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America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  96,491 ratings  ·  1,437 reviews
Jon Stewart, host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show, and his coterie of patriots, deliver a hilarious look at American government.

American-style democracy is the world's most beloved form of government, which explains why so many other nations are eager for us to impose it on them. But what is American democracy? In America (The Book), Jon Stewart and Th

Hardcover, 228 pages
Published 2004 by Allen Lane
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Jason Koivu
Sep 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy, humor
America (The Book) is not the Daily Show, but it's damn close.

This is one of those cases where it might seem like a good idea to listen to the audiobook and hear the actors' deliveries in order to mimic the feeling of watching the tv show as much as possible. However, then you'd miss out on the high school textbook mock-up layout and that's missing half the point.

A Citizen's Guid to Democracy Inaction is modeled after a civics class text replete with horrible study guides, misguided questions,
Jan 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: resident aliens studying for citizenship
I really associate this book with the lead-up to and outcome of the last presidential election, and so while I remember really enjoying this a lot at the time I read it, every time I look at it now I get a heavy, sick feeling deep in my bowels, and I kind of feel like killing myself. It makes me flash back to riding the train around for work on November 3, 2004 with one of the most soul-crushing, emotionally annihilating hangovers I've ever had in my life. I remember staring at an excerpt of Yea ...more
A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. Note - the last word is not a mistake.


The greatest democracy in the world is explained to people who live in it, or don't understand it, or fear it

Ch. 1: Democracy Before America
Ch. 2: The Founding of America
Ch. 3: The President: King of Democracy
Ch. 4: Congress: Quagmire of Freedom
Ch. 5: The Judicial Branch: It Rules
Ch. 6: Campaigns and Elections: America Changes the Sheets
Ch. 7: The Media: Democracy's Guardian Angels (retitled two pages later as "The Me
J.G. Keely
I know Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, and Colbert are more honest and reliable news sources than the rest of the media, I just don't believe it.

Ironically, it is that same gap between knowledge and belief that has resulted in this sad state.

the reactionary, opinionated pundits keep talking down to these little basic-cable comedy shows, but the fact that their feathers are so ruffled shows that they are afraid, and that they consider this to be as serious as the rest of us.

Why is Stewart the journa
Feb 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Published on my book blog.

I'm a big fan of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, but for some reason I'd never felt curious to read any of their books until this year. I considered starting with Earth (the book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race, but thought I'd go through this older one first.

I have to admit, when I started I was a bit taken aback. I don't know what I expected, but the first chapter ("Democracy before America") was written with such an unapologetic disregard for History that I cou
Aug 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have lost track of the number of pristine copies of this book I have found on the side of the road.

I have also lost track of the total quantity of marijuana I have broken up upon the pristine copy of this book I decided to take home.

I have also lost track of where said copy ever went. It's really the ideal surface/size for all your joint-rolling needs.

And no, I never bothered to read the damn book. We were too busy getting high and watching True Blood or pretending to read Winterson.

Winter, s
Apr 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
This was a quick read, I hate politics and find it boring and full of nonsensical bull****, but I enjoyed this book and even though it is full of slanderous lies I feel I have learnt quite a bit. It also raises some important questions like

"If con is the opposite of pro, then is congress the opposite of progress?"

Most interesting to me was the layout of the judicial system, from lower courts to the Supreme court, all previous knowledge on this subject was gained from watching Boston Legal, I now
Sep 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio version of this book on both legs of a cross-country trip. I'll warn others who are thinking of doing the same that you will either be stifling your laughter to not bother your neighbors, or you will be laughing out loud and looking mighty strange. Hearing Jon Stewart's narration of the text, with his perfect timing, made this a very enjoyable listen. Some of the humor just came from crassness i.e. the thought of Patrick Henry calling someone "fucknuts," but for the most ...more
Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing

I Laughed, I Cried,, I Wept A Little, and Laughed Again, 19 Nov 2006

"This book has many fine qualities, but its cavalier disregard for accuracy of quotations, its insufficient scholarly documentation, its often quixotic use of illustrations, and its frequent usage of inappropriate language and word choices all detract from its virtues. With just a little more attention to detail, (well, in some cases, considerably more attention to detail), this book would stand as a first-rate addition to the
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
This book taught me many things. It taught me that American History and Government is very boring. It taught me that even an hilarious parody of American History and Government cannot make the subject interesting. It taught me that it's not easy to get a good posed picture of an eagle. It also taught me that I am even more ignorant of popular culture than I think I am because there were some jokes I didn't get. I also learned that Stephen Colbert can look adorable in almost anything, even sadoma ...more
Jun 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Try to do yourselves a favor and get your hands on the audiobook version. While the experience is quite different in the absence of the visuals (a BIG part of the book's humor), there's something to be said for hearing all of the DS's original cast reading passages of the book aloud. Most hilarious is Stephen Colbert's lessons for teachers/quiz questions at the end of each chapter. The audiobook made a long trip to Austin from Dallas that much faster! Beware! It might get you laughing so hard yo ...more
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor
If you are at all familiar with The Daily Show With John Stewart, then you pretty much know what this book will be like. Two notes:

(1) The book is also a parody of school textbooks, from the obvious (and great) "Classroom Activities" at the end of each chapter to more subtle touches like the bold text used for key vocabulary words.

(2) There is a fair amount of profanity, sometimes used well but sometimes a jarring attempt at a cheap laugh.
Lisa Vegan
Aug 12, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Jon Stewart & The Daily Show, humor book fans
One of the few times I enjoy the movie or tv show (in this case: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) more than the book. Took me a while appreciate the book, but there are many funny and clever parts in the book.
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Full Disclosure--I am addicted to The Daily Show. When I miss the show, I can be found at my desk at work sneaking a peek at the internet repeat. So this was absolutely the book for me. A totally entertaining look at the "citizen's guide of democracy inaction". Lots of moments when I found myself laughing out loud. That wouldn't be so bad, but again I was at my desk. I really need to get a grip on my behavior. Loved this book. ...more
Feb 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A humorous and satirical look at our country, the ideals it was based on, those who founded it, and how it compares to other areas of the world.
Unless you are already an expert on America, democracy and everything pertaining to it, you will find yourself wondering whether the information contained in this book is the truth, or a joke. The answer to that question is, "yes." I had to resort to an internet search more often than I care to admit, but I found that I learned more by being prompted by
Sep 20, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture
I got this as a gift because my friend knew I love Jon Stewart. If I had picked it up at a bookstore and perused a few pages I wouldn't have bought it. It was ok and at times humorous but it didn't really add anything to my life. I still watch his show here and there of course, but I wanted more from his book. ...more
Dec 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
I'm a big fan of The Daily Show, and was very happy when I received this book as a gift. But, I actually couldn't do much more than flip through it, after trying to read the first 20 pages or so and being miserably disappointed.

In my opinion, Jon Stewart's wit, sarcasm and wry insight just doesn't translate well off the small screen and into print.
Dec 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lol. This short "history" of democracy and all "about" our democratic institution is accurately hilarious in a way only the Daily Show writers could produce... And so it's irreverent and sometimes vulgar too.
Reid Harbin
Jul 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Brilliant satire of a broken system. Some parts are just insanely funny
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When a talent behind one of the best shows America has to offer writes a book, you buy it no questions asked. If you do so you are in for one hell of a ride.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
13 years after publication this is still bang on.
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, political
Thanks to blessedly isolated geography, a can-do spirit and an indigenous population with primitive weapons and surprisingly weak immune systems, the United States has experienced consistent growth and expansion over its entire history.

Ah. 'Merica.

This book is set up like a text book. I've been years out of practice reading one, but it turns out it's like riding a bicycle when it includes naked (and I mean stark naked) Supreme Court Justice paper dolls and the essential news interviewer facial
Will Crim
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book, not to sound like one of those who constantly praise every book they read, was the funniest book I have ever read. And another plus to reading this book was that I felt smart doing so. I love political satyre especially from the mind of Jon Stewart. In the very beginning John or apparently the corpse of Thomas Jefferson writes a foreword to the book. My favorite line in the foreward was "Sally may not like it, but as we used to say in the back parlours of 18th-century Paris, 'tough t ...more
Dec 12, 2007 marked it as to-read
Shelves: own, lulz
I bought this book for five dollars from Borders. Yay for me. I started reading a bit, it's pretty hilarious. I love the faux textbook-esque style of it. I opened it up to a random page and read under a "Discussion questions" section "List the top 100 tv shows you would rather watch than the evening news". Hahahhhaha. Awesome. ...more
Jackie "the Librarian"
Sep 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Liberal leftists like me
Shelves: humor
Very funny, sad but true look at our screwed up, dysfunctional government. I only give it 4 stars because the delivery of the humor by my inner voice wasn't nearly as good as Jon Stewart's on the show.
When does the movie version come out?
Nov 13, 2008 rated it did not like it
I was all for this book. It was VERY funny and quite entertaining, until I saw pics of all supreme court justices faces photoshopped onto naked bodies. (Shudder)
Jan 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2016
Yikes... This book did not transform well into an audiobook.
Bradley Morgan
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Combining political analysis and witty social commentary, this faux textbook serves as an all inclusive parody guide to the history, function, and failure of American culture. This guide includes topics such as America's colonial history, bicameral legislative process, relationship to it's media and citizens, the future of the country, and naked photos of the Supreme Court Justices. This abridged history of America provides an elegant, and sometimes low brow, introspective look into our way of l ...more
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-the-good
I love the Daily Show and I loved this book, which literally had me laughing out loud. Which was sort of embarassing because it was at work. Written out in the style of your typical high school history text book, the book is engaging, and oddly truthful in many ironic ways.

The one problem I found in this book was that it tended to drag a bit in a few parts, specifically when sections became really fact heavy and didn't have that much humor in them. Part of the reason people want to buy/read this
In the wake of everyone talking about people living in "bubbles" in the wake of the 2016 US Presidential election, I have to say that this book isn't going to puncture or cross any bubbles. That said, I found it an engaging and amusing very brief summary of the "basics" sprawling topics of US history and politics. For me it was a general refresher of many things that sounded vaguely familiar from school, but which I should really know better/have paid more attention to. Although this is definite ...more
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pineapples 2 27 Feb 21, 2014 11:39PM  

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Jon Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz) is an American comedian, satirist, actor, writer, pundit, and producer. He is best known for hosting Comedy Central’s The Daily Show from 1999 to 2015 and for his political satire.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See authors with similar names here.

Stewart started as a stand-up comedian, but later

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