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Book Review of: Thank You, President Bush
We highly recommend Thank You, President Bush, by Aman Verjee, et al.
of Thank You, President Bush, an outstanding collection of essays |
Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, private citizen.
This collection of 24 essays is loaded with facts, figures, analysis, and history. Though this book came out before the 2004 election, I did not read or review it until after that election.
This book is not an attack on liberals, it's not Bush marketing material, it's not groveling Bush worship, it's not fluff, and it's not hysterical. It's also not the product of the "mainstream media," who are so out of touch with the rest of America that most of us now tune them out (e.g., television viewership by males 18 to 24 is nearly zero and it's dropping for all other viewership groups as well).
Why should you read this book if you hate Bush? Because the reasons (I have heard) for hating Bush are based on misinformation, misunderstanding, and misquotations. They just don't hold up under honest analysis. It doesn't matter to me if you hate Bush. It does matter to me if you hate him based on false reasons. Now, your group conformity (feel free to look that phrase up) may be at work and the facts won't change your opinion. But, at least expose yourself to them.
For example, we heard from Ted Kennedy about the President's "reckless" economic policies, in reference to Bush's aggressive tax cuts. Ted Kennedy's own brother, JFK, implemented aggressive tax cuts. And the result was a sustained economic boom (plus the Beatles moved to the USA--yes!). Read the book, and you'll understand why this worked then, why it worked under Reagan, and why it's working now. And so it goes with topic after topic. If you are going to criticize Bush, at least don't be as obtuse about it as Teddy Kennedy is. For him, of all people, to say that is beyond absurd.
Why should you read this book if you are already a Bush supporter? Because you need to be an informed Bush supporter. If you support Bush because of group conformity, you are supporting him for the wrong reasons. His accomplishments are amazing, and you should support him because you understand what those accomplishments are and why they are so significant.
This book does have some bias. Several of the contributors may be thought of as "right wing" folks. Their main characteristic that Libertarians would object to is they want to ban abortion. But not all of the contributors share this philosophy. The book takes viewpoints from people of widely varying backgrounds and viewpoints. Some are very academic, and will give you a solid analysis of economics, complete with numbers and tables. Others talk about the President's character. Others are foreign policy experts, and they talk about that. Keep in mind that this is not a collection of propaganda from "Bushies." The experts who support Bush do so for reasons they explain in their essays.
And, of course, you'd expect some bias in the heartwarming introduction by Jeb Bush. That introduction, however, stays within the constraints of what you might expect one brother to say about another. Jeb Bush speaks as a brother, not as a person pretending to be an unbiased expert.
While I have used the word "bias" to describe some of the viewpoints, let me make it clear that I could not find one instance of misrepresentation. Honesty is an over-riding characteristic of this book. It presents viewpoints of experts, backed by verifiable facts and figures rather than scare tactics and speculation. Granted, these viewpoints are all from one side--there is not a "point - counterpoint" tone to this book. With all the Bush-bashing books in circulation, that just wasn't necessary. This book seeks to balance the imbalance by providing "the other side" to the shrill--and usually baseless--criticisms made by other books.
The book does a good job of staying out of the brainwashing business. It's a collection of essays produced not for this book, but for other purposes. The essays are merely assembled without any attempt to "interpret them" to the reader. You can thus read the part "between the ends" and draw your own conclusions.
The ends I speak of are the introduction and the concluding chapter (plus the publisher's note). The author and publisher do make a point of summing up the presented material saying what they think it all means. You should read the essays and analysis in this book before saying whether you agree or disagree.
Being torn between keeping this impressive book as a reference and passing it along to others as a beacon of truth in our current haze of disinformation, I've decided I'll have to buy a second copy. That's what I hate about well-researched books--you can't get by with just one copy.
About these reviews
You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?
I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?
And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.
This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.
My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.
A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.
About your reviewer
About reading style
No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.
Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.