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The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race Hardcover – September 21, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Eight-time Emmy-winner Stewart (America: The Book) seeks to expand his audience to aliens who might land on earth after the extinction of the human race and be puzzled over the artifacts we've left behind. "Greetings... on behalf of not only ourselves, but the entire Viacom family," he writes in this laugh-out-loud, rollicking social satire. In place of skits there are elaborate, color illustrations accompanied by captions written with his trademark deadpan humor; for instance, a photo of a mother and baby-elephant holds the caption, "advances in contraception and industrialized food production allowed modern couples to have fewer offspring, while leaving the total weight of families constant." Nothing is off-limits here, not even Benjamin Franklin, whose pithy saying "Nothing is certain but death and taxes" Stewart expands upon. The book ends with a plea to the aliens to reconstruct the human race from DNA in the hope that, with guidance from the visitors, "we could overcome the baser aspects of our nature... and give this planet the kind of caretakers it deserves," revealing the tears behind Stewart's clown. Photos.
First America (The Book), and now, six years later, Earth. Yes, once again fearless anchor and ringleader Jon Stewart and his gang of snark-attack writers at The Daily Show bring barbed, laser-guided intelligence camouflaged with gleeful vulgarity to the page, this time to tell the story of Earth from its gritty beginnings as an unwieldy whirl of gasses and dust to its coalescence into a “fertile oasis of sophisticated life in the endless barren expanse of the universe (no offense).” Why “no offense”? Because this guide to Earth and human civilization, from the Parthenon to reality TV, is addressed to the aliens who will arrive in the wake of humankind’s looming self-destruction. In the hope of being remembered, and, perhaps, replicated, the wily and irreverent Daily Show crew marshal arrays of small images spiked with sight gags and accompanied by vinegary little captions to chronicle humankind’s rampant inventiveness and deadly inanity. Patches of actual science, albeit laced with such silly business as a recipe for Primordial Soup, give way to comedic takes on everything from adolescence to Larry King, our obsession with skin color, love (which has inspired poetry and restraining orders), celebrities, religion, advertising, and war. Funny on levels high and low, this rambunctious chronicle of the defeat of reason is a topsy-turvy tribute to a planet of “singular beauty” and its problem children. --Donna Seaman
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Top Customer Reviews
Very funny and extremely witty..
Pop culture references.
If you cannot point a finger at yourself and laugh with humor then perhaps you should skip this one.
It really is for those who can laugh at anything/everything and not easily offend.
Jam packed with irony.
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When I was seven-years-old I looked around at my grade school classmates. The kids all looked pretty much like John's companion on the cover. And with a few notable exceptions, the bulk of them were as mean junkyard dogs.
As I pondered all of this, I came to the conclusion that I was dropped here by an advanced alien civilization to observe the locals, but being a government operation, they lost the paperwork and forgot to pick me up and debrief me. And Now, I am stuck on this stinking backwater berg of a planet.
John's book is put together as a typical fourth grade geography book. Okay, not my fourth grade geography book. I went to a Catholic school where we had really old textbooks. My fourth grade geography book was published a decade before I was born. Tanganyika and Zanzibar were still on the map, and the teacher had to keep saying things like, well, that's no longer there; it's now called..."
I suppose it could have been worse, as the case of the RAF squadron leader who instructed his pilots, " Just drop your bombs just above where it says Holy Roman Empire."
Now imagine that the entire book were made out of these commented infographics, with the subject matter shifted from the USA to the entire planet, and aimed at an audience of aliens who find the Earth deserted after the human race spectacularly manufactures its own demise, and you have Earth (The Book).
If you haven't read America (The Book) - and if not, what are you waiting for? You can grab the paperback for less than $10 here on Amazon - just think of this as the anti-coffee table book. It's a tome that delightfully destroys all aspects of society, from our perceptions of aliens to the planet itself to commerce, religion and culture. It can be picked up occasionally and flipped to a random page, as each joke is encapsulated and confined. Or, it can be read large sections at a time, with every word and picture perused until you can laugh no more. There is at least one brilliant joke per page, and quite often more than that.
This book pokes fun at anything and everything, and you may find the finger pointing at yourself now and again. If you can't laugh at your own idiosyncrasies and beliefs, skip this book and recommend it to someone with a sense of humor. If you can't take a joke, this book isn't for you.
The only down side, one that America (The Book) has less of a problem with, is that some of the jokes can't stand the test of time in the long term. In 50 years, the numerous pop culture references throughout the book will be largely forgotten, lost to the winds of time. It's better that way, of course, as their shallowness is a significant reason why this book makes fun of them. So perhaps this won't be one of the great literary classics, discussed and venerated for all time, but there's certainly enough timeless humor in here for it to be funny at least as long as you'll be alive. Get it now, and leave it in a conspicuous place when you're not reading it (the coffee table, perhaps?), so that when we do destroy ourselves, the aliens can see this message.
Hopefully, they'll get the joke.
Earth is formatted as a fun hybrid between a middle school textbook and The Old Farmer's Almanac. Pretty much every page is fun to look at, and the whole book is packed with photos, illustrations, factoids, and captions. Earth is relatively light on actual prose, so don't expect the chapter structure of a typical book. Each page has about 100 different things on it, which I personally found a bit overwhelming at times reading this one from cover to cover. This isn't really a huge complaint, especially if you're going to be reading it more casually or using it as a coffee table book - but I thought it was worth mentioning.
If any of this sounds good to you, then I'd be surprised if you didn't get your money's worth with Earth. Have fun with the Daily Show's memoir of our little blue planet.