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Showing 1-10 of 192 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 298 reviews
on January 19, 2014
This book is of course political, but it is also more than political - it explains the Tragic View of life, and how that leads to conservative principles. It also explains that the American Founders shared this view, and this is why they wisely wrote our Constitution as they did. Mamet brilliantly contrasts this tragic view with the Utopian or Idealistic View of life, and you can see clearly why we are now burdened with all these officious "do-gooders" polluting our lives with their confused sanctimony.

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.
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on June 3, 2017
David Mamet is an incredibly talented playwright with an ear for writing dialogue that cuts through the bull of mannered life like a scream.
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.
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on September 20, 2013
Well, Andrew Brieitbart's book Righteous Indignation opened my closed political eyes. I loved Andrew and after he died, heard an old podcast (The Dennis Prager show) and Andrew said David Mamet's book The Secret Knowledge gave Andrew HIS wake up call. Well, I bought it and it really is one of the most eye-opening yet poetic explanation of why Democrats are so closed minded (as he WAS one of those closed minded Democrats for most of his life). He pulls no punches, gets right to the point, and I loved this book so much and found it so easy to read, I read it in 2 days. It helped me to understand why some of my friends choose to believe that the Government is the answer to all problems and how I can approach them and help empower them by waking them up to smell the dependency coffee! I've read many books since Breitbart's, but none have really had a WOW factor that his did, until I read Mamet's Secret Knowledge. Loved. Loved. Loved it.
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on March 13, 2014
On leaving the Left one is shunned by the group. The fear of ostracism is one the most powerful devices the Left has to keep the true believers in lock step. That is why I have such great admiration for David Mamet, who had the courage to think for himself and eschew the slogans and free himself from group-think. In doing so, he faces the contempt, hatred and vile attacks from former colleagues and friends. He joins the ranks of other brave thinkers and writers such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Erik Rush and Ben Carson, who daily face the enmity and scorn of "the group" because of their beliefs and love of the Truth.
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on November 15, 2013
The book exposes again and again the continuing battle between hope and experience, between emotion and intellect, between wished-for changes and actual results, between those who think they can change human nature to make men (or rather to compel them by the force of law [or worse] to be) good, egalitarian and just and those who realize that men and women are who and what they are and society should more properly (and the free market in fact does) provide them different avenues to express their individual natures in ways that are not dangerous. As Mamet points out, the real world always wins and conservatives have to clean up the mess created by liberal do-gooders.

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.
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on August 27, 2011
David Mamet is a famous writer for the stage and movies. He says in this book that he was raised with, and kept for most of his life, the convictions of the left. He gives some credit to his rabbi for gently nudging him toward a review of these convictions, which were really prejudices. He began to read books by economist Thomas Sowell and Hayek's Road to Serfdom. Part of this revelation was, as he says, a realization that he did not live as his convictions might have suggested.

He is 63 and has been married 20 years. He was previously married with two children so he has four in all. Perhaps the responsibilities of married life and children began to affect his thinking. He hates taxes as only an entrepreneur who employs himself can do. I don't know if he has become more devout in his religion in recent years but both factors tend to turn people toward conservative ideas.

I was struck by hearing, in two different radio interviews about the book, comments about Neville Shute, a favorite author of mine. He has several sections in the book where he quotes Shute and it seems he has been influenced by reading at least Shute's autobiography, Slide Rule. Shute was a successful aeronautical engineer and writer whose books make excellent reading for engineers and conservatives.

This is an interesting book, especially for his description of those who have influenced him. He does wander a bit in describing his life and his religious feelings but this is all of a piece with the theme. Why does a man with a background that would incline him to a leftist political philosophy change his mind as he gets older ? This is a nice account of how that happens and might just influence another to do the same.
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on July 12, 2011
An excellent book from an extraordinarily intelligent converted liberal. Mamet struggled with this process and this struggle is apparent in his writing. He gives rare insights into the make-up and thinking (or non-thinking) of the liberal. Conservatives know some of this instinctively, but Mamet clarifies this personality disorder with the style of a gifted writer. Mamet admits his many years of liberalism with apologies and explains how he was part of a closed-minded herd that did not allow the consideration of conservative ideas. Liberals will hate the book and conservatives will find greater understanding. I recommend this book highly, especially to any liberal brave enough to claim an open mind.
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on August 22, 2011
David Mamet's THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE provides an answer to this mystery: How could any intelligent person be a liberal after observing the results of big government programs over the last fifty years? Mamet's answer is the only one that makes sense: Liberals do not want to be banished from the elite club that sets them apart from the yahoos and boors who espouse small government, lower taxes, and individual freedom. In spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, liberals believe bigger government, more programs, and higher taxes are the solution to everything.
Mamet provides ample proof that government is harmful, and bigger government is deadly. Conservatism/Capitalism works; Liberalism/Socialism does not. Government harms those it pretends to help in the name of social justice or fairness. No serious person can look at the evidence and believe the government is better at allocating resources than the free market. Yet this is what liberals believe.

David Mamet is brilliant. No one writes like him. His words in screenplays, stage plays, and prose are aggressive. They grab you by the throat and growl: "Listen to this, dumbass. It's important."

Winston Churchill said, and I'm paraphrasing, if you are twenty and are not liberal, you don't have a heart. If you are forty and are not conservative, you don't have a brain. David Mamet's THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE confirms this, in spades.
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on September 14, 2011
I will admit to being a fan of Mr. Mamet's plays and screenplays, so I was a bit pre-disposed to liking this book on several levels.

First, he has always struck me as one America's finest modern playwrights, writing intellectually challenging comedies and dramas in a way that indeed captures the (desired) repartee of our culture in an often politically-incorrect way.

Second, I was shocked to find out he was (now) a conservative. Admittedly, I assumed that his being a well-educated, successful artist (and union member) of Jewish ancestry would, by social upbringing and community, make him not just a liberal, but an unwavering elitist to boot.

However, it was NOT this book that informed me of his conservative "awakening". Rather it was his 2008 article in "The Village Voice" (Mar 11, 2008 - "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal': An election-season essay"). Just Google it, you will find it. It is only three pages for those unwilling to read the 200+ in the book.

This book grew out of that article and the response he received to it.

After you have read the article (which is written in the same sort of "distracted" manner as this book), normally, I would not encourage anyone to "read the end of a book" first. But, with this particular tome, I would encourage my liberal friends (especially them, but actually anyone) to start with the last two (short) chapters before they start again from the beginning. Liberals will not like this book and will not be inclined to finish it, but I truly hope many will take the time to read it and honestly (honestly!) try to refute the arguments Mr. Mamet makes regarding throwing money (the government doesn't have) at problems to "help" (yet not actually help) others. I believe spoiling the ending by reading the last couple chapters first may give readers a sense of where the book is headed. (By the way, I did not do this myself, the idea only struck me after I finished the book).

However, while I enjoyed the book, I will warn readers that it is NOT an easy or fun read. Mr. Mamet has clearly been reading a lot of other works and his writing does not shy away from the complex, nor does it try to convert everything down to an eighth grade reading level. This book has a very almost "stream-of-consciousness" feel to it. Successive chapters do not necessarily follow a specific throughline, often diverting regularly in a sense of "oh, and while I am thinking about it" kind of topics.

If I could have asked for one change in the book, I would have loved to have seen Mr. Mamet present this as a dramatic debate between his prior liberal views and his newfound conservative views. Admittedly, as a master of dialogue, I would have truly enjoyed reading this as a battle of wits between the liberal and conservative. As with all Mamet scripts, I read this book wishing it was a play.

In reading the 1-star reviews to date, most seem to focus on how the book is written, which as previously stated, admittedly is not easy. And, true, he does not spend a lot of time on specifics. Instead, he cites other's work for in depth discussions of the facts he has chosen to support his arguments (the bibliography at the end is long!). This makes it easy to take potshots at the details in this book. Other reviewers seem to focus their negativity on the pages Mr. Mamet spends in several places throughout the book reflecting on his Jewish upbringing, being Jewish in America, and the state of the Jewish people throughout history around the world (including Israel and WWII). I believe these diversions were an acknowledgement or expectation by the author that he may be perceived as somehow betraying Jewish political values and his attempt to more thoroughly explain why and how he came to question them and ultimately espouse a conservative view of the role of government.

Again, this is not an easy book to read. And, I am not at all surprised by the number of reviewers admitting they stopped after only (some number) of pages. The good news for those quitters is that they will (most likely) someday be able to rent the dramatized movie version from Netflix, albeit dumbed down for their continued irritation.

I read the whole thing and it challenged me to not only consider Mr. Mamet's logic, but also research several topics separately.

I found it to be a compelling way to argue the conservative perspective for the limited role/value of government (excluding social/moral litmus test issues) in contrast to the liberal perspective.

Well done, Mr. Mamet.
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on July 13, 2011
Ever puzzle over the "why" and the "how" of the deranged, liberal thought processes? Find the answer here, from a former "default" liberal, who compared liberal dogma to reality and recognized the massive disconnect. Naturally, the left has turned on Mamet as though he is a rabid dog - as, I am sure, he knew they would. Mamet's courage of his convictions to publish this book rather than silently going along to get along in a notoriously radical industry, in which he is now a pariah, speaks volumes about his principles.

This is a must-read book. Buy it in hardback, rather than Kindle, and, after you've read it, pass it on to an "independent".
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