Customer Reviews for

The Assault on Reason

Average Rating 3.5
( 35 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

A Sad Litany of Republican Abuses...and a Call to Reason

While George H. W. Bush has been jumping out of airplanes, Jimmy Carter has written numerous books 'one will be reviewed below' and has continued working with The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization he founded with his wife Rosalynne to promote democracy, improve he...
While George H. W. Bush has been jumping out of airplanes, Jimmy Carter has written numerous books 'one will be reviewed below' and has continued working with The Carter Center, a nonprofit organization he founded with his wife Rosalynne to promote democracy, improve health, and resolve conflicts worldwide. Along the way, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work with the Center. Bill Clinton, since leaving office, has written two books and now trots the globe buttonholing anyone who will listen to obtain funds for work in underdeveloped countries. Al Gore has been busy and productive, too. He has written books, including this recent one, won an academy award for his 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth on the global climate crisis, and was recently awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize 'he shared it with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change'. We haven¿t seen such efforts and achievements from our former Republican presidents. Richard Nixon did write several well-received books on world affairs, but Gerald Ford retired to Palm Springs to play golf, and Ronald Reagan was advanced in age when he left office 'still, couldn¿t he have dictated something to Nancy?'. And what can we expect from the 12 years of the Bush Administrations? Probably nothing as erudite, impassioned, and visionary as Gore¿s The Assault on Reason. This a complex and wide-ranging book, but it is held together by a main theme that underlies all of the discussion. Gore states it perhaps most succinctly two pages before the end: The rule of reason is the true sovereign of the American system. Our self-government is based on the ability of individual citizens to use reason in holding their elected representatives, senators, and presidents accountable for their actions. When reason itself comes under assault, American democracy is put at risk. On the issue of the necessity of ¿an informed citizenry,¿ as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, there is a strain of thought in American letters that is deeply conservative 'not to say elitist', perhaps best exemplified by Allan Bloom¿s 1988 book The Closing of the American Mind, which singled out higher education for ¿impoverishing the souls¿ of students. Gore is not in that camp and seems to truly believe that we can still govern ourselves intelligently given the chance and a more open system of dialogue, which he calls ¿the conversation of democracy.¿ Indeed, he is almost too sanguine about the American voter, letting us off a little too easily with regard to our own responsibility to seek out information and become ¿connected¿ to our democracy. Yet, Gore presents a reasonable case for why so many people seem to have opted out of the public debate. His principal argument is that we have moved from a print-based culture, which began in the late middle ages with the first printing presses and exploded during the Enlightenment of the 18th century, to a passive TV/film/video culture in which the ¿conversation¿ is essentially one way. He contrasts the activity of watching TV with the act of reading, in which, he says, we ¿co-create¿ the reality. With modern mass media technology, however, the images are so realistic and explicit that our reasoning shuts down, further cutting us off from involvement in public discourse. It also leaves us vulnerable to ¿propaganda¿ 'polite term, advertising', and Gore cites the liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith who, in the 1950s and 1960s 'e.g., The New Industrial State' wrote that huge corporate advertising budgets had permanently changed the classical economic model of supply and demand because so much of ¿demand¿ today 'Gore would include political acquiescence' is ¿manufactured¿ through extremely expensive, very slick, and emotionally persuasive 10- to 30-second TV spots. Another theme is the use of ¿fear-mongering¿ by those in power to gain political ends--how many times have we been told over the past seven years that we are in a constant, endle

posted by Anonymous on January 25, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Don't fall for it

I can't believe people still want to listen to this washed up, spotlight hungry, unrealistic man. He is a hypocrite and has no desire to teach in reality. He has no passion for our society he just want to be known for ill-fated reasons. This book is just another display...
I can't believe people still want to listen to this washed up, spotlight hungry, unrealistic man. He is a hypocrite and has no desire to teach in reality. He has no passion for our society he just want to be known for ill-fated reasons. This book is just another display of tearing the American people apart for fame. Thanks.

posted by Anonymous on January 3, 2008

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