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What Would Jefferson Do? Hardcover – July 27, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


“A riveting and absolutely essential book for reflecting upon and awakening to the real meaning of America and the hope it still offers to the world.” —Jacob Needleman, author of The American Soul

“In this season of witches, with the forces of unreason evidently in command, it is a joy to rediscover just how great an ally we, the people, have in Thomas Jefferson. His ideals, we find, are ours, now more than ever; and so all true patriots should turn to him again for solace, guidance, and inspiration. Kudos to Thom Hartmann for this wise and necessary book.” —Mark Crispin Miller, author of Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order

“Thom Hartmann offers us an eye-opening view of how democracy is threatened. America needs this book now more than ever before.” —Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

When the Founding Fathers were searching for the best and fairest form of government, they studied the models of Athenian democracy, the Roman republic, and the Iroquois Confederacy and created what is now called a modern liberal democracy. Today, 81 nations can be described as fully democratic. Yet in numerous countries around the world democracy has failed or is tottering, and in the United States its principles are increasingly under siege from corporate and other forces. Americans pride themselves on their democracy, but today's legislative process often no longer reflects the vision of the Founders.

In What Would Jefferson Do?, Thom Hartmann shows why democracy is not an aberration in human history but the oldest, most resilient, and most universal form of government, with roots in nature itself. He traces in particular the history of democracy in the United States, identifies the most prevalent myths about it, and offers an inspiring yet realistic plan for transforming the political landscape and reviving Jefferson's dream before it is too late.

"Hartmann has done it again. Passionately written and filled with original historical research, What Would Jefferson Do? offers important insights into the meaning and nature of democracy and what we must do to counter the warlords, theocrats, and corporate aristocrats who now place it at risk."--David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Post-Corporate World

"A riveting and absolutely essential book for anyone who wishes to reflect upon and awaken to the real meaning of America and the hope it still offers to the world."--Jacob Needleman, author of The American Soul:Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders

"A call to vigilance and action--to awaken the better angels of our democratic spirit and wrest our planet away from the corporate overlords. Infused with an optimistic spirit, What Would Jefferson Do? is a true 'patriot act' in the tradition of Thomas Paine."--Chuck Collins, United for Fair Economy, and coauthor of Wealth and Our Commonwealth

"Thom Hartmann looks at the big picture and asks the hard questions. He's an important voice for reclaiming our democracy."--Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen

"Thom Hartmann calls on us to take control of the helm and guide our nation back to its base of 'We the people.' Read this book for its historic grounding; heed his SOS for our future well-being."--Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and Codepink:Women for Peace

"Thom Hartmann offers us an eye-opening view of how democracy is threatened. America needs this book now more than ever before."--Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; First Edition edition (July 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thom Hartmann is the four-time Project Censored Award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of 23 books currently in print in over a dozen languages on five continents.
Hartmann is also an internationally known speaker on culture and communications, an author, and an innovator in the fields of psychiatry, ecology, and economics.
The co-founder (with his wife, Louise) and former Executive Director of The New England Salem Children's Village (1978) and The Hunter School (1997), he has led national innovations in the areas of residential treatment for abused children and private/public education for learning-disabled children.
He has helped set up hospitals, famine relief programs, schools, and refugee centers in India, Uganda, Australia, Colombia, Russia, and the United States through the German-based Salem International program. Formerly rostered with the State of Vermont as a psychotherapist, founder of The Michigan Healing Arts Center, and licensed as an NLP Trainer by Richard Bandler (who wrote the foreword to one of Thom's books), he was the originator of the revolutionary "Hunter/Farmer Hypothesis" to understand the psychiatric condition known as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
A guest faculty member at Goddard College in Vermont, he also synthesized the "Younger/Older Culture model" for describing the underpinnings - and possible solutions - to the world's ecological and socio-political crises, suggesting that many of our problems are grounded in cultural "stories" which go back thousands of years.
Leonardo DiCaprio was inspired by Thom's book "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight" to make the movie "The 11th Hour" (in which Thom appears), and Warner Brothers is making a movie starring DiCaprio and Robert De Niro from the book Thom co-authored with Lamar Waldron, "Legacy of Secrecy."
Talkers Magazine named Thom Hartmann as the 8th most important talk show host in America in 2011, 2012, and 2013 (10th the two previous years), and for three of the past five years the #1 most important progressive host, in their "Heavy Hundred" ranking. His radio show is syndicated on for-profit radio stations nationwide by Dial-Global, on non-profit and community stations nationwide by Pacifica, across the entire North American continent on SiriusXM Satellite radio, on cable systems nationwide by Cable Radio Network (CRN), on its own YouTube channel, via Livestream on its own Livestream channel, via subscription podcasts, worldwide through the US Armed Forces Network, and through the Thom Hartmann App in the App Store. The radio show is also simulcast as TV in realtime into nearly 60 million US and Canadian homes by the Free Speech TV Network on Dish Network, DirectTV, and cable TV systems nationwide.
His evening TV program, The Big Picture, is wholly owned by his own production company, produced in the RT studios, and licensed to and carried by Free Speech TV in the US, and into over 600 million homes in 104 countries via broadcast and cable by the RT TV network, and distributed worldwide on the web on Hulu.
As an entrepreneur, he's founded several successful businesses which still are operating, and lived and worked with his wife, Louise, and their three (now adult) children on several continents.
He was born and grew up in Michigan, and retains strong ties to the Midwest, although he and Louise have lived in New Hampshire, Vermont, Georgia, Germany, and Oregon...and now live on a boat in Washington D.C. with their attack-cat, Higgins.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 156 people found the following review helpful By William Hare on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I was first becoming politically active and living in Southern California, which was then an exciting if erratic "57 varieties" political stomping ground, I curiously visited the leading right wing bookstore in the area, located in Hollywood behind the insurance office of the man who ran it fervently with his wife. I often wondered how he could make any money in the insurance office due to its neglect in favor of concentrating on the activist bookstore.

There was a sign that always remained, while others, often posters concerning political campaigns that came and went, was one that read:

"If Jefferson and Franklin were living today they would be regular customers of this bookstore."

The right for years has sought to co-opt the Founding Fathers, particularly the great spokesman for liberty who penned America's Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson, as one of their own. If a liberal dared to quote Jefferson, a right-winger would smirk and say, "Have you ever read Jefferson? You liberals want big government. Jefferson stood for limited government. He wanted to extend individual liberty, not create a gigantic bureaucracy like you people do."

Thom Hartmann has done an adroit job of puncturing this right wing myth in his thoughtful and energetically researched work, "What Would Jefferson Have Done?" The principle launching point that draws the distinction between what the right has long proclaimed and the reality of Jefferson's beliefs is the period and circumstances under which Jefferson and the Founding Fathers who synergized with him, towering giants such as Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, lived and functioned.
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61 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kall VINE VOICE on September 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Yes, this is a book about government, about history. Yet over and over again, I felt my heart touched, and on a few occassions, tears welling in my eyes. Thom Hartmann has, by a strange accident of fate, become an extraordinary Jefferson scholar. When you combine the visionary mind of Rennaisance man Thom Hartmann with the revolutionary genius of an earlier Tom-- Thomas Jefferson, you get a book that wakes you up and gets you thinking about what you can do, what the nation and the world need to do to stop the founders of America from turning in their graves and stop the nation's turn toward decreased rights, liberties and freedom.

If you read political books, this is one you don't want to miss. Hartmann may not be as recognizable a name as some, but his ideas stand at least as tall, with the added strength of a unique vision that spans the centuries past and the centuries to come. This is a book that will become a classic people will read 50, even 100 years from now.

Hartmann is also one of the smartest, most informed talk show hosts in America today. He's been ranked among the top 100 in the business. His show can be called liberal, progressive, yet it is civil without nastiness. He says it is aimed at the radical middle.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By J. Gabrielli on January 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a breath of fresh air in a cynical, ill-informed country. It renewed my absolute awe of the Founders -- what they were up against, the debates they had, the inevitable compromises, and the incredible, living document they came up with -- our Constitution. It makes me feel somewhat ashamed at how lazy and complacent the American electorate has become. Are we even up to the task of defending American democrary? Do people even know what it is? Or what it has become?

This book should be required reading for every citizen. We have a lot of work ahead if we are to regain our democracy. Even for a die-hard idealist, I did find some of his prescriptions to be overly optimistic. But vision is something we need right now!
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I have got to believe Thomas Jefferson would be the first to laugh at the foreword he supposedly wrote for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction". Our third President purportedly asserts "You moderns have a tendency to worship at the altar of the Fathers," but "he" ends with a vital description of the Constitution as "a living document based on principles that transcended the times we lived in...a blueprint for a system to endure." Well put, as Jefferson was a true Renaissance man, a constant inventor and unequivocally a founding father in the history of democracy in this country. His ideal for the way this country should be run is as relevant now as it was back then, and I'm so glad Thom Hartmann's comprehensive and eminently readable book vouches for that fact in lucid terms. At a time when the Bush administration flagrantly disregards the Constitution and the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, Hartmann reminds us that we were founded on noble and then innovative principles that once protected the civil rights of its citizenry.

More than coincidentally, Hartmann focuses on why we so clearly need to separate church and state and the reasons why Jefferson was so passionate about this issue from witnessing the ramifications of a tyrannical clergy in England. In his day, there was a powerful movement to make the Ten Commandments the basis of American law, but Jefferson recognized how easily the alliance between church and state in England has led to unprecedented fraud among the judges who were appointed to uphold it. Clearly, the conservative right has been amassing power in more subtle ways today but to the same inevitable conclusions.
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