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When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden: What the Government Should Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism Hardcover – November 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Anybody who has seen Maher's canceled show Politically Incorrect knows that his driving animus is the long shadow cast by the Greatest Generation during WWII, and that the war on terror has provided him with ample opportunity to elaborate on our inability to measure up-one such opportunity being this entertaining, heavily illustrated and graphically kinetic volume. Nonpartisan to a fault, Maher has a knack for leavening difficult issues with an expertly executed punch line. The government has "abdicated the role of helping citizens make connections in time of war," he says; in reaction, Maher includes dozens of WWII-style posters that he feels the government "should be making and plastering everywhere." It's no challenge to poke holes in his militant outlook, but books like this don't succeed by covering all the bases. There isn't a position Maher isn't willing to oversimplify drastically, but his logic is often compelling, as when he rails against our low taxes, our low rate of foreign aid or our addiction to oil. And he can't stand the token gesture, a prime example being our insufficiently revamped airport security. But it's easy to confuse Maher's urgency with outright alarmism, typified by the mushroom clouds he invokes, and he neglects to connect his rants about, say, the war on drugs to his argument. Maher's palpable sincerity, however, is refreshing in an age dominated by irony and cynicism.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-At first glance, the format of this volume might fool readers into thinking that they are looking at a comedic picture book. The cover, a take-off on a World War II U.S. propaganda poster, shows Maher driving along with a ghostly Osama bin Laden. The book tells readers that to waste gasoline (read oil) by driving alone in an SUV is to help the enemy. The author feels that not enough has been done to prevent further catastrophic terrorist attacks and contends that the government involved the public during World War II by making the best use of propaganda. He argues that Americans have been led to believe that the current war can best be fought if we go about business as usual, pay less in taxes, and continue to buy consumer goods, even if they tie us to regimes in the Middle East known to be financing terror. This book is filled with controversial and perhaps politically incorrect statements, and each essay is likely to provoke a good argument; posters designed for this title illustrate the author's thesis. For example, one depicts SUVs ("Selfish Use Vehicles") adorned with American flags and shows his impatience with people who, after September 11, turned their vehicles into "traveling country fairs." Teens should be taken with this opportunity to validate their opinions or to reevaluate their life choices. The sexually explicit and irreverent language will be familiar to most high school students.
Don Guerriero, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Maher tells it like it is--painfully so for a lot of people--and nowhere does his unbiased take hit home more forcefully than when confronting the whole post 9/11 America.
The context of the book is fascinating--many of the chapters are based on WWII U.S. propaganda posters urging citizens to conserve, be alert and contribute to the war effort. Amazingly, most of them are just as appropriate today, in 2003. Sadly, as Maher points out, Americans today aren't exactly as motivated to actually make the sacrifices necessary to win the war.
And of course, there's a few laughs to be had--although this book is pretty straightforward, not to be considered the usual fare by say, George Carlin or even Michael Moore. It is not a comedy book, but rather a brilliant step back and examination of where we're REALLY at, post-9/11.
Absolutely recommended. The only caveat is that this book is SHORT--all said, it's probably about 60 actual pages (although it's coffee table sized). I finished it in two sittings. Keep that in mind if you can get it used/in paperback.
Bottom line: if you want to pack ammo for the barroom/office/coffee shop debates about America's post 9/11 direction, this is your bible.
Though the essays are generally smart, funny and incisive, they're too short, scattershot, and the posters get considerably less inspired as the book goes on. There's simply not enough written material: it can be read easily in an evening. One gets the feeling that if Maher had the drive, he could be a modern-day Voltaire. Instead the essays, pungent and entertaining as they are, just scratch the surface of his topics and are at best loosely held together by the theme of sacrifice in a new world - something which he seems to go a bit overboard with, even if you agree with him on oil and diamonds.
Hopefully, he'll find the inspiration someday to settle down and write a real "serious" 300-pager. Minus the pictures.
Whether you love him or hate him, I highly encourage you to get this very provacative book. The art is excellent, as is Bill's commentary and humor.
Alas, it will almost certainly not make people who fly flags on SUVs or buy diamonds for their girlfriends think any differently... they just don't care.
Keep it up Bill...
Most recent customer reviews
Altho I don't agree with a few of his points, this is still a good read/listen.