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Wake Up, You're Liberal!: How We Can Take America Back from the Right Paperback – May 14, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (May 14, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932360220
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932360226
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,397,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Why is the American left in disarray and can anything be done about it? That question has haunted progressives and others who care about democracy for several decades. With the hard-right faction of the Republican Party in control of Congress, the White House and Supreme Court, the revitalization of the left in general and the Democratic Party in general is more pressing than ever.

WAKE UP, YOU'RE LIBERAL is the result of several years of research. I examined hundreds of polls of voter attitudes, talked to numerous political experts and ordinary Americans and studied media coverage of the two major parties to come up with a theoretical new political party--one that would synthesize the liberal, conservative and libertarian impulses that drive the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens, regardless of their party affiliation.

What I found was startling. On most issues, Americans--even Republicans--tend to favor values that could be best described as liberal. They fail to support candidates that agree with them on these issues, however, when they perceive hypocrisy or inconsistency in those men and women.

I expect that readers on the left and right will be equally surprised by much of what I have to say here, but I'm not a polemicist. This book is my political magnum opus, my first attempt to present my vision for the country and its people in the hope of restoring a vibrant dialogue between people who differ on everything but what matters most: doing what's best for America.

Oh, and for those who care anout such things: this book is all prose, no cartoons.

About the Author

Ted Rall was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1963, raised in Kettering, Ohio and graduated from high school in 1981. His first cartoons were published in the Kettering-Oakwood (OH) Times. He majored in physics at Columbia University’s School of Engineering from 1981 until 1984, where he drew cartoons for the Columbia Daily Spectator.

Inspired after meeting pop artist Keith Haring in a Manhattan subway station in 1986, Rall began posting his cartoons on New York City streets. He eventually picked up 12 clients through self-syndication. In 1990, he returned to Columbia, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts with honors in history in 1991. Later that year, Rall’s cartoons were signed for national syndication. He moved to Universal Press Syndicate in 1996.

His cartoons now appear in more than 140 publications, including the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Aspen Times, Hartford Advocate, Newark Star-Ledger, Los Angeles Times, SF Weekly, Philadelphia City Paper, Village Voice, Harrisburg (PA) Patriot-News, Las Vegas Review Journal, Washington City Paper, Tucson Weekly, Sacramento News & Review, San Jose Mercury-News, Lexington Herald-Leader and New York Times.

From 1998 to 2000, Ted hosted his highly-rated, twice-weekly talk show on KFI Radio in Los Angeles. Highlights of Ted’s show included "Stan Watch: Breaking News from Central Asia," which was simulcast by both National Public Radio and the BBC, and caustic interviews with such figures as former Klansman David Duke. Ted often broadcast his radio show from overseas, and made American radio history by airing the first live talk radio shows from Cuba, Uzbekistan and war-torn Kashmir Province. Most recently, Ted’s live from Afghanistan reports for KFI Radio and written dispatches for the Village Voice have been called "some of the best war reporting from Afghanistan" by The Nation.

Ted has published three collections of cartoons: Waking Up In America (1992), All The Rules Have Changed (1995) and Search and Destroy (2001).

Known for his caustic humor, prolificity and unflinching take on current topics, Rall writes a weekly op-ed column and has authored four prose and graphic books. Rall’s critically-acclaimed first graphic novel, Real Americans Admit: The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done! (1996), collected real-life stories of people’s worst deeds in comic form, and won the first-prize 1997 Firecracker Alternative Book Award. Rall’s second graphic novel, the semi-autobiographical My War With Brian (NBM) was published in 1998. In the same year Ted also wrote a Gen X manifesto about generational angst, Revenge of the Latchkey Kids (Workman Publishing, 1998). It received widespread critical acclaim and established him as one of America’s leading spokespersons for the disenfranchised and alienated. His 2024 (NBM, 2001) is a visually elegant graphic novel updating and parodying George Orwell’s 1984.

Attitude: The New Subversive Political Cartoonists (NBM, 2002) was a ground-breaking cartoon collection of alternative cartoonists, edited by Ted Rall. (Attitude 2 appeared in 2004.) To Afghanistan and Back, the first-ever instant graphic travelogue chronicling Ted’s harrowing experiences covering the war for the Village Voice and KFI Radio, was a bestseller recently picked as a Best Book of the Year by the American Library Association.

In 1996, he was one of three Finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. He was one of the New York Times’ most reprinted cartoonist in 1997, 1999 and 2001. He also did color strips for both Time Magazine and Fortune Magazine from 1998 to 2001. He was awarded the 1998 Deadline Club Award by the Society of Professional Journalists for his cartoons. Rall received first place in both the 1995 and 2000 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for Cartoons. The award, founded in 1968, recognizes distinguished work on behalf of disadvantaged Americans.

More About the Author

Ted Rall is a nationally syndicated political cartoonist, columnist, graphic novelist, editor, author and occasional war correspondent.

Twice the winner of the RFK Journalism Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Rall's important books include "Revenge of the Latchkey Kids," about the travails of Generation X, and "Silk Road to Ruin," a survey of ex-Soviet Central Asia. He traveled to Afghanistan during the fall 2001 U.S. invasion, where he drew and wrote "To Afghanistan and Back," the first book of any kind about the war. He was also one of the first journalists to declare the war effort doomed, writing in The Village Voice in December 2001 that the occupation had already been lost.

Rall's latest book is "The Book of Obama: How We Went From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt." His next book, "After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan," comes out in November 2013.

Inspired after meeting pop artist Keith Haring in a Manhattan subway station in 1986, Rall began posting his cartoons on New York City streets. He eventually picked up 12 small clients, including NY Weekly and a poetry review in Halifax, Nova Scotia, through self-syndication. In 1990, he returned to Columbia University to resume his studies, from which he graduated with a bachelor of arts with honors in history in 1991. (His honors thesis was about American plans to occupy France as an enemy power at the end of World War II.) Later that year, Rall's cartoons were signed for national syndication by San Francisco Chronicle Features, which is no longer in business. He moved to Universal Press Syndicate in 1996.

His cartoons now appear in more than 100 publications around the United States, including the Los Angeles Times, Tucson Weekly, the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Pasadena Weekly and MAD Magazine.

Rall considers himself a neo-traditionalist who uses a unique drawing style to revive the aggressive approach of Thomas Nast, who viewed editorial cartoons as a vehicle for change. His focus is on issues important to ordinary working people--he keeps a sign asking "What do actual people care about?" above his drafting table--such as un- and underemployment, the environment and popular culture, but also comments on political and social trends.

Customer Reviews

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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Reynolds on June 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
You either like Rall or you want to see him die painfully.
I like his writing a great deal. His cartoons and editorial comments are infamous for tweaking the right wing - hard. Like a meaner, more vitriolic Michael Moore or a modern day Ambrose Bierce. He thinks that Bush is an evil dumba$$ and that Ronnie Reagan in "turning a crispy black about now". His infamous cartoon about ranger Pat Tillman elicited death threats galore.
However relatively little of that invective is on display in this book. 'Wake Up..' is pretty much focused on the thesis and subsequent applications thereof that could best be summed up as follows:
1-Liberals instituted most of the good things in American Society - health and workers safety programs, education, 40 hour work weeks, abolishing child labor, etc.
2-Conservatives currently play the game of acquiring and keeping political power much, much better; thus many people vote conservative even as those same conservatives work to screw them over.
3- The Democratic party has followed the Republicans in it's movement to the right, most Democrats are, for the most part, moderate Republicans.
4-To get back into power the Democratic, or even better a truly liberal party should be both true to itself, be unashamed of wanting basic things that any civilized country should expect to have, E.G. universal healthcare, education and a redistributionist tax model. But at the same time get its head out of it's behind and focus deeply and pervasively on a few issues. Rall points out the general scattered approach and fruitiness of the typical peace march with people carrying every type of sign, compared to the Republicans ability to stay on message.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Phrawm47 on October 25, 2005
Format: Paperback

I found "Wake Up, You're Liberal!" to be excellent food for thought.

There are some who feel that all the important issues facing America and Americans have been solved. For those who feel this way, doctrinaire nonsense from one or another "ism" obviates the need to examine, consider, and decide -- all that's needed is to just keep shouting ideological catchphrases at any and all problems 'til the problems succumb from exhaustion.

For the great majority of centrist Americans, however, partisan shrieking isn't enough. For them, reflecting on earlier events and examining new ideas is an essential part of good citizenship.

Ted Rall's cogently written book, "Wake Up, You're Liberal!," provides that reflection and examination. Like any of our fellow species members, Mr. Rall may not always get it right, but that's a consequence of his considering complex problems rather than arguing that simplistic catchphrases alone are enough to solve them them.

His examination also means that the word "Liberal" in the title may mislead, even disappoint, some readers. One of the books recurring themes is that doctrinaire liberals and doctrinaire conservatives alike have allowed rigid advocacy of overly simplistic, even extremist, dogma to move their respective movements out of the political mainstream.

"Wake Up, You're Liberal!" won't offend or annoy anyone who can tolerate reasoned political dialog. The book certainly isn't grounds for having Mr. Rall imprisioned, exiled, or shot as some neocons have publicly suggested.

But for those of who naively belive that any book, doctrine, or "ism" can provide the answer to any and all problems, books like "Wake Up" may present an unacceptable deviance from approved doctrine. That's true whether the orthodoxy originates from the left or the right.

For that reason alone, I strongly suggest you read this book while it's still legal to do so...
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on November 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
Wake Up... You're Liberal: How We Can Take America Back From The Right is a sharp-voiced wake-up call, grounded heavily in both research and personal passion. Cartoonist, columnist, and war correspondent Ted Rall argues that most "Republican" voters agree with liberals on most issues, but have been duped into voting against their own interests and for the interests of the wealthiest, most sharply conservative, and often most fanatically religious minority of the nation. Discussing everything from high school bullying to dirty political practices to Central Asian oil politics, Wake Up... You're Liberal combines its whetted observations into an overriding manifesto to wake up, get involved, and contribute to the democratic system that makes America great.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful By johnbarton10 on July 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
The writing is clear, lucid and entertaining, yet manages to rile even the most sedate Democrat who feels that this country is going to hell in a handbag. Rall's ability to capture the way Americans can entertain contradictory opinions is spot on and enlightening to those of us who have a hard time comprehending how avowed Republicans can sleep at night. The really good thing is that reading this book has given me a better sense of my political identity and an urge to do something about the sad state of affairs in which the Bush administration has placed this country and its people.Ted Rall is a prime example of why a study of history can be so valuable in helping us lead mature, well-reasoned, persuasive and self-actualizing lives as Liberals.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ludwig J. Pluralist on January 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
I agree, generally, with the book's basic position, which is that those of us who are not on the far right side of the political spectrum need to stand up to the onslaught from the right. I also appreciate Ted Rall's snarky sense of humor. I very much appreciate the fact that he's done his homework and that he presents clear, and for the most part, accurate information. By and large, I think that he makes his case.

I also really appreciate the tone of the book. Rall wants to fight back against bullies. I do too. At a time in our country's history when we can observe more and more of our sacred civil liberties being chipped away from within, at a time when we are forced to endure the sanctimonious speech of hypocrites feigning morality, there are many targets. Essentially what Rall advocates is standing up to political bullies, hitting them back harder than they hit, and then watching them scamper away. Whether or not this will work as a political strategy is somewhat uncertain; but there is a cathartic value to just contemplating the idea.

If the book has a basic flaw it is this; in framing the book's arguments as essentially, left vs. right, it contributes to an environment of polarization. Perhaps we need to transcend this, ultimately. The problem with such positioning, too, is that it may not speak as much to centrists, and to those who don't follow politics that closely. And a related flaw is in presuming that the Democratic Party can be the means to bring about the transformations of politics that Rall desires. In theory this may be true. But in the real world, I am skeptical.
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