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Tears of a Clown: Glenn Beck and the Tea Bagging of America

3.27 of 5 stars 3.27  ·  rating details  ·  318 ratings  ·  53 reviews
Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank takes a fair and balanced look at the unsettling rise of the silly Fox News host Glenn Beck.

Thomas Jefferson famously wrote that “the tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” In America in 2010, Glenn Beck provides the very refreshment Jefferson had in min
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Hardcover, 261 pages
Published October 5th 2010 by Doubleday (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 690)
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Jane Dugger
This is my second attempt to write this review. The first one was deleted because my HTML linking skills stink. Here goes round deux.

I concur with a fellow reader: this book could have been so much more. (Let me state for the record: I am not a fan of Glenn Beck. He is an entertainer.) The author heavily quotes Beck and unfortunately doesn't provide a lot of analysis.

Three things bothered me most. One - the author does not cite any of the quotes. Not even dates from which broadcasts the quotes
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Hailey Burns
I can safely say that this book was incredibly alarming. I didn't know much about Glenn Beck before reading it other than the occasional clip of his rants, but this book showed me that Beck's horrible political/entertainment antics have a huge following and a lot of power. The book was stock full of quotes from Beck, but it was unfortunately lacking in any in-depth analysis about the impact of Beck on the public's political views. Milbank clearly didn't agree with Beck and found him to be hypocr ...more
Mary
Nov 05, 2010 Mary rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: adult
I didn't have to read this book to discover that Glenn Beck is a boob. I've known that for awhile. But I just had to see what the author had to say about him. This should be required reading for all of the people who listen to him on radio or watch him on Fox "News." What a freaking charlatan! The funny thing is, most of the damning evidence that this guy is a nutjob doesn't come from any hard-hitting investigative reporting. It just comes right from the horse's mouth. To use one of Beck's tacti ...more
Pat
I laughed throughout Dana Milbank's book, Homo Politicus, and expected the same humor in this book. Alas,this book leaves the reader sad and angry that such antics can affect millions of listeners and viewers. Of those of Beck's targets I quote Albert Einstein who said, "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
Mark
Musings of a drug addled brain as reported by Washington Post columnist. How any sane person could believe the fictions and distortions put out by Beck is beyong human comprehension. As Beck would say "I am just saying I think Beck is stupid. I am not saying he is I am just saying."
Kate
Yes, it is an expanded magazine article, but that's no problem for me since I got it from the library. I think it's a good way to familiarize yourself with Beck's lunacy without having to listen to his voice or see his face. It's pretty scary stuff.
Brad
Supposed to be a pretty thorough rebuking of the farce that is Glenn Beck. Hopefully it follows through on that promise.

Update: this book did not disappoint. Just further proof of the fraud that is Glenn Beck.
J.
A useful book to argue against Glen Beck, if a rational argument with him could be possible.

In this book the author outs Glen Beck as an entertainer per excellence, but nothing more than that. He is depicted as a hate monger, often comparing political enemies to communists, Lao-ists, Marxists, or Hitler. Political enemies of Glen Beck are those who hold views to the left of his very extreme right-wing, delusional, corporatist, jingoist, and super-nationalist views. He contradicts himself quite o
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Robert
A quick, entertaining glance at the phenomenon that is Glenn Beck, this book is more a collection of the more outrageous of his quotes than an attempt at serious biography. While perhaps valuable for anyone who want to become familiar with Beck's "thought world" but who is unable to watch more than a few minutes of his Fox News program before the bile rises to unbearable levels or the head becomes dizzy trying to follow the logic, it provides little information about Beck himself, giving only a ...more
Nelda
I picked this up as an e-book from the library to test my Nook transfer skills. I wasn't REALLY planning to read it because 1) I can't stand to even hear Glenn Beck's name without becoming nauseous and 2) my Nook up til now didn't transfer Digital Editions books well. But it transferred and, lacking anything better to do at 2 AM on a sleepless night, I read the thing. Eh. I WISH I could add an ringing endorsement...anything to bring down this fool would be welcome by me. Unfortunately, this book ...more
Travis
After failing to complete my twelve book reading goal for 2010 I lowered it to ten for 2011. Reading No Logo, although faster than I original thought, took up a big chunk of my reading time and already put me behind for this years reading goal. So after No Logo, In Captivity and a few other comics I knew I had to knock out an easy layup of a book. And that's where Dana Milbank's Tears of a Clown comes in. In the interest of full disclosure I'm not a Glenn Beck fan but on the same note I also wat ...more
Louis
Relying on Jon Stewart-esque method of letting quotes speak for themselves, Dana Milbank provides a biting, yet intriguing profile of Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck is defies simple categorization: political commentator, activist, entertainer, etc. Through a combination of fear and outright conspiracy theories, he has clearly found a substantial following. Is Beck merely a showman or does he actually believe his own strange and powerful rantings? The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Whatever ...more
Don S.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Red
This could have been so much more than it was. Heavy on qutations, light on analysis, it would've made a better article for the New Yorker or Vanity Fair. Also, I had been hoping that Milbank would take the time to read Beck's (undoubtedly hideous) writing and report back to me. No such luck. It seems like a major insight into the Beck worldview was overlooked, since the man's written 5 or 6 books of his own. Still, I can't blame Milbank. I flipped through Arguing with Idiots. Even at a glance, ...more
Krista
Let me start by saying that I have never watched Beck's show. I knew he was controversial and a little nuts, but the main reason I never watched is because he generally annoyed me. After reading this book, I'm inclined to believe that Beck could very well be a paranoid schizophrenic. The thought that anyone in this country actually believes and adheres to the lies, mistaken facts is absolutely frightening. I knew that America was full of stupid and ignorant people, but I didn't think there were ...more
Tija
Slick and entertaining. Also, given its subject matter, totally terrifying. Glenn is no idiot, but he certainly isn't working for the good of people. Many people complain that the book does not have enough analysis but I actually think it was quite smart just to let Glenn's words (which there are a lot of) speak for themselves, and the comments that the author does have are totally spot-on. The information given about Glenn's history is interesting and provides important perspective on the caree ...more
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
Glenn Beck is a dangerous man not just because of the drivel he spouts and the lies of hate he spreads - but because he irresponsible towards what effect these words can have. So many Americans seem to be just vessels to be filled. Many seems to think he is telling the truth - because he appears on a "news" channel.

This book was an interesting essay on Beck's evolution and methods. Written by an actual journalist (a writer from the respected Washington Post), I really enjoyed it.

Beck reminds me
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Elizabeth Sulzby
Important but slim and readable book. I learned three very important things: There are religious apocolyptic ties to phrases that Glen Beck uses that communicate to his like minded readers. Second, his actual "base" is a very small percentage f the American electorate. Third is what I drew from the above: his "televangelistic style" has convinced many people beyond his base to give some credence to his unbelievable fear mongering claims.

I usually try to read the "other side" but i haven't wante
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Bea Bolinger
Glenn Beck makes my skin crawl and now I know why. Very informitive book told almost entirely by quoting Glenn Beck himself while also pointing out his scare tatics and how often he gets his facts wrong or makes them up entirely. I need to read more books like this so I can stand up to right wing nut bags who believe in the end of days or that gays are destroying the country. Was very interested in how often Beck talks about the constitution hanging by a thread which a thinly veiled referrence t ...more
Emily
what a schmuck. (beck, not millbank.)

gave me a better idea of the origins of beck as t.v. persona and his political, thematic and linguistic tactics, but didn't quite delve into what draws people to beck's scattershot, obsessive, breathless style and content. (being breathless, obsessive scattershot types, i guess.) linking the well-researched beck litany in to a wider conversation about our political consciousness would have been made it a four-star book. the intellectual indigestion i get fro
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Kyla Denae
While this book satiated my inner snarkmeister, it didn't do a lot to actually prove the author's point. There was too much quoting from the show and not enough analysis of what Glenn Beck actually means by what he says on his show, so it's not a good book if you're wanting, you know, political analysis. I could have just watched the show and snarked my way through it, and gotten precisely the same thing out of it. However, it was satisfying for sheer amount of sass, and it did make me feel some ...more
Esme Pie
A big pet peeve of mine is a magazine article masquerading as a book and this book comes awfully close to that. Very slim book that is mostly all reportage of Glenn Beck's actions/words and very little analysis of what it all means. It felt like reading a book I could have written simply by watching hours and hours of the show and listening to the radio program. Definitely not recommended for someone trying to Beck into context.
Ryan Snyder
To any rational person, this book isn't that informative. Beck doesn't care much for facts, profits of fear, and demagogues. The first few chapters were worth the read though. Beck's story of his mother's suicide is just that; a story. Glen Beck is a Muslim, transexual, baby-eater. I'm not saying it's true. I just don't have any evidence it's not. He can find my number if he wants to call me and prove me wrong.
Daniel
I've never watched or listened to Glenn Beck. I don't watch any news network. I only get my news over the internet. Obviously I've been missing out on the Glenn Beck phenomena and after reading this book I feel disappointed. I didn't know Fox was running a comedy hour masquerading as the Glenn Beck hour.

I think I'm going to continue getting my news from the internet. It may be slightly biased but it comes with less agenda.
B
Since I can't watch or listen to the idiot, I was glad someone else, (a Wash Post commentator I enjoy reading), looked into his past and wrote, in an entertaining fashion, about some of the ridiculous, uninformed things he says and the silly stunts he pulls. It is chilling that there are people in this country that hang on his every word and that some carry out his violent wishes.
Arthur
I've enjoyed Dana on TV, and his prose is good, and his perspective quite witty. All in all it was less substantive than fluffy. I got to hear more of the paranoid rantings and self-contradictions of Glenn Beck than I might have wanted to. But I think it let me form an opinion as to whether or not he's a lunatic or a charlatan.

Not bad, perhaps too shallow a work..
Josh
Pretty good, although suffers from preaching to the choir-itis. I would've liked to have more of Milbank's commentary, although that would've gotten in the way of his mostly effective method of presenting everything in Beck's own words. Beck is, of course, either a raving lunatic or a fantastic actor, so it is handy to have proof in one thin book.
Mark
No slam on Dana Milbank, but I couldn't even find a book about this guy to be interesting or amusing. Beck is as tedious as all proselytizing windbags, as insufferable as every non-drinking alcoholics, and as idiotic as any zany morning radio DJ. I stopped reading this maybe 70 pages in. Beck is simply not worth my time.


Ted Heitz
Weak sauce. Overwhelming bias eliminates credibility. Facts are half presented to give the storyline support. Thankfully it was short or I'd be upset that it took time it didn't deserve. Skip it...there are plenty left wing pity books if you need them to justify your poor choices.
Kathleen
Picked this up at a resale shop, and felt I should know more about Glenn Beck and the hold he has over conservatives. I read it in an hour. Nothing against Mr. Milbank, but Beck is so disgusting, there is no way to write about him that I can give it more than 2 stars. Ugh.
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Dana Timothy Milbank is an American political reporter and columnist for The Washington Post.
More about Dana Milbank...
Homo Politicus: The Strange and Barbaric Tribes of the Beltway Smash Mouth: Two Years In The Gutter With Al Gore And George W. Bush -- Notes From The 2000 Campaign Trail O is for Obama: An Irreverent A-to-Z Guide to Washington and Beltway Politics Homo Politicus: The Strange and Scary Tribes that Run Our Government Homo Politicus: The Strange and Scary Tribes That Run Our Government

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