This book sounds interesting in theory, but I'm not sure about the way Jacoby is promoting it. On her appearance on The Colbert Report, she implied thThis book sounds interesting in theory, but I'm not sure about the way Jacoby is promoting it. On her appearance on The Colbert Report, she implied that young Americans are ignorant, as evidenced by the fact that, in this highly religious country, most of them cannot name the 4 gospels. Furthermore, they're against the idea of evolution because they've never read the Creation Story. I've read the Bible, including the story of Creation, but that doesn't mean I believe it/agree with it. One can read a story and still disagree with it. And even though I've read the Bible, I can't name the 4 gospels. Just because I live in a highly religious country doesn't mean I HAVE to agree with the religion, nor does it mean I have every aspect of that religion memorized.
Still, though, I'd like to give the book a chance and see if Jacoby makes any VALID points.
Indeed, she makes valid points. The book is an interesting analysis of America's growing stupidity and intellectual laziness, and why/how we let it happen. I enjoyed the book: it was a good look at when/why the country started to think that "smart" was a four-letter word and that intellectualism was a dirty thing. It made me think of how nice it would be if we could all be smarter and use sound intellectual judgement (or use our brains at all; or even have brains at all), and weren't losing ground in the world.
I do wonder, though, how Republicans/right-wingers feel about this book. Not that the book is a "Democrats are good, Republicans are bad" type of book, but when she does say that one party is "worse" or more mistaken than the other, it's usually Republicans being "worse" than Democrats (although, to be fair, she does point out Democrats'/left-wingers' issues and inferiorities often enough).
One thing I always wonder about things like this is how I would do in their studies and tests. These types of analyses always include stats about "X percent of Americans don't know ", and of course Jacoby's book has statistics about Americans' knowledge of American history, world history, geography, current affairs, foreign affairs, etc. I consider myself a moderately intelligent person, but I also know that a test can be incredibly obvious, hard, or confusing, based on how it's worded. How were the questions in these studies worded? Would *I* have known the answers to the questions about the Constitution? Would my answers about the First Amendment have been satisfactory? Or would my answers have put me in the group of "Americans who don't know anything about their country"?
Still, even if her book doesn't hit the mark 100% of the time (and there were quite a few times when I was skeptical about what she was saying), it does have good points and does a good job of tracing the history of the dumbing down of Americans....more
What a great book! A very detailed and thoughtful analysis of ... well ... how messed up the USA has become in the past few years, and how the next prWhat a great book! A very detailed and thoughtful analysis of ... well ... how messed up the USA has become in the past few years, and how the next president (now, Obama) should go about getting it back on track.
Albright makes the point quite a few times that our reputation is less than admirable nowadays, and that we have a long way to go before others will see us as a moral high-ground or savior again. As she says, "our right to lead is no longer widely accepted. We have lost moral legitimacy" (22). She also warns the president-elect that, "[g:]iven the events of the past eight years, we can hardly dictate to others what they should think, feel, and fear" (292).
This is a really wonderful book. Very well-written (nod to Albright and Woodward) and fun to read, plus extremely insightful and thought-provoking (quite unlike the American executive branch of 2001-2008).