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What Would Jefferson Do? Hardcover – July 27, 2004

4.0 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A riveting and absolutely essential book for reflecting upon and awakening to the real meaning of America and the hope it still offers to the world.” —Jacob Needleman, author of The American Soul

“In this season of witches, with the forces of unreason evidently in command, it is a joy to rediscover just how great an ally we, the people, have in Thomas Jefferson. His ideals, we find, are ours, now more than ever; and so all true patriots should turn to him again for solace, guidance, and inspiration. Kudos to Thom Hartmann for this wise and necessary book.” —Mark Crispin Miller, author of Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney's New World Order

“Thom Hartmann offers us an eye-opening view of how democracy is threatened. America needs this book now more than ever before.” —Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy

From the Trade Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

When the Founding Fathers were searching for the best and fairest form of government, they studied the models of Athenian democracy, the Roman republic, and the Iroquois Confederacy and created what is now called a modern liberal democracy. Today, 81 nations can be described as fully democratic. Yet in numerous countries around the world democracy has failed or is tottering, and in the United States its principles are increasingly under siege from corporate and other forces. Americans pride themselves on their democracy, but today's legislative process often no longer reflects the vision of the Founders.

In What Would Jefferson Do?, Thom Hartmann shows why democracy is not an aberration in human history but the oldest, most resilient, and most universal form of government, with roots in nature itself. He traces in particular the history of democracy in the United States, identifies the most prevalent myths about it, and offers an inspiring yet realistic plan for transforming the political landscape and reviving Jefferson's dream before it is too late.

"Hartmann has done it again. Passionately written and filled with original historical research, What Would Jefferson Do? offers important insights into the meaning and nature of democracy and what we must do to counter the warlords, theocrats, and corporate aristocrats who now place it at risk."--David C. Korten, author of When Corporations Rule the World and The Post-Corporate World

"A riveting and absolutely essential book for anyone who wishes to reflect upon and awaken to the real meaning of America and the hope it still offers to the world."--Jacob Needleman, author of The American Soul:Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders

"A call to vigilance and action--to awaken the better angels of our democratic spirit and wrest our planet away from the corporate overlords. Infused with an optimistic spirit, What Would Jefferson Do? is a true 'patriot act' in the tradition of Thomas Paine."--Chuck Collins, United for Fair Economy, and coauthor of Wealth and Our Commonwealth

"Thom Hartmann looks at the big picture and asks the hard questions. He's an important voice for reclaiming our democracy."--Paul Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen

"Thom Hartmann calls on us to take control of the helm and guide our nation back to its base of 'We the people.' Read this book for its historic grounding; heed his SOS for our future well-being."--Medea Benjamin, cofounder of Global Exchange and Codepink:Women for Peace

"Thom Hartmann offers us an eye-opening view of how democracy is threatened. America needs this book now more than ever before."--Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; First Edition edition (July 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400052084
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400052080
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #707,689 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William Hare on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
When I was first becoming politically active and living in Southern California, which was then an exciting if erratic "57 varieties" political stomping ground, I curiously visited the leading right wing bookstore in the area, located in Hollywood behind the insurance office of the man who ran it fervently with his wife. I often wondered how he could make any money in the insurance office due to its neglect in favor of concentrating on the activist bookstore.

There was a sign that always remained, while others, often posters concerning political campaigns that came and went, was one that read:

"If Jefferson and Franklin were living today they would be regular customers of this bookstore."

The right for years has sought to co-opt the Founding Fathers, particularly the great spokesman for liberty who penned America's Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson, as one of their own. If a liberal dared to quote Jefferson, a right-winger would smirk and say, "Have you ever read Jefferson? You liberals want big government. Jefferson stood for limited government. He wanted to extend individual liberty, not create a gigantic bureaucracy like you people do."

Thom Hartmann has done an adroit job of puncturing this right wing myth in his thoughtful and energetically researched work, "What Would Jefferson Have Done?" The principle launching point that draws the distinction between what the right has long proclaimed and the reality of Jefferson's beliefs is the period and circumstances under which Jefferson and the Founding Fathers who synergized with him, towering giants such as Benjamin Franklin and James Madison, lived and functioned.
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Format: Hardcover
Yes, this is a book about government, about history. Yet over and over again, I felt my heart touched, and on a few occassions, tears welling in my eyes. Thom Hartmann has, by a strange accident of fate, become an extraordinary Jefferson scholar. When you combine the visionary mind of Rennaisance man Thom Hartmann with the revolutionary genius of an earlier Tom-- Thomas Jefferson, you get a book that wakes you up and gets you thinking about what you can do, what the nation and the world need to do to stop the founders of America from turning in their graves and stop the nation's turn toward decreased rights, liberties and freedom.

If you read political books, this is one you don't want to miss. Hartmann may not be as recognizable a name as some, but his ideas stand at least as tall, with the added strength of a unique vision that spans the centuries past and the centuries to come. This is a book that will become a classic people will read 50, even 100 years from now.

Hartmann is also one of the smartest, most informed talk show hosts in America today. He's been ranked among the top 100 in the business. His show can be called liberal, progressive, yet it is civil without nastiness. He says it is aimed at the radical middle.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a breath of fresh air in a cynical, ill-informed country. It renewed my absolute awe of the Founders -- what they were up against, the debates they had, the inevitable compromises, and the incredible, living document they came up with -- our Constitution. It makes me feel somewhat ashamed at how lazy and complacent the American electorate has become. Are we even up to the task of defending American democrary? Do people even know what it is? Or what it has become?

This book should be required reading for every citizen. We have a lot of work ahead if we are to regain our democracy. Even for a die-hard idealist, I did find some of his prescriptions to be overly optimistic. But vision is something we need right now!
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Format: Hardcover
I have got to believe Thomas Jefferson would be the first to laugh at the foreword he supposedly wrote for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction". Our third President purportedly asserts "You moderns have a tendency to worship at the altar of the Fathers," but "he" ends with a vital description of the Constitution as "a living document based on principles that transcended the times we lived in...a blueprint for a system to endure." Well put, as Jefferson was a true Renaissance man, a constant inventor and unequivocally a founding father in the history of democracy in this country. His ideal for the way this country should be run is as relevant now as it was back then, and I'm so glad Thom Hartmann's comprehensive and eminently readable book vouches for that fact in lucid terms. At a time when the Bush administration flagrantly disregards the Constitution and the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, Hartmann reminds us that we were founded on noble and then innovative principles that once protected the civil rights of its citizenry.

More than coincidentally, Hartmann focuses on why we so clearly need to separate church and state and the reasons why Jefferson was so passionate about this issue from witnessing the ramifications of a tyrannical clergy in England. In his day, there was a powerful movement to make the Ten Commandments the basis of American law, but Jefferson recognized how easily the alliance between church and state in England has led to unprecedented fraud among the judges who were appointed to uphold it. Clearly, the conservative right has been amassing power in more subtle ways today but to the same inevitable conclusions.
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