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Moyers on Democracy Hardcover – May 6, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Veteran journalist and author Moyers (Moyers on America, The Power of Myth) staunchly attacks conservative government as one of "millions of Americans who are restless to get on with their revolution." In this volume-a collection of speeches, addresses, talks and lectures from as far back as the '80s-Moyers argues that participatory citizenship breathes life into American democracy, and whatever undermines active citizenship threatens to destroy the system. Moyers reminds readers that the U.S. stands "on the shoulders of brave ghosts," and challenges them to treat, with courage, the country's socio-political ills. The author provides illustrative portraits of dear friends like Fred Friendly and Hubert Humphrey, positioning himself among passionate journalists and left-leaning politicians. Some may recoil from his lobbyist outrage (they "hide... behind the flag while ripping off a country in crisis"), but his long-lived devotion to the American ideal of self-governance, on the whole, guides him well. His insight, sweeping political and historical expertise, and unflinching defense of his ideals should captivate both scholars and concerned citizens, though it's more likely to appeal to those already on Moyers's wavelength.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Moyers, best known for his show on PBS, is also a skilled orator who has for decades been sharing his thoughts on democracy with diverse audiences. This collection of speeches offers a conscientious, passionate examination of those principles and ideals that rightly provoke pride in America and the shortcomings that should evoke shame, as Moyers points to assaults on the U.S. Constitution, a growing divide between the rich and the poor, and weakening of press independence. This collection reflects Moyers’ understanding of the importance of getting things right—not just the facts but the tone and tenor of the time and the sensibilities of the people. The collection also reflects his understanding of the importance of setting things right. He recalls a boyhood spent in a loving and religious small Texas town, where he was oblivious to the mistreatment of black citizens. He offers moving tributes to giants who upheld the highest ideals of democracy and simple human decency, including William Sloane Coffin, Hubert H. Humphrey, Lady Bird Johnson, and Barbara Jordan. He begins each essay with the context of time then and now in the continuum of an examination of American ideals in separate sections devoted to public service, history, politics, the media, and religion. Fans of his television show will hear Moyers’ well-modulated voice in these thoughtful and thought-provoking speeches and lectures. --Vanessa Bush
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Tags democracy, politics, religion, civil rights, speeches
This is a collection of Moyer's speeches over many years that touch on the subject of democracy. If I could, I'd give a copy to everyone in the world to read. Forget Nicholas Cage movies, Bill Moyers is THE National Treasure.
Mr. Moyers probably doesn't believe in reincarnation - though he would respect my right to do so - but I think in one of his previous lives he must have been a bard, and in another one of those court jesters who was the only person to tell the king the truth. For he has both the journalistic integrity to be dedicated to finding the truth and to sharing it with the public. The speech he gave on Hubert Humphrey is one of the best pieces of writing, fiction or non-fiction, I've ever read in my life, and many of the other pieces are of similar quality.
It is hard to give a sense of the book, because it wanders many places in talking about democracy. There are obituaries here, to such people as Barbara Jordan, William Sloane Coffin, and Fred Friendly. There is a commencement address. Issues of media, politics, and religion are discussed. And always, Moyers gives us history, often history of the relatively unknown and their struggles to be free. It is an inspirational book, one that sets the mind alight to preserve and restore freedom and its handmaiden, responsibility.
Publication Doubleday (2008), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 416 pages
Publication date 2008
ISBN 0385523807 / 9780385523806
Moyers is an eloquent voice of that conscience, a clear and positive contrast to narcissist negative nagging typified by Rush Limbaugh. Nags are always pessimistic; conscience encourges one to be better. In the best of times, as in the worst of times, Americans share an optimism they can improve themselves and their society.
Nags have a purpose, if you like "boss others around" attitudes.
Conscience is a small quiet voice of personal responsibility, challenge and constructive incentives. America is a land of boundless excess; after the ruin of the Civil War, it took only 40 years to become the world's richest and most powerful nation. Andrew Carnegie typified the success of excess; he created a dynamic modern steel industry, then the world's finest public library system.
Moyers made his early contributions in politics. Instead of acquiring a personal fortune, he became a founder of the Peace Corps, one of the lasting elements of American compassion. He then turned to "the library function", providing people with information.
Unlike the compulsive nature of moral nags, no one is forced to read a book and no one is forced to listen to Moyers. Instead, the strength of both is intelligent acceptance by the community. Don't be put off by the cover photo of Moyers; he looks like a nag, but he reads like an inspiration.
This book offers some of the best of Moyers over the past 20 years. It is a collection of gems to remind us the best qualities of America are not the politics of bitterness, the greed of selfishness or the pessimism of dismal doom.
Would America be better without Limbaugh? Perhaps not.
It is better because of Moyers. The greatness of America is its diversity of ideas. Moyers offers some of the best, and this book is a reminder of the success of decency in a world that sometimes seems to be utterly mad, selfish and foolish.