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That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing
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That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right Wing

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  94 ratings  ·  23 reviews
This book is essential reading for anyone seeking the accurate historical background to many of the today's hot-button political debates. In 2011, Glenn Beck released a "modern translation" of the Federalist Papers and a new biography of George Washington. In the same year, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, published a book in which he argued that the Founding Fathers int ...more
Paperback, 253 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Prometheus Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Michael Austin
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: wrote
I am a really bad source for information on this book, being the author and all. But I will try to suspend my financial interest in its success (very limited, as it turns out) and try to be an objective reviewer: I laughed, I cried, I found myself wanting more and hoping that Johnny Depp will agree to play a non-sequiter (or maybe even a confirmation bias) in the movie. You should definitely buy two copies of this book, one to loan to friends and one to keep at home because your friends will pro ...more
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it

This was an excellent book to read right after I read the Tea Party Patriots book. This book showed the Tea Party and the far rights play book clear as day and I was a bit embarrassed for how much weight I had given parts of the TPP book because of some of the tactics I fell for. And while this book does choose to focus mostly on the right, it is more then willing to take shots from time to time at the left too.

The book has 3 major ideas that play throughout:

1. The idea that people of today can
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, politics
Can you win a political argument today by citing the Founding Fathers as a way to shut down dialogue? Well, many people attempt to do this. However, if you take the time to read the original documents, you will learn that politicians of the late 18th century, early 19th century did not hold one opinion on every issue of national importance. No, they wrestled over their ideas before moving forward into action. All you have to do to see this complexity is to actually read primary texts from this e ...more
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
That's Not What They Meant! is the necessary and proper answer to the legions of far-right political personalities that go beyond historical inaccuracy to subvert and distort the legacy of the Founding Fathers. Glenn Beck, Marc Levin, Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity (and by extension, their several co-writers and contributors) have twisted the words of the Founders for far too long, and Michael Austin calls them out in this succinct rebuttal.
AS the author acknowledges, cherry-pickin
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: law, history
That’s Not What They Meant! Reclaiming the Founding Fathers From America's Right Wing by Michael Austin

"That’s Not What They Meant!" is a very solid book that makes light of the extreme positions held by a faction of conservatives. It's a book that exposes those who distort America's Founding history in order to support a very narrow political agenda. Academician and author Michael Austin a self-proclaimed moderate takes the reader on a historical journey that focuses on debunking the myth that
G. Branden
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book explores the mythologization and homogenization of the U.S. Founders, and illustrates the popular use of proof-texting on their writings by contemporary political movements in the U.S.--predominantly by conservatives.

The author indulges in some hippie-punching, presumably in an attempt to come off as balanced, but this is a foolish choice since no amount of hippie-punching will, to those who most need to hear him, make acceptable his thesis--namely, that the Founders were not men of un
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I have relished books that are charged with the energy of the Founding Fathers and their ideals. This book is charged with energy and gave me a greater appreciation of the Founding Fathers and the compromises reached by these diverse men. I do not think that I have cognitive dissonance when it comes to politics as I am willing to listen to varied points of view. However, I will often shut down if a person seems to be "building straw men" or just using propoganda whether the person is on the Left ...more
Bill Armstrong
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent debunking of the intentional or unintentional attempt by such far right ideologues as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, and Newt Gingrich to co-opt the Founding Fathers for their own political agendas. This is not liberal screed or harangue but a level-headed assessment of several statements by right-wing apologists concerning the supposed approval of the Founders for contemporary political stances.

This is a must-read for anyone who wants to try to understand what the real intentions of the F
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Required reading! History buffs will especially like this book as it paints the historical context for many political issues that have evolved but not gone away in the almost 250 years since the framers. It is especially helpful in presenting and helping the reader appreciate contemporary political conflicts and discussions about issues as they were in the 1700's and how each of our Founding Fathers thought about those issues. As astute citizens understand, the issues we face are anything but si ...more
Kristine Sprunger
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
well written, easily read and understood. and it made me think. It also made me want to go out and read the Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Amendments. Which, if you happen to be a U.S. Citizen, is something you should read.
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Loved this book! Subtitle is: Reclaiming the founding Fathers from America's right wing. The author includes selections of original writings from some of the Founding Fathers. Well written, explains historical setting well.
Did not finish, but would pick it up again.
Dec 12, 2012 added it
I don't follow politics closely, and I might not have read this book if Austin's wife weren't a friend of mine. I would categorize it as a fair assessment of misrepresentations of the beliefs of the Founding Fathers. I know several people who I think should read it.
Jan 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone should read it.
Will read this again. Amazing!
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a hella good time. I've not seen any other books going after this topic, and it's about time someone did.
Feb 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, political
It's a great read and important whether your a tea party or a liberal. It opens your mind in a good way. Finally the TRUTH.
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An enlightening read.
James K.
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Saving America's Liberty from the Attack Founderstein Monsters

Michael Austin has done a superb job of exploding the false notions that right-wing pundits such as Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck and Mark Levin concoct to make it seem like all of America's founding fathers supported their narrow, far-right view of how our democracy should work when nothing could be further from the case. In doing so, he explores the dangers of "quote mining" that such pundits so love to employ. By grabbing just the right

David Baer
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Ideas”, says Michael Austin, “even really bad ones, deserve a serious response.” This book is a response to over-simplified and dishonest claims by right-wing commentators, who generally claim the “Founding Fathers” as the original champions of their ideas, and who portray that anyone who disagrees with their radical libertarian policies is a bad American. Austin coins the term “Founderstein”; that is, an imaginary monster composed of stitched-together parts of multiple deceased parties. The tr ...more
Robb Bridson
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't always agree with the author's political views (for one thing, I think the constitution contains some nearly fatal flaws) but the meat of this book is correcting the ahistorical views we have of the Founders and especially those pseudo-religious ones held by the far right.
The author again and again makes the point that should be shouted from the rooftops and maybe even taught in schools (wouldn't that be a shock): the Founders were a bunch of individuals who disagreed with each other a l
Jim Hudson
A very well researched book, the main thesis of which being that any claim based on the statement “the founding fathers believed..” should be immediately faced with suspicion. The founders were as diverse a group as we are today, with Federalists duking it out with anti-Federalists from the very beginning. The book includes appendices from The Federalist Papers as well as supporting arguments from opposing sides (including such luminaries as Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Yates).
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you’ve read anything about the founders, you know that they disagreed on just about everything. When pundits proclaim what the founding fathers (as a group) believed about taxes or gun control or anything(!) it’s based on wishful thinking- not on history.
Bob Conner
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, history
Michael Austin is perhaps the most fluent, most certainly the most coherent, author writing about the misinterpretations of the US Constitution. If you don't understand the Constitution before you read his works, you will afterwards.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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I am an English professor who became an administrator who dreams of being a political pundit. After eleven years teaching English and writing books like this, I accepted a position as the Provost and Academic Vice President at Newman University in Wichita, Kansas. All the while, though, I dreamed of being a talking head. Soon after moving into administration, I started to write the Founderstein Bl ...more

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