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Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  199 ratings  ·  32 reviews
Thanks to the machinations of the right, there is no dirtier word in American politics today than "liberal." Yet public opinion polls consistently show that the majority of Americans hold liberal views on everything from health care to foreign policy. In this feisty, accessible primer, Eric Alterman sets out to restore liberalism to its rightful honored place as the politi ...more
Audio CD, 6 pages
Published March 13th 2008 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 2008)
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Jun 19, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Something got garbled between the writing of this book and the selection of the title. It's far less about the moral underpinnings of liberalism and more a catalog of conservative hypocrisy. Which is fine if that's what you're looking for, but I've read enough of that already. If you're looking for a coherent explanation of liberalism, I recommend Being Right Is Not Enough by Paul Waldman. I've also got The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman on my list. ...more
The first half of this book was really good - great history of the rise of the liberal and conservative movements, a good perspective on the Bush years (this was published in 2008). So much so, that I was thinking the title and cartoonish cover did a disservice to the book. But then he got into some of the more social issues, and I started to get really annoyed. I had to cut him a bit of slack on the gay-marriage stuff - it was 2008, and marriage equality was just getting started. Ok. But aborti ...more
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are liberal, or even just think you are you MUST read it. This book changed my view of the world and let me hear the call of war. For far too long we liberals stood in the shadows ashamed of our name, no more. The conservatives must prepare to come and do battle, and learn once again that we will not stand down and allow them to trample upon our views.
May 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting an exploration of ideology and philosophy, instead it's an annoying sermon on the ills of the Republicans and a bunch of mansplaining about the problems of the pro-choice movement and whiny feminists and civil rights activists not towing the line exclusively for the Democrats.

Screw you. Seriously.
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
It was very thorough, for better or worse, though at the length, that should be a given.

It took me a while to read this book and by the end I forgot what some of the chapters were about. It didn't help that while reading these chapters, I usually felt like the chapter title could be for a different topic or the text could have had a different question. I sometimes liked how he just had moments of hypocrisy just plopped on the table for everyone, but I don't really think that's the best rhetoric
Petty Lisbon
This was a pretty good book covering a wide range of topics. At a decade old, some of it is a little dated with references to names that are sometimes forgotten now. Sometimes it's a little heavy on quotes instead of analysis. I think it's a little self congratulatory but looking at when it was published, it makes sense for why he thinks American liberalism is okay.
W Walters
As a liberal, I was both pleased and offended by this book. Pleased because Alterman understood exactly what he was talking about; offended because he used sarcasm to try to make his point. Alterman has made a career of taking the liberal fight to the right, even as a columnist for The Daily Beast, but the level of sarcasm in this book almost seems to demonstrate an inability to separate opposing statements from the truth. It is impossible for the casual reader to take the book seriously, and th ...more
Mar 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Republicans have devoted a lot of resources to the smearing of liberals, but Eric Alterman is not going to let them get away with it. He has a mission to correct misconceptions spewed by conservatives and regurgitated by mainstream media. His well-researched "Handbook for Post-Bush America" is chock-full of the staggering statistics, rational reasoning, and liberal principles that are under-represented – and sometimes completely absent – in the so-called "liberal media." This history of liberali ...more
Sep 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In between dumping water out of my basement into a sink (where it traveled through the sump pump, out into the yard and back into my basement), I devoured Alterman's post-Bush seismic map defending liberalism and arguing that it represents the views of Americans and it can save the day yet.

What I like most about Alterman is that he doesn't pretend liberals are perfect--we wouldn't be liberals if we did--but what I like even more are the facts he trots out to prove his points. Pew Research studi
Oct 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at the library. So far the author has discussed liberalism not as a strictly left-side political ideology, but as the foundation of our country (Jefferson, Madison, etc). It is supposed to be about being open to new ideas, creating a strong democracy for everyone, and creating policies that support individual opportunity while protecting minority interests. But liberalism has been demonized since the 70's by the media and far-right fundamentalism. Perhaps we are on the cusp of c ...more
Jessica Jeffers
This book was kind of a disappointment. I very much enjoyed the first part, in which Alterman outlines what it has meant to be a liberal historically and what it means today. However, the second part, in which Alterman is supposed to defend liberalism against the stereotypes perpetuated by conservatives in recent years, is nothing more than a list of ways that the Bush administration has been hypocritical. So far, it has given me nothing new and feels like he's stooping to the same level of accu ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alterman does a fine job of reclaiming liberalism as a legitimate political philosophy while debunking the vicious smears of conservatives, many of which are parrotted by the mainstream media. Particularly interesting is the revelation that most Americans hold liberal views on many issues, though they would not identify themselves as liberals. It's a sad truth, however, that Alterman will mostly be preaching to the choir. I doubt this book will be read by many conservatives or, more importantly, ...more
Mar 30, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing! Eric Alterman wrote what he apparently thought was a liberal answer to the likes of Rush Limbaugh. First of all, that defeats the liberal (even as opposed to formally Liberal or Progressive) thought processes. I didn't much care for Bush, but this book was relatively pointless and about as far from objective as books were at that time.

Next, having not been able to finish a Limbaugh book (I tried once), I feel like the time spent here was wasted on pettiness. Writing style is
Apr 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though much of what is in this book appeared has appeared in Alterman's columns, it's a good experience to have it all in one place. His historical perspecptive helps put the current scene in context.

An update: I get angry when I read this book because of the Alerman's documentation of the right wing dirty tricks that have distorted what passes for public discourse in this country. I'm almost finished with the book, but I can read only a little at a time and definitely not before I go to be
Useful compilation of refutations to common anti-liberal arguments. I'd definitely recommend it to either someone who spends a lot of time arguing with conservatives about American politics, or someone who's disgusted with the current conservative regime but isn't sure whether or not they'd be comfortable supporting a liberal.
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strikingly honest and unapologetic look at American liberalism. Alterman's writing style isn't the best, and he drifts into Bush-bashing territory way too much, but the amount of scholarly research in this book is something to be admired. I highly recommend this book to any liberal, as well as to any conservative who can handle it.
Jun 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely informative; it dispels the myth of "liberal" being such a bad thing. The author gets back to the true meaning of "liberal" & how the liberals of today seemed to have forgotten what a liberal is. ...more
Mar 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Okay, so I tried to listen to this on tape. It had some interesting points but grew old rather quickly. I quit after 15 electronic chapters.
Apr 01, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, own
Another book I bought with my birthday gift card that I'm hoping will be a balm to my battered liberal soul.
Jun 24, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to read this, but couldn't get thru the first 50 pages.
Very interesting, and gratifying to read after what I've3 seen in this election year, with obama selling out to the centrists and all the talk of "bi-partisanship".
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, abandoned
I gave up on this one. You either agree with the message or you don't but either way the writing isn't engaging enough to make me want to keep reading
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A vigorous defense of liberalism and a rallying cry for any liberal who wants to see a bright future for this nation.
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished! Sorry Joe, I forgot to send it along with Papa!
It sure is tough being a liberal!
Feb 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
this one was a bit dry for my taste - I like Alterman's writing, but, he seemed to lose interest after leaving his MSNBC blog
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
Book was 2008 looking backward. We need 2010 looking forward. The title is misleading. It was more about what the right thinks than what the left should do.
Jon Hughes
Helpful to see a political liberal explain his own position. I appreciated his critique of his own ideology and appreciated his call for grounding liberal thought in Scripture.
A very insightful book.
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't come across anything I haven't known before.
Mar 30, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible. Instead of putting a philosophic reason for being a liberal, it set up straw man arguments about what conservatives believed and refuted those bogus arguments with facts cherry picked to support their agenda.

If you are looking for a book to challenge your thinking as a conservative, this isn't it - it will only help you to believe that the left has no idea what conservatives think.

If you're a liberal looking to reinforce your own biases without challenging anything, this is the book
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Eric Alterman is a CUNY Distinguished Professor of English and Journalism, a media columnist for the Nation, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, and the author of seven books, including the national bestsellers What Liberal Media? and The Book on Bush. He lives in New York City.

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