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The Assault on Reason

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  7,251 ratings  ·  748 reviews
New York Times bestseller: A visionary analysis of the degradation of our public sphere and its consequences for our democracy. Nobel Peace Prize winner, bestselling author, activist, and political icon, Al Gore has become one of the most respected and influential public intellectuals in America today. The Assault on Reason takes an unprecedented look at how faith in the p ...more
Hardcover, 273 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by Penguin (first published 2007)
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Daniel How about: if you want to change the world, don't copyright your books and reserve all rights. Publish them instead under a free license. Restricting …moreHow about: if you want to change the world, don't copyright your books and reserve all rights. Publish them instead under a free license. Restricting free copying with police state action limits your audience to people who already agree with you enough to buy a copy. That is, you end up preaching to your choir. To reach the people you need to reach - those who do not already agree with you - you must allow the readers who do agree with you to give away free copies of your book to their friends. Then you can harness the powerful mind-changing force of social recommendation.

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Nov 06, 2011 rated it really liked it

Al Gore Tells You What's Wrong With The US, And How To Fix It

Most Americans agree that their country's on the wrong track, but what exactly is the problem? It's easy to blame it all on Dubya - no one except a few true believers would say he's blameless. But surely there's more to it than that? Al Gore has thought deeply about the issues, and his analysis makes sense. The real strength of the US is in its system of government, but a democracy is only as strong as its citizens. If they aren't
Jun 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Really, I probably would give this book a 3.75 stars, but this system only allows whole digits in its ratings.

This book is great and terrible at the same time. The start and end of this book hit it right on the mark - there is a crisis in how information about our Democracy is being shared. It is clearly being manipulated by corporations and government entities. I whole-heartedly give two-thirds of this book a might big thumbs up.

But there are flaws. A minor one is Gore's understanding of commun
Brian Griffith
As the technologies of war give shifting advantage to the means of offense or defense, so the means of public debate have shifted to favor certain interests over others. Gore surveys the changing health of public discourse through the recent ages of print, radio, television and the internet. He gives eyewitness accounts of how these shifts have affected US government operations. As this book was written during Geoge Bush's Iraq war, Gore saw us just starting to emerge from an age of one-way comm ...more
Jan 12, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was a very easy read, and as a pretty liberal individual, my views are very well in line with Al Gore's. I know there must be hundreds of anti-Bush books published by now, but if you just read this one, you should get a pretty good sense for the numerous abuses of this current administration. Gore cites many good examples ranging from Katrina to the War on Terror to Global Warming. The entire middle of the book is dedicated to this and eventually, I just wanted to browse through it sin ...more
May 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
This didn't turn out to be the book I was expecting, but I'm quite glad I read it.

I think the biggest moment of insight for me came when I read these lines (and of course all the context around them):
"Respect for our president is important. But even more important is respect for our Constitution."
Many Republicans have denounced Bush-opposers as unpatriotic. Well now, folks, I agree it's important to respect our leaders, but NOT when they blatantly disrespect our Constitution the way the B
Aug 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, nonfiction
It's a shame that the people who should read this book never will. Al Gore's critique of the current state of media, politics and democracy in America is thoughtful and thought provoking. His writing is methodical and intelligent, if slightly repetetive and not always clearly structured. The book points out Gore's perspective that our country has fallen into a slump of disinterested, uninformed decision-making. He says one of the major factors contributing to this state is the ubiquitous nature ...more
Oct 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Gore begins by lamenting the nature of politics in the post-modern United States:

..."Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?"

American democracy is now in danger—not from any one set of ideas, but from unprecedented changes in the environment within which ideas either live and spread, or wither and die. I do not mean the physical environment; I mean what is called the public sphere, or the marketplace of ideas....

Will Byrnes
Oct 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Al makes some very good, precise points in this work. Yet, I found it less than satisfying overall. I felt that his points were good, but that he often veered away from his central premise. For example, he includes a section on how Bush has bullied the legislative branch into a passive compliance. I see this as evil, just as Gore does, but it is not based on the absence of reason. It is based on the unimpeded exercise of political power.

Al makes his core points in the Introduction;

That democra
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Actually, Al Gore's book gets 5 stars for its overall content, the timeliness and appropriateness of the subject matter, and for more than occasionally delivering masterful, eloquent, and persuasive arguments to support its thesis. But unfortunately, at the same time, it was impossible to overlook the flaw that other reviewers have also noted: the organization of the material is somewhat disjointed and unnecessarily repetitive.

Imperfections aside, this is a book that is well worth reading. Over
Steph Fisher
Jul 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
Gore confronts the Bush administration on issues of policy, ideology, and ethics in a rational manner, and lays out his argument that television and a lack of transparency in the government is causing the trend of an apathetic, cynical public. At first I was skeptical of his argument railing against TV, because it seems like such an easy thing to attack. But it is hard to deny the way television, as the primary source of most American's news and information, has contributed to a lack of civic di ...more
Elizabeth  Fuller
Jan 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
The idea that TV is rotting our brains is nothing new, but the idea that TV and the modern American system of politics by television has completely ruined our democracy is a bit more novel, and that is the main point of this book. Several other things struck me as I was reading this, however: 1. This book, which very bluntly calls out myriad ways in which the current Bush administration has disregarded, denied and dismantled our constitution and historical tradition, could never have been writte ...more
Travis Kirk
Feb 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sociology
After reading this book my sentiment is that Al Gore could be a modern day Abraham Lincoln. His work demonstrates his knowledge of the human condition both through science and scholarship. His book looks at decline reason in Society. Gore quotes many frightening prophecies from men like Thomas Jefferson to show us that the alarm bells have been ringing only we're too ignorant to know what to listen for because we (me included) have never read Jefferson or Thomas Payne. I didn't quite know of his ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
Gore presents his disagreements with his opponents as evidence of their mental inferiority. Even though his critiques of their policies are reasonable, by framing them as a question of smart (him) and dumb (them), he alienates anyone whom he might want to convince of his position. And massively annoys those who are already on his side.
Nov 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
can you imagine a world in which a man was president who knew to translate philosophers of the public sphere into readable prose--in addition to winning the Nobel??? it's enough to make my cry. ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: social-theory
I read this book to see if he was going to stand for President. It looks like he is not.

America fascinates me - the more power it has in the world the less interest it seems to pay to the consequences of that power. Democracy sounds like such a good idea, but can we honestly say the US is a democracy when - in 1998, for example - only 36.4% of adults able to vote did so? When the only merit that matters in being elected President is being a multi-millionaire? And does the people only getting to
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK SHOULD BE REQUIRED READING FOR EVERY AMERICAN! This book lays out what exactly our government is doing, and how we are letting them systematically destroy "our democracy" and turn it into a Theocracy. It lays out flat how every single report the admin. has gone on to justify our wars has been a lie, often ignoring true reports from independent sources and going with biased reports from interest groups. How they are deleting, re-classifying, and covering up documents on the war, the env ...more
Jul 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Al Gore has written a well-reasoned critique of the Administration's leadership (or lack of same). He draws on Chomsky and other progressive critics. This book is surprisingly direct for a practicing politician. Of course, the environmental parts are the hardest-hitting.
If the conservative coup in 2000 had been prevented, this country, under Gore, would have had liberty and justice for all, not just the superrich.
Mary Godwin
Aug 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Over the top! Outstanding! The best read regarding my life as a U.S. citizen I've had since reading Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat. For more from me bout this book, I refer you to "Body Electric" where I've written extensively. ...more
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Would Al Gore be Al Gore now if he had been sworn in as the President he was elected to be? I don't know, but I really like the current Gore, and I can see why many want him back in pubic office. ...more
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The book focuses mostly on the idea that reason is no longer employed to make educated and responsible decisions in life, particularly in regards to our political discourse and policy. Gore spends the first part of the book talking about technology and how we get our information. He talks about radio and television and how their one way nature in communicating information affected us not only from a psychological standpoint but from a neuroscience standpoint as well(how information from these so ...more
Feb 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
As a polemic against the worst failures, mistakes, and wrong-headed policies of the Bush administration, it's okay. As anything more than that, The Assault on Reason fails. The book can't even deliver on its basic premise -- that the politics of fear, deception, secrecy, etc. have damaged our country's ability to function as a democracy -- primarily because Gore never gets around to defining what he means by "reason." And that's really too bad, since Gore raises a number of very interesting issu ...more
Al Gore heavily criticises the George W. Bush administration for attacking Iraq based on a false premise, and trying to cover up this false premise by a systematic attack on the role of reasoned debate in policy and public life.

In this book (written in 2007) he argues that there is a trend in US policy that assault reason by ignoring facts and analysis when making police decisions. He argues that the only way on restoring this is in creating a “marketplace of ideas”, where in the public realm it
Mikey B.
Nov 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book has a somewhat meandering style – in no way is it as powerful as his documentary film (An Inconvenient Truth) on climate change.

Gore is evocative when focusing on the gross ineptitudes of the Bush administration. He is less forceful when discussing the effects of television and the possible future effects of the internet. I also found his constant juggling of historical anecdotes of the past – whether it be the George Washington era or Greek philosophers to be irritating.

Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If I had read before the holiday this year my whole Republican family would have gotten a copy for Christmas. It´s a book you have to love and hate. Gore is the man, and we will lament his loss and praise his sense, but we are made to feel a little stupid for these last 8 years.

Just picturing Bush sending back the CIA report telling them to make a connection to Iraq after they already said there was no connection never will quite match his innocent/child-like expressions and poor locution. Perha
Dave B.
Nov 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book is like a single man crying in the wilderness. Al Gore does an excellent job of explaining the concept of manufacturing consent, fear politics and group thing intellectual ignorance. This book should be a classic. It explains major concepts like; the democratic process, the decline of reason and rationalization based on a shift in media from text to TV and the impact of global environmental change. My only negative point is the fact that if spends way to much time explaining Bush’s war ...more
Andrea Hagen-Arndt
Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read in an election year. Gore outlines how television, a cool medium, has reduced political discourse to sounds bites. He pleads to a return to reasoned discourse, perhaps through the internet and blogs. The analysis is outstanding and disturbing. His solutions are not fully formed. Is there a way out of being observers back into being participants. He's doing a good job of it himself. ...more
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, non-fiction
This book is full of logic and interesting points that made it a great read. If your interested in a look within the way government works, it's flaws, and big mistakes, this is the book for you. I really enjoyed this. ...more
Joe Henry
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
In this book, AG has pulled together, supported, and articulated a thesis that resonates with thoughts, worries, and concerns I have been having for years now. That is, watching the elections and politics of the last decade, being somewhat aware of the thrusts and “rhetoric” of right-wing talk shows, and seeing the garbage that floats around the internet, it strikes me that critical thinking is at an alarmingly low ebb in our country. One of the central theses of the book is that our democracy b ...more
So, having finished this book, I kind of feel like I was reading two different books. Unfortunately, the first book makes up the portion where Gore tells us what the book is about, and the second one is the bulk of the text.

On the one hand, the book claims to discuss the degradation of the use of reason in the public discourse. This is a very interesting topic that I would love to have learned about in depth. Unfortunately, it only makes up the first and last chapters.

On the other hand, the bulk
May 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
What a disappointment. I was expecting the same well articulated data driven positions from Gore that I have read from Clinton, but that is not at all what I got. Unfortunately, this is just your standard biased political soapbox with its usual contradictions within.

He criticizes television since the barrier of entry is so high, but then praises the nostalgic days of the printing presses (as if those were easy to buy), and his entire point could have just been summed up with the already well kn
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Albert Arnold "Al" Gore, Jr. was the forty-fifth Vice President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Gore also served in the U. S. House of Representatives (1977–85) and the U. S. Senate (1985–93), representing Tennessee. Gore was the Democratic nominee for president in the 2000 election, ultimately losing to the Republican candidate George W. Bush in spite ...more

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