- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (May 12, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465014933
- ISBN-13: 978-0465014934
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#323,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #333 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Specific Topics > Civics & Citizenship
- #402 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Elections & Political Process > General
- #464 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Elections & Political Process > Elections
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Just How Stupid Are We?: Facing the Truth About the American Voter Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Shenkman (Presidential Ambition) makes the provocative argument that as American voters have gained political power in the last 50 years, they have become increasingly ignorant of politics and world affairs—and dangerously susceptible to manipulation. The book provides a litany of depressing statistics—most Americans cannot name their representatives in Congress, only 20% hold a passport, 30% cannot identify the Holocaust—as Shenkman inquires whether Americans are capable of voting in the nation's or even their own best interests. Although Shenkman clearly derives some pleasure in pointing out the stupidity and irrationality of the American public, his concern is genuine and heartfelt. In lucid, playful prose, he illustrates how politicians have repeatedly misled voters and analyzes the dumbing down of American politics via marketing, spin machines and misinformation. Shenkman initiates an important conversation in this book and makes welcome suggestions to reinvigorate civic responsibility and provide people with the knowledge and tools necessary to efficaciously participate in the political process. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Rick Perlstein, author of "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of American Consensus"
"A smart, stylish, and witty wrestling match with the most difficult problem a democracy can face."
"At a moment when Americans are choosing leaders, Rick Shenkman's brisk, provocative and vigorously argued book implores us to rethink our roles as citizens and improve our political environment. There could not be a better time for this important message."
Jon Wiener, Professor of History at University of California at Irvine and author of "Historians in Trouble"
"The bad news is that Americans are ignorant, shortsighted, and swayed by meaningless phrases; the good news is that things could get better--if we start speaking honestly about the problem. Rick Shenkman's book is a crucial starting point in that process."
Bernard A. Weisberger, author of "America Afire"
"With wit, passion and devastating evidence, Shenkman compels us, the praised and petted 'American people, ' to look in the mirror for an explanation of why our elections are travesties of informed, intelligent debate. Lively and crucial, the book reminds us, however we vote, that there's no such animal as 'democracy for dummies.'"
Ruth Rosen, Professor Emerita of History, University of California, Davis
"Are manipulative politicians and an intimidated media the only reasons we've had to suffer through the Bush years? What about the American people? Why don't they stop, pay attention, and think for themselves? In his candid and hard-hitting history of American political culture, Shenkman offers a compelling and disturbing analysis of the American people and why we get the government we deserve."
"New York Observer"
"Slender, lively and highly accessible ....it tackles one of the weightiest problems troubling American public life"
Top Customer Reviews
Rick Shenkman's Just How Stupid Are We? not only wholeheartedly embraces Mill's observation, but also eliminates any remaining doubt about the growing inadequacy of the American electorate to participate responsibly in democracy. A few of the chilling facts with which the book is crammed:
--half of us can name 4 characters from "The Simpsons," but less than a quarter can name more than one of the guaranteed rights in the First Amendment.
--only 2 out of 5 voters can name all three branches of the federal government.
--only 1 in 5 know that there are 100 federal senators.
--only 1 in 7 can find Iraq on a map.
--only one-fifth of Americans between ages 18-34 bother to keep up with current events.
How to account for this frightening state of ignorance? And just as importantly, what to do about it?
In answer to the first question, Shenkman suggests that the steady erosion of party and labor bosses, who despite their frequent misuse of power at least tended to keep their followers politically informed, has thrown the average voter to the mercy of shallow network commentary (if that) and corporate manipulation.Read more ›
Nevertheless, beyond agreeing with this essential point, I didn't find this book as compelling as I thought I would. Basically this short book amounts to a sort of jeremiad against our citizens' lack of political knowledge. It reads quite fast, as I got through it in a few hours, but I didn't feel it brought anything new to the table.
My main problem is that, while Shenkman does succeed in providing further evidence that, yes, Americans aren't terribly bright when it comes to politics, history, and foreign affairs, he doesn't seem to engage in a sustained analysis of WHY. He provides some evidence that the problem has become worse over time. Why? I wish he would have undertaken a more thorough analysis of the educational system. He hardly talks about the internet, except in the last chapter, where he briefly states he believes it holds promise to elevate political discourse (which actually flies in the face of some recent analyses). He reserves most of his criticism for television, to which he devotes a full chapter.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You're "stupid" if you're not a socialist and care about the constitution. You're "smart" if you are and don't. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Rational Bear
This is not a review for the book. It is a review for the truly lousy Audible service. It took almost two hours to get my computer authorized to play the thing. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Aldus Huxley
Excellent book, explains just how stupid the collective "we" are as voters. Very scary to ponder, regardless of party or slant.Published on February 5, 2014 by William Kaberlein
Nobody can be this dumb or stupid. America is a deep hypocrisy. Americans are in a deep trance. Americans are grotesque liars who will believe absurd nonsense. Read morePublished on January 28, 2014 by Stephen A Miller
I've said it about his other books, but Shenkman is a bathroom book genius. Quick, funny, interesting tidbits for a quick bathroom break. Read morePublished on January 20, 2014 by JS
Truly an insightful book about why the poor and uneducated support politicians and policies that are really against their own best interests.Published on January 19, 2014 by Falconlady
I have to confess that I only got through half of this. It just was not compelling enough a narrative and I really though the authors fixated too much on politics. Read morePublished on December 29, 2013 by Alexander E. Paulsen
This is a rather nice summary of democracy's imperfections. I have long suspected that in its present form it may not become the ultimate evolutionary structure of governance. Read morePublished on October 26, 2013 by H. Peter Nennhaus
Very interesting. I got this book for my political science class. The cover is smooth and matte. No complains. Great.Published on October 3, 2013 by Natalia