Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture Hardcover – June 2, 2011
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"A Manichean analysis from a strident new voice from the Right---for liberals, something intended to ignite antagonism; for the like-minded, a buttress against the opposition." ---Kirkus --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
About the Author
David Mamet 's Glengarry Glen Ross won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1984. He is also the author of Writing in Restaurants and On Directing Film, both available from Penguin.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
The book is divided into 39 essays, and the first 2/3s of them hang together pretty well. A few of the later essays, while nice reading, seem less connected to his central theme.
There's a lot of wisdom in this book, excellently expressed. If I was writing speeches for a conservative candidate, this book would be a "go-to" resource for useful quotes. If you love the American culture that has thrived under our Constitution for so long, and want to remind your representative how and why it's worked so well, this should be a book you press into their hands.
Even more important, if you have kids, and want them to have fulfilling, successful lives, read this book to them.
But this book has nothing to do with Mamet’s talent at his craft. The book is instead a distressed discourse about his views on the evils of what he believes is liberalism. It’s about his heady and doctrinal reversal of political affiliation, from his youthful leftward leanings to his now rightward conservative fellowship and tribe.
There’s much to admire about Mamet’s dramatic works. His body of work is intense and alive. He’s considered an iconoclast and a writer of powerful dialogue. But the tone of this book comes across a bit like it was written from a favorite uncle who is now a crank. You love him, but you’re careful who you invite to the house when he’s around. Times, and people change.
The book is a bit politically dated since its copyright date of 2011. In it, he writes of his displeasure over the election of President Obama, who he says represents “…a decent into socialism,” “… the herd mentality of slavery” and all things bad.
In the book, Mamet explains his views of the usual right-wing deceits. It’s a war. Conservatives are good. Liberals are bad. He argues for the use and the safety of nuclear power, the abolishment of “politically correct” language” (It stifles spontaneity he says… and it does), and dismisses environmentalism as a left-leaning religion contrary to common sense.
Unlike most conservative analysis of the politically Left, Mamet does not rail against all the usual suspects to which the Right feel victim. Following his comment that, “Our culture is being destroyed by the left,” Mamet castigates liberal Jews of his own faith, Liberal Arts majors, those who not only run, but flock to film schools and all politicians, left and right. Unmentioned are the liberal lawyers (the ACLU, civil rights and lentiginous kind), the doctors (the Doctors Without Borders type), teachers (who would unionize), the press (mainstream), the creative of Hollywood (the George Clooney’s, Barbara Streisand’s and the Oprah types), the non-Republican rich (the Soros and Buffet kind) and any hard-working stiff who sees value and power in organizing people to fight for their demands. Liberals, Mamet writes, “reject wisdom,” …are lazy and “…don’t know the value of work.”
If this is the kind of bushwa that fills your brain (or if this is the kind of bushwa you want to fill your brain with,) I think you’d be better off spending a half an hour or so with TV’s Fox “News”, a few minutes with Rush Limbaugh’s radio program or a perusal of Ann Coulter’s web page (At least Ann Coulter has a sense of humor). To touch Mamet’s genius, look instead to his dramatic works. His Glengarry Glen Ross, and American Buffalo are rightly placed on any list of America’s great literary works of art.
Mamet does have an interesting slant on a couple of the usual conservative canards. The concept of Climate Change, he says, is a liberal ruse. And though it’s not quite the “Chinese Hoax” perpetrated on the United States by wily Asians (As Trump, America’s current conservative standard bearer warns), it’s instead, he says, a Left Wing metaphorical cry “… that the sky is falling,” a misguided alarm that liberals hope, he says, will turn us all into “pagan” tree worshiper who long to sit around the tribal campfire
On abortion, no mention is made of women’s right to choose, the argument over life’s beginnings or the legislation of morality. Instead, Mamet posits that the liberal support of abortion rights is really about the Left’s strategy to limit overpopulation.
Mamet’s argumentative strategy is that of the political caricaturist. The most intemperate and self-indulgent of the opposing party is used to typify its principles, and then lampooned as crazy.
All of us, Right and Left alike, wince when from behind our political banners comes a rag-tag group of misfits; white supremacists and gun-nuts on the right, and anarchists and dubious new-age healers on the left. The political fringe make easy targets.
The hotheads on the right amass assault rifles and gargantuan ammunition clips. They target-practice on human silhouettes with faces they project to be the “bad guy’s” unlike themselves, shooting at factions who vote heavily democratic (when they are allowed to vote).
The firebrands on the Left want the Right quarantined to marginal tracts of land (in the South perhaps, where they have a head-start) where they can play war-games and find other scapegoats for their misery while leaving the rest of America, especially on the coasts, alone (The long-running petition to gather support for the secession of Texas from the United states has been signed in great numbers by liberals. If the secessionist’s get their way, there is hope that the liberal- leaning and musically inclined city of Austin can be gerrymandered into the state of Colorado).
Any right-wing admonition against the Left wouldn’t be complete without the mention of the US constitution. And Mamet writes that America’s political arguments must default to the “first principles” of the Constitution. Mamet is prescient in this book when he writes that the American Constitution is “…a document based not upon the philosophic assumption that people are basically good but on the tragic confession of the opposite view.” This fact was not lost on the framers of our constitution, who created a document to blunt the abuse of power by the few by decentralizing authority and imbuing power to all citizens, even the marginalized.
This idea of liberty for the many rather than a narrow concept of power has always been troublesome for the politically conservative; an ideology usually enamored of the past, resistant to change, and dazzled with autocrats and plutocrats. There is reason to believe that at America’s beginnings the conservative ethic would have rather had a King George Washington rather than an untried system that would give power to who they would consider as rabble.
One though can understand the value of Mamet’s polarized reality. “Life as war” is creative grist to the dramatist. Conflict is at the heart of all good stories. May the best man win, or be beaten to a pulp by the experience. It’s theatrical. And weather we are talking of a liberal or conservative playwright, the up-side is that there’s money in the portrayal of conflict, verbal and otherwise.
The book is well written, but the reader should be advised that its prose is not always linear. In fact, it's often circular like poetry, no doubt because Mamet is a playwright who works with the spoken word.
The only negative about the book is that Mamet was, at least when he wrote the book, extremely disparaging about his past beliefs as is often the case with recent "converts." I understand having been one myself.
Most recent customer reviews
I've always admired David Mamet's style, from his early Pinteresque dialogue to his brilliant...Read more