-minded, a buttress against the opposition." ---Kirkus
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

David Mamet 's Glengarry Glen Ross won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1984. He is also the author of Writing in Restaurants and On Directing Film, both available from Penguin.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sentinel; 1st edition (June 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595230769
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595230768
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (283 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The great irony that arrived on my iPad (via Kindle) with David Mamet's excellent book is that, as the dramatic authority of confidence games (e.g., House of Games, The Spanish Prisoner), for most of his life he was taken in by the confidence game of modern far-left Liberalism. (Born and raised in Chicago, he still got conned.) Mamet is erudite, literary, and incisive in this set of linked essays. I rarely use the Kindle's highlight function, but I found myself highlighting more passages in the first third of his book than all 260 of the other books I have read on Kindle. His writing is that great. He resides in that specialized domain of an H. L. Mencken, or a Richard Mitchell (whose Underground Grammarian and several books are available free on the Web). He draws from Hayek and Sowell, among others, but is more fun to read. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

Chap. 1: "We cannot live without trade. A society can neither advance nor improve without excess of disposable income. This excess can only be amassed through the production of goods and services necessary or attractive to the mass. A financial system which allows this leads to inequality; one that does not leads to mass starvation."

Chap 2: "I will now quote two Chicago writers on the subject, the first, William Shakespeare, who wrote 'Truth's a dog must to kennel; he must be whipped out, when Lady the brach may stand by the fire and stink'; the second, Ernest Hemingway, 'Call 'em like you see'em and to hell with it.'"

Chap 3: "The grave error of multiculturalism is the assumption that reason can modify a process which has taken place without reason, and with inputs astronomically greater than those reason might provide.
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Format: Hardcover
David Mamet made a stir in 2008 with his Village Voice essay, "Why I Am No Longer a Brain-Dead Liberal." This book is a fuller, wittier, and more scathing treatment of the same subject--a liberal screenwriter who has "seen the light."

Like other big media apostates, Andrew Breitbart, Tom Wolfe, John Stossel, Ben Stein, and Dennis Miller, Mamet realized the liberal assumptions that capitalism was evil and that Republicans were corporate lackeys had serious holes. When he began to investigate the logic behind free markets, he realized that it actually made sense. As Mamet puts it, modern liberalism is nothing more than a religion that its practitioners preach blindly on faith.

To examine the inanity of modern liberals, Mamet offers 39 entertaining essays that cover the gamut of modern living, including "Adventure Slumming," "Cabinet Spiritualism and the Car Czar," and, my favorite, "Oakton Manor and Camp Kawaga." Throughout the expose, Mamet makes use of his excellent perspective in the arts. With examples from his theater class, he shows exactly how absurd political correctness and the liberal agenda can be.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good story and wants to peer into the ultra-liberal New York/L.A. big media mindset. Of course, the culture wars are just a symptom of the problem, and, for anyone who wants an examination of how we got into this situation, I recommend the brilliant Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I hope this book sells a billion copies and is read by everyone in America. (See? I'm in favor of hope & change, too!)

Well, that won't happen, but I suspect this book may be an effective converter of more than one leftie. Mamet's writing is crystal clear because his thinking is crystal clear. He is especially telling on the failure of our schools to teach anything useful, leaving us with a mass of liberal arts majors who hardly know how to spell, much less how to WORK. Mamet comes back to this again and again: the leftie dream is somehow to avoid doing work, just like Aristotle and his dream of the "contemplative life" --- The Nicomachean Ethics (Oxford World's Classics) --- or James Hilton's fantasy Lost Horizon --- where the unpleasant reality emerges (sooner or later) that the man living the contemplative life can only do so because of his slaves, and ditto for the lamasery of Lost Horizon. In the end, both books can be justly accused of being guides for the independently wealthy.

Capitalism is evil!! Oh, really? Do you mean the capitalism which built your house and your car, the capitalism which founded public libraries all across America, and created Harvard, Stanford, Yale, and the American university system? The capitalism which encouraged and sustained your grandfathers and fathers, the capitalism which brings you food to eat every day?
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