on July 2, 2012
When I first saw this kid on TV, I was flabbergasted. He was obviously just mimicking the nonsense he hears on AM radio and FOX news - yet people ate it up. But don't take it from me, take it from 17 Year old Krohn, who has had 3 years to mature since the publishing of this book:
"a lot of what I said was ideological blather that really wasn't meaningful. It wasn't me thinking. It was just me saying things I had heard so long from people I thought were interesting and just came to believe for some reason, without really understanding it. I understood it enough to talk about it but not really enough to have a conversation about it."
Gay marriage? In favor. Obamacare? "It's a good idea." Who would he vote for (if he could) in November? "Probably Barack Obama." His favorite TV shows? "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report." His favorite magazine? The New Yorker. And, perhaps telling of all, Krohn is enrolling this fall at a college not exactly known for its conservatism: New York University.
"I think I've just matured overall," he added.
on May 2, 2010
Someone left this book on a table at my local bookshop, and since I had some time to kill, I speed-read through it. This is possible because the font size is slightly larger, the book itself relatively slender, and the prose rambling but not especially difficult to follow. And I was intruigued enough about the author to look him up. He has some speeches on YouTube and has been the subject of the occasional article in a few major publications.
The construction values of the book itself were also far from terrible for a minor press. It should hold up for a while although the boards are awfully thin. It might not "shelve" well in a tight bookcase without developing a spine slope and unaffixed leaves. But. the dust jacket photo is also positively grim, and the photographer and publisher should be embarrassed. But, to the book itself.
First off, kudos to any child of any age who wants to write. This should always be encouraged. And in one of the recent interviews I saw, the young man disdained the current use of inflammatory rheoric in political discourse like "socialist" and "fascist." And this is not at variance with the overall muted tone of the book in spite of its bloated title. Further, his regard for Professor William Bennett is unabashed and admiring. This is evident for reasons I will explain.
My concerns about the author himself are as follows. He is a child actor, literally. Although this is hardly a disqualifier, his speeches as CPAC were, indeed, "hammy" and overly-rehearsed, more recitations of the talking points popular at that time than anything fresh or new. This is not a problem, though. Speeches at such political events are routinely canned to fit the audience. It is rare that, say, a Bob Barr will take an "outrider" position at rah-rah affairs regardless of political orientation. Still, I always have a narrow suspicion of actors as paid political commentators in the vein of, for example, Meryl Streep's congressional testimony about Alar and apples years ago. Second, this book, according to the "Times," also had the aid of a "grammarian." So, I have to wonder about the extent of the undisclosed ghost writing involved. Lastly, I am always deeply concerned when children are used as political shills. Be it Sarah Palin's baby, the young man who spoke at the "Million Man March" some years back and whose name now escapes me, or the young gentleman here, it always strikes me as odd - and even weird - when minors, no matter how gifted or adorable, are deployed in such a fashion. One has to wonder if "Pinocchio" is a real boy or still something of wood and string.
Questions of credibility aside, the book itself was completely, totally unremarkable save the novelty value the author provides. Nothing in it was original insofar as I could see, and it also struck me that parts of it were little more than watered-down rehash of sections of Bill Bennett's "The Book of Virtues." Given the author's uncritical (insofar as any young adolescent is capable of higher order critical thinking) admiration for Bennett, this is perhaps not surprising. But, the "moral lessons" are nothing but a feeble paraphrase of Bennett's anthology at best and self-help lingo at worst. And the citations to great thinkers like Plato and Aristotle seemed, to me, to be more than a protracted exercise in "name dropping" than anything approaching a comprehensive engagement of thought as it might - or might not - apply to the modern era. And I am sorry to say this, but Krohn is obssessively Manichean in his "analysis," a notorious trait of most adolescents simply as a matter of human development. Philosophy and understanding philosophy come at least as much from age and sober, measured experience as reading great works, and it is not possible for me to accept that someone of this age possesses those experiences enough to comment on people like the incredibly complex and urbane Jefferson, for example, in anything but the most superficial manner. Being "gifted" and "understanding" are different quotients. I don't blame him for trying, though. It's tough.
As to the political sections, I will leave those alone. The one and two star reviews in this thread do a superior job in dissecting those, and I really have nothing to add that has not already been said a millon times. And again, the watchword is "superficiality." But one must needs expect nothing less from a child, especially one who is doing little more than parroting what others have already discussed or said. And that's really all he does. It's definitely "Reader's Digest" fare.
But, two stars for the fact that a child who writes, even in this cynical circus, might be an example to others who dream of publishing something one day, political patronage or no.
But, overall, this book is dreadful for adult readers, nothing more than a protracted excercise in paraphrase. A teen might like it. Maybe. But I would not press it.
"And a child will lead them," as the old chestnut goes. Just watch out for the cliff. It's a whopper.
on August 4, 2012
Krohn's book needs a sequel!
This young man is obviously very intelligent.
Now how about his 2012 reversal?
Here's from Wikipedia:
In 2012, Krohn confirmed to Politico that he no longer considers himself a conservative, and in fact takes a liberal point of view on many issues, including same-sex marriage and Obamacare. He also says that if he were old enough to vote in the 2012 presidential election, he would vote for Barack Obama. However, he refused to describe himself as liberal, instead rejecting ideological labels entirely. Krohn attributes his change to reading works of philosophers such as Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, and rejected social conservatism first, before rejecting other conservative viewpoints. Krohn stated that he had matured and described his 13-year-old self as "naive".
Jonathan Krohn was far too young when he wrote this to understand the subjects he wrote about. What he has proved by writing the book was that anyone his age can compile a certain amount of ideological ideas to create a fairly thin book with no originality. All of his 'ideas' have been written about by other authors at much deeper levels. There is nothing new here.
Other than the novelty of a book written by someone so young, this book is not worth buying.
I have also heard that he disavows some of what he has written, which is not surprising for any child. However, if he now thinks it is bunk then why buy it? He is on his way to the university, and if they don't turn him into a liberal and he actually maintains any conservative values then, and only then, will I truly believe he is a free thinker.
on March 13, 2010
Amazing, that a fourteen year old young man not only reads books but actually wrote a book and got it published. Truly amazing, and I applaud him for his extraordinary accomplishment at such a young age. But that's where, in my view, the amazement ends. Those of us who are now past forty, if we can even remember being fourteen, look back on those days and realize how impressionable and ideological we were at that age. Jonathan is apparently no exception. What is exceptional about him and his book, despite the generous use of party line clichés and a few glaring contradictions, is the fact that he is obviously very intelligent, if not gifted, articulate, and that he has strong and well stated opinions about a subject to which few fourteen year olds would give any thought, time or attention. In time, as with most of us as we mature, his blacks and whites will turn to grey and his strong opinions will, hopefully, become tempered with the wisdom that comes from maturity and a growing realization that what he now sees as an obvious and absolute truth is, in reality, only his truth and not necessarily everyone else's. Aside from that, I found his book to be well worth the time it took to read on several levels. First, from a historical standpoint, his may be the only book written by a fourteen year old that I will ever have in my library that has attempted to tackle such a broad and complicated subject and that has done it so well at his age. Second, the young man is obviously a force of nature such as we have seldom seen and I will be very interested to follow his career and to watch him grow and develop. Third, as his opinions, thoughts and ideas continue to bake and to become more his own as opposed to someone else's, I believe he will become a positive influence in the age old struggle for social justice. That can only be a good thing. He seems to want the best for America and for that, I encourage him, support him and I support his book and as he continues to play out his given role on the stage of human events, I look forward to hearing more from him.
on January 20, 2014
Jonathan apparently doesn't believe his own writings, wrote the truth but then he turned to believe a lie. Sorry I ever purchased the book.
on March 19, 2010
Jonathan Krohn at 14 is one of the more literate and well-informed people in this country! In a thin (200 pages) book, he has explained logically and clearly just what Conservatism is. His syllogisms are tight and easy to understand. He compares true conservatism to "government expansionism" (his term for liberals or progressives). For Krohn, conservatism is quite logical, while expansionism is not based in logic, but, rather, is based in emotion.
This is not a quick or "easy" read. It is quite thought provoking, and demands time for "mulling over."
I'm still in the "mulling over" phase, but he demands that one think and respond.
I may be ready to respond more later. In the meantime, however, I highly recommend this book - for both liberals and conservatives, alike. We need more thought and less rhetoric in politics.
on March 25, 2010
I echo the sentiment of some of the other reviewers... Jonathan is impressive for his age and it is encouraging if this leads to other young men and women taking an active interest in civics, philosophy, economics, etc. However, the lack of nuance, as is expected in adolescents and unfortunate in adults, is disappointing. Everything cannot be boiled down to black and white. Jonathan professes a love for logic and attempts to reduce issues to a mathematical equation but he makes leaps that do not equate. In building his equations, I feel, he starts with the answers as provided by the current Republican machine. I was particularly displeased with his elementary view of the Iraq war, which he deftly omits in name but characterizes as a fight against terrorism in order to champion strong spending on national defense. If he were serious about reviving conservatism he would be wise to release the hijacked definition of the word and follow a more nuanced course marked by moderation. Of course there is no money in being a moderate these days...
-BB, (truly) a conservative, former military officer, businessman and staunch believer in (truly) free markets
on February 17, 2010
Thank you Rembrandt Q. Einstein for your comments!!
Johathan has a lot going for him but I suspect he has already fallen into an "us vs them' ideology. I hope he reads books from Reinhold Niebuhr, Andrew Bacevitch, and Sam Tannenhaus, among others.
It seems to me that if politics is to evolve, if it is going to cultivate the kind of wisdom needed to address the severity of our problems that we face today no amount of conservatism or liberalism it going to help. We need a new wisdom, a kind of awarness that goes beyond the status quo.
Unfortuantely, Johnathan seems to be unaware that defining conservatism is easy. Putting it into practice is quite another. And if those who call themselves conservative or Rebulicans believe that their stance in all affairs is "the measure of all things" they will fail.
It seems Jonathan has already made this mistake even before you read the book. Just look at the front cover. Why have the American flag in the background? The implication here is that we need to be more Patriotic, to hold even faster to the virtues of our founding fathers but no amount of this will work. Johnahan -or anyone-can write the most hearfelt book on being conservative but it's mere sentiment. The problems we face today are far more complex that any ideolgy from any party and by holding on to the old, we lose sight of the real underlying problem that is infecting poltics like a virus and that is the pervasive corruption in goverment. The antidote is HONESY, SINCERITY, TRANSPERENCY,EMPATHY,and LISTENING with undivided attention to the REAL concerns of the American people as if your life depended on it!!
I hope Jonathan realizes that when you believe you are right and others are wrong,the very act of doing so makes you arrogant and blinds you from discovering what is true. Of what good is freedom and Democracy if under its banner you are lying to the American People? johnathan, please read Andrew Bacevich's book "the limits of power" See him give a talk about his book on Bill Moyer's journal website.
on June 17, 2010
Everyone who votes should read this book! Your 5th grade children should read this book (earlier if AG). If you believe that learning about conservatism will confirm your negative concepts, you should prepare to be surprised. You will get all of the basics and much more, in a very readable style.