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454 of 673 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beck makes his point, but misses Paine's Reasoning., August 31, 2009
This review is from: Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine (Paperback)
As a fan on Thomas Paine (especially Common Sense and Age of Reason), I was very much excited to read Beck's book. After the first few chapters, I realized there is almost NO connection at all to Paine's work. It seems that it is more of marketing ploy to attach one's name to Paine and use a famous title of Paine's work that inspired a nation, to generate book sales. That initial frustration got me off to a bad start. That is of course in no way reflects Beck's view or his writing. However, I was "fooled" thinking this was a revisit of that classic work "Common Sense" to modern times. Unfortunately the book, other than title, has little if any connection to Paine's work.

Ironically - for those unfamiliar to Paine's work, but a fan of Becks - I wonder how they would find Paine's "Age of Reason" - it would almost stand to reason that he would lose half (if not more) of his supporters if he visited "Age of Reason" - he might even lose his show on Fox. Note any reference to that work is completely devoid in this book (which is a shame - if it where REALLY a tribute or inspiration of Paine - which I begin to wonder.)

However, are we to judge or compare Paine to Beck? Of course not and this certainly is NOT even close to measuring up to any of Paine's works. But the question is it worth the read?

Beck's writing is very weak and many cases repetitive. Not able to grasp tangible arguments he sometimes ventures down ad hominem methods - which lower the value of his arguments. It is important to note that regardless if I agree or disagree with some of this points, his methods and suspicions are conjecture and rudimentary. The connections to past affiliations can lead to suspicion, but certainly does not make the case. It's is logical in approach, but fails in Reason - and that is probably the greatest flaw in Beck's work (as compared to Paine).

Paine used "reason", not just logic to forward his view and arguments, Beck falls flat in this regard. Beck's approach is simple (and I hate to say, but kindergarten) logic. If X is Y, and Y is Z, then Z must be X. On the surface you can make some very stunning conclusions, but the logic is flawed by reason - (unfortunately).

I say unfortunately because Beck has some important points to make and does bring dialogue to the table as per the state of our federal government. This is an important debate as to where we are going, what our future holds, what is the role of the government. However, his ability to string a fluid thought process together with not just logic, but also reason, in order to give weight to his message fails. It is geared way below the bar and is so embarrassingly written for such an important topic that he does his view a disservice.

Beck's problem is not his message, it's his delivery. It reads poorly and a ranting narrative trying to connect minutia based on logic. It most certainly will charge both the left and right (just like his show), but don't expect intelligent debate.

5 stars for a rehash of Beck's message, introducing people to a great and important work (Common Sense). If you love his delivery and his message - then by all means - purchase this book.

1 star for offering any intelligent debate that goes beyond a basic dot-to-dot connection on some frivolous examples. I really wanted this to be an inspirational book, but it significantly falls flat. Unfortunatly it reads as if the town jester is giving an inspiring message.

-5 (that's negative) stars - for making any connection to one of the most important works in U.S. political history, "Common Sense". I would suggest reading "Common Sense", "Age of Reason", "Federalist Papers", and "Anti-Federalist Papers" - to see not only how logic and reason collectively work together, but to gain insight as to what Beck is TRYING to accomplish in this very rudimentary work. At the very least he brings awarness.

The book should be called "Beck's Sense" (logic without reason)

This great quote by Paine explains why the book fails to deliver its important message:
"The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall."

Reviewers Politics: Libertarian/ Laissez Faire
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 31-40 of 68 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 12, 2010 2:48:36 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 12, 2010 2:51:27 PM PDT
Prohobo says:
To V. Do,

You claim the first problem with my review is that I claim it is very weakly connected to Paine's work. I stand by that. Just because Beck opens up with a statement and a rudimentary connection, doesn't mean they are connected. Of course they are both critical of the government, but so are almost all political books. My first problem is that Beck quickly gets lost in the blame game and playing the association game, while Paine focuses on the mechanics of the problem. Paine is inspiring change of the framework (The Rights of Man and Natural Law); Beck is pointing at a political party's ideology. No it is not connected, other than very rudimentary with Paine's work. I find it difficult for anyone who has read both books to find connection beyond a few words and a title.

You say my second problem is that "any logical reader will see that yesterday's problems are not today's problems." - Well that kind of refutes your first point (problem) you have with my review. Paine's work is about independence and the framework of government, Beck's is not. How can you say my review's first problem is that the books ARE comparable and then say the second problem with my review is that they are not comparable? Which is it?

Your third problem with my review, I think his writing is poor, is fair. You may like it, I just thought Beck's writing is very weak - he thinks making a CONNECTION should be earth shattering, but it is not. Maybe the problem is that the sheeple who he is trying to wake up (which should have been woken up years ago), are on the national average reading level - which I believe 6th grade. I don't think Beck or Paine tried to write "down" to the average reading level. I think Paine is just a better writer (by a wide margin) and Beck is a talk show host and comedian that is a poor writer. However, if it gets the masses of a$$es THINKING and TALKING for once - maybe it has done some good.

Paine's work inspired a nation. It focused on the fundamental framework of the system and the problems we faced as a nation and people. He woke people up to the NATURAL LAWS and the RIGHTS OF MAN. It was an inspirational book that still has very important merits today.

Beck's book is about blaming a political party, making loose connections of affiliation, and just doom mongering for the most part. It sure does inflame people, but it certainly doesn't inspire much.

Beck DOES make some important points, but they get lost in his weak command of the English language and then falling further down the rabbit hole of blame game and rudimentary associations.

I hate to say it - I think Beck is fundamentally right that there are serious problems that need to be address. Additionally, if his book wakes people up to take a more active interest - then great. I just feel sorry for our nation and that it takes a poorly written book like this to inflame, rather than inspire.

Posted on Jul 12, 2010 9:04:03 PM PDT
sdf says:
You've shown amazing tenacity in arguing with these beck adorers! It's an extraordinary world where
there can be a sustained debate about the merits of Glenn Beck and his (dis)similarities to Thomas
Paine. It's like comparing a diabolical comic-book version of Alvin and the Chipmunks to the Brothers Karamazov:
both are written by humans, but that's where the parallel ends.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 7, 2010 8:44:29 AM PDT
K. saba says:
Dear Alan,
Your review is excellent and summaries all the problems in our country. Yes, our gov. has gotten to big and is out of control.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2010 11:06:04 PM PDT
Alan Smithee-It appears that you have never actually watched Olbermann all the way through. A significant proportion of his show on a regular basis is simply non-political amusement. I think it's not hatred of the right so much as it is scorn for the kind of thinking you so rightly criticize from Beck. I'm not sure why you don't see the difference between hate and righteous indignation from Olbermann when you so obviously see exactly that from Beck. And if you are remotely honest you will surely acknowledge that Olbermann presents far more verifiable factual information than you will ever see from Beck. So he's awfully smarmy about it. So what.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2010 11:09:52 PM PDT
Alyssa, freedom of speech or expression does not protect one from disagreement or even ridicule. You or Beck speak freely and no one is threatening your freedom to do so, even those who publicly declare both of you to be idiots.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 23, 2010 11:16:15 PM PDT
Could you please at least spell the man's name correctly??? It's PainE!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2010 5:42:48 AM PDT
Prohobo says:

Why are you bringing up Olbermann? This is a review about Beck's book. "Olbermann presents far more verifiable factual information..."? Please, a guy that has the Worse Person of the World and a Top 10 Count Down that can only point to the Right?
Why do you think the show is called an Op-ed?

Look I am no Beck fan either. However, I would argue that Beck is not just listing off the Top 10 List or calling people the "Worse Person". I think Beck (while I don't agree with many of his views) is bringing for topical issues - hence my review of his book (which I was disappointed with). Just because I am not a Beck fan or think his book is that great - I can't deny he does bring some very important points to view.

Take a look around.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2010 9:50:54 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 24, 2010 9:55:31 AM PDT
K. saba says:
I listen to Beck about once every two weeks. I find him to be intelligent, creative and amusing. I agree with him most of the time.
I saw one show where he had a black audience and black guests. Most were republican and talking about how Obama is a failure economically.
I also liked his program about blacks who help create our country, and who were taken out of the history books by Woodward Wilson. His programs are different then the boring repetition that you find in the media.

Posted on Aug 24, 2010 10:05:50 PM PDT
Alan, "Why are you bringing up Olbermann?"
Sorry, you brought up Olbermann, not me. And he provides a reasoned and factual counterpoint to Beck. And your comment indicates you probably haven't watched more than a few minutes of his show.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2010 6:22:33 AM PDT
Prohobo says:

I didn't bring him up in my review, are you commenting to my comments?

My only point about Olbermann (in my comments) is that he is no different than any other "Left" or "Right" Op-ed show. He openly hates the "Right". I certainly don't go to him for news or facts! It's a Top-10 show and about the "Worse Person in the WOOOORRRRLLLLLDDD!"

It's an Op-Ed show - whether you like him or not.

Wiki on Olbermann's Countdown:

"The show is known for Olbermann's fast-paced rhetorical style, historical and pop culture references, and liberal commentary. Olbermann melds news stories, both serious and light, with commentary, much of it critical of Republicans and conservative politics. The show has been the source of some controversy due to these criticisms, as well as its host's ongoing criticism of Fox News Channel, to which he refers using a variety of satirical names ("Fox Noise", "Fixed News", "Clusterfox"), and his feud with Bill O'Reilly of Fox's The O'Reilly Factor, whose show runs directly opposite."

If you remove his constant bashing of the "Right" he show would shrink to about 2 minutes. I have watched it and I think he is the only person that is STILL bashing President Bush (who hasn't been in office since 2008) - Dude - it's 2010!!!! The reason is he would NEVER bash Obama since he is an openly supporter of the Democrats.

Look I don't mind Olbermann - just like I don't mind O'Reilly. My problem with BOTH of them is that they think they are both unbiased - that's is what annoys me. If they would just each call their shows "Oblermann's Pro-Left Countdown" and "O'Reilly's Right Factor" and admit their own biased views - I don't think anyone would have a problem.

So why don't we end the whole Olbermann nonsense - and if you wish to continue use Olbermann as your "go-to fact guy" - God Help America that you are in the minority (God used for sentence impact - not a religious reference.)

Let's save this for comment's on Beck's Common Sense book or my critical review of it.

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