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

275 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"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 the MP3 CD edition.

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 HC (June 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595230769
  • ASIN: B007F7QPKU
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,177,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Mamet's numerous plays include Oleanna, Glengarry Glen Ross (winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award), American Buffalo, Speed-the-Plow, Boston Marriage, November, Race and The Anarchist. He wrote the screenplays for such films as The Verdict, The Untouchables and Wag the Dog, and has twice been nominated for an Academy Award. He has written and directed ten films, including Homicide, The Spanish Prisoner, State and Main, House of Games, Spartan and Redbelt. In addition, he wrote the novels The Village, The Old Religion, Wilson and many books of nonfiction, including Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose and Practice of the Movie Business; Theatre; Three Uses of the Knife: On the Nature and Purpose of Drama and the New York Times bestseller The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture. His HBO film Phil Spector, starring Al Pacino and Helen Mirren, aired in 2013 and earned him two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing. He was co-creator and executive producer of the CBS television show The Unit and is a founding member of the Atlantic Theater Company.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

414 of 460 people found the following review helpful By Mark Andre Alexander on June 5, 2011
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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507 of 574 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Winnich on June 2, 2011
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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314 of 356 people found the following review helpful By Alex on June 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is not the story of David Mamet's transformation from liberal to freethinker who thinks his way into conservatism. Instead this is 39 short, well-written observations from someone who has encountered conservatism with virgin eyes, like Columbus looking on the Americas for the first time. These will all be familiar to conservatives who are well aware that there are good reasons underlying conservative thought and action.

Mamet's revelations can be a little amusing to long-time conservatives, like hearing your child come home from school and saying "in Australia the seasons are reversed! Christmas is the hottest time of the year, and July 4th the coldest!"

Perhaps his best epiphany is that everything is a trade-off in life. For example, realizing that there's a very real reason why a country that can send a man to the moon can't provide free school lunches to all; because that nation chose to send a man to the moon instead. Government can some of the things we want it to do, but not all.

"All human interactions are tradeoffs, one may theoretically offer cheap health insurance to the twenty million supposedly uninsured members of our society. But at what cost-the dismantling of the health care system of the remaining three-hundred million plus? What of the inevitable reduction, shortages, abuses, delay and injustice caused by State rationing? There's a cost for everything."

Lots more insightful observations like the neo-Puritanism on the Left, for example, at his child's school, where the familiar music mnemonic of Every Good Boy Does Fine is changed to Every Good Baby Does Fine, to avoid using the masculine 'boy.
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