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Showing 1-10 of 35 reviews(2 star). See all 390 reviews
on May 3, 2017
I agreed w/ some of his ideas but he seemed to go overboard in making his points.
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on May 27, 2017
A valid thesis, but the arguments for its demonstration are not compelling and are rather disconcerted. The style of this book makes the reading not fluid and enjoyable as I expected. A book that was easy to put down: in fact as I reached page 125 I throw it in the paper recycle bin.
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on April 13, 2012
A good magazine article puffed up to book size with a mishmash of seemingly random narratives, and larded up with examples of how clever the author thinks he is.

Skip this mess and go straight to the source material.
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on September 30, 2017
Well, the premise kind of intrigued me, so I ordered this book (as an audio book). Turned out to be perhaps the MOST BORING book I ever suffered to listen to. I mean, Charles Pierce has a thesis which could have been admirably and completely spelled out in about four pages --or maybe one sentence, like "if something is repeated often enough, especially on TV or the internet, it becomes believable as truth". That's about it. But he has to spin it into a 360-page book, droning on about American cranks and the founding fathers, and let's not forget Ignatius Donnelly, a 19th century American crank. What, you've never heard of Ignatius Donnelly? Why not, because he's eminently forgettable, which is why no one (except perhaps Charles Pierce) has ever heard of him. But for some reason Pierce celebrates this guy for page after page. The narrator also has a particularly annoying sing-song, monotonic narration style. Well, you get my drift. This book is a snore fest, repetitious and outdated, considering it was published in 2011, well before the era of Donald Trump, and the new heights (or should I say depths) to which Idiot America has sunk. Maybe Pierce should write a sequel (NOT!).
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on December 5, 2013
For all his stridency in terms of exposing contradictions and stupidity of the right that he believes to be self evident, the irony is lost on him when it comes to his own buffoonery and bumbling use of language. A pithy example from page 92:

"to show them for what they are -- charlatans, but not cranks." Two sentences later: "a charlatan is a crank with a book deal". Two sentences later: "A charlatan is a crank who succeeds too well."

There's no end to the irony of this book.
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on December 26, 2016
Meh. Pierce is writing a polemic about anti-intellectualism and frequently comes off as sounding either very anti-intellectual himself, or as the kind of intellectual that most reasonable adults would be anti. My wife bought this before the election and left it around the house, so I picked it up after the election and scanned it. Some commenters have noted the emotional kinds of stuff you would expect from a shouting heads show, and yes it's there. Red meat for the Blue Team, huzzah.

In one section, he reviews Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism; I haven't read Goldberg's book, but I'm familiar with it because I have an interest in the history of fascism and of Progressivism in the US. Of course, he pans it, but in the process commits the error of which he accuses Goldberg of committing: dropping all context. Specifically, he completely sidesteps the issue of whether Progressives were in favor of war. The correct answer is that some were and some were not, but while Goldberg rushes to condemn them all, Pierce exonerates them all, both incorrectly. If you're curious, check out the activities of erstwhile La Follette ally Richard T. Ely and the founders of The New Republic, especially Walter Lippmann, during WWI.

Speaking of Lippmann, there is a serious point to be made about anti-intellectualism, and he almost makes it here. Yes, it is disconcerting that so many people listen to and believe people like Rush Limbaugh, who is at least creative in his bombast, and Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, who are not. But consider the mainstream media - how many stories did we hear about yellowcake and WMD leading up to the Iraq war? It is equally distressing that people have no idea that Obama has bombed more countries than W while believing that he is a peace-loving president who would never keep Gitmo open, or kill civilians including children with drone strikes. You have to go to foreign websites to figure that out, and when you are confronted with this information and the glaring lack of it domestically, even the least informed citizen may conclude that the news "experts" are bulls***ting them. Obama himself takes credit for the increased domestic petroleum production and resulting drop in imports and prices while simultaneously condemning petroleum consumption. The rightwing anti-intellectuals won't touch those contradictions - they will simply say that Obama is against petroleum or okay with jihadists and challenge their listeners, "who ya gonna believe - me or your lying eyes?" Their listeners are uninformed, not stupid. It is the media itself, of which Charles Pierce is a member, and its reliance on photogenic, smooth-talking experts which is fueling the cognitive dissonance which pushes people into thinking that they are being lied to by experts, and that maybe their gut is a better guide. What did Twain say? "If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed." Cure thyself, doctor.
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on March 29, 2015
I bought this book hoping for an updated version of Anti-Intellectualism in America Society, which I read about 40 years ago. I was disappointed. Mr. Pierce is certainly a talented writer and Idiot America is very readable, but only if you think idiocy is exclusive to right-wing conservative political and religious groups. 

Mr. Pierce has obviously researched this topic in depth, as evidenced by historical references going back 200+years. Yet, they seem one-sided and when he refers to George W. Bush as a "blithering nitwit," his credibility is lost. This sort of emotional editorial plays well with the left, but doesn't begin to convince those who are rational, be they left, center, or right.  Ironic, isn't it? Mr. Pierce uses the same techniques to make his points that he says encourage and make a virtue of stupidity.

So, if you are going to read this book, you have no reason to think that it will challenge your intellect.  On the other hand, if you have already made up your mind that only the progressive left is capable of telling the truth and making rational decisions, you're going to love it.
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on September 15, 2011
My complaints have less to do with the content of the book, and more to do with the author's writing style. I tries several times, and just could not get through it. It does lean a little to the left in criticizing conservatives more than liberals, but not overbearingly so.
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on September 28, 2016
This book was quite a disappointment. On the positive side, it's well written, well researched, and, in some cases, provides interesting background on how issues unfolded. For the most part, however, it's little more than compendium of liberal political claptrap, with "idiots" being defined as those that don't buy the liberal agenda hook, line, and sinker. Mr Pierce writes with 20/20 hindsight - knowing the outcome of an event, it's very easy to go back and pick out who was ultimately right and say, "see, we should have listened to him!" Things might not have seemed quite so clear at the time the decisions were made. I can't help but agree with Mr Pierce that an ignorant public has enabled some genuinely bad political decisions and that some Americans have beliefs that are way out of touch with science, but the notion that disagreement with liberal political views always earns the moniker of "idiot" seems a bit farfetched.

If you're looking for a book that gives insight into how the American educational system is turning out "idiots," this is NOT it.
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on June 1, 2017
Delivered as promised.
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