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My Liberal Education: How I Survived the First Four Years of George W. Bush

My Liberal Education: How I Survived the First Four Years of George W. Bush

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by Elizabeth James

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DAVIDSON, N.C. author Elizabeth James' humorous and thought-provoking novel, My Liberal Education: How I Survived the First Four Years of George W. Bush , details a career move to a red state and a series of eye-opening adventures which spark a political awakening for an aspiring journalist in the dawn of the current Republican reign.

Pandora Duncan is an


DAVIDSON, N.C. author Elizabeth James' humorous and thought-provoking novel, My Liberal Education: How I Survived the First Four Years of George W. Bush , details a career move to a red state and a series of eye-opening adventures which spark a political awakening for an aspiring journalist in the dawn of the current Republican reign.

Pandora Duncan is an attractive, 25-year-old "heterosexual of average intelligence" who leaves a progressive family in urban Baltimore to advance her journalism career at a small-town North Carolina newspaper. The action spans the first four years of the George W. Bush administration as it follows Pan's development from an apolitical, self-absorbed woman without direction to a mature liberal activist.

The transformation takes place as Pan interacts with a diverse group of people: Ethan Earnest, her idealistic young boss; Caroline Evans, her evangelical officemate from the religious right; the Walton family, her black neighbors; Joelle and Carlos Figueroa, a conservative Hispanic couple; and Dr. Jerry Dobbs, a Texan orthopedic surgeon, who is cautiously middle-of-the-road politically and competes with Ethan for Pan's affection. Billie and Lizz, a committed lesbian couple, round out the story and teach Pan about love and inclusiveness. My Liberal Education explores a myriad of topics as Pan experiences romance, religious soul-searching, violence, danger, mystery and tragedy. As she navigates her Republican-dominated reality, she also struggles with such life-changing events as Sept. 11th and the eruption of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

While the tone is often-humorous, raunchy and satirical, the intent of this book is deadly serious: to explore every American's responsibility to be informed, to take a stand on vital issues and to honor citizenship and safeguard democracy with the same passion one brings to personal relationships.

Set in lush, Southern surroundings that add a rich layer of atmosphere, My Liberal Education is a politically charged story with both sensitivity and bite.

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.03(d)

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Pandora's quotes...
Myself...My parents hope that when life opens up my box, instead of releasing sorrow, disease, and conflict to mankind, wonderful things will fly out...and I'm eager to form some philosophy about the why of my existence. So far, I don't have a clue.

God... is the fearsome, white-bearded figure floating in the clouds at the very top of the stained glass window. He smells of incense and lemon oil rubbed into old wooden pews, and He sounds like people coughing into their hymnals and an organ always slightly out of tune.

Faith... my indoctrination had been minimal at best...our pastor never claimed to know God's mind, especially on hot-button topics like abortion, homosexuality, or the right to die. We learned it was wrong to kill, steal, or covet our neighbors' wives, but all those taboos seemed like perfectly sensible conclusions to be drawn by any secular society, not edicts from Heaven.

Abortion... I did not relish the idea of a bunch of old farts telling me what I could or could not do with my body. While I doubted I would ever abort a pregnancy, that decision must remain between my Maker and myself, not regulated by Big Brother.

Soccer moms... I tried to care about man-pleasing recipes and what kind of flowers I'd choose for my wedding, but those concepts made me so nervous I wanted to throw up. What if God had forgotten some essential ingredient that would make me a real woman?

Abstinence... The Christian Right believes in abstinence, not birth control, and that homosexuality, abortion, and masturbation should never be discussed at all. They claim pregnancy prevention drugs or the morning after pill will make women promiscuous. Do they hate sex? It's a wonder they even make babies.

War in Iraq... I saw fireworks exploding above ancient mosques, governmental palaces, and unsuspecting neighborhoods. I heard the hollow, deep-in-your-belly thuds of bombs detonating, the shrill whistle of missiles, and suddenly I was crying. We were doing this. My country was attacking a sovereign nation without provocation, against the will of the UN Security Council, against the will of half the American people.

George W. Bush... A larger-than-life Bush face filled the muted TV screen, and it explained that Shock and Awe had begun. As I watched his small mouth working, I was amazed, not for the first time, how our president could look so worried, smug, and stupid all at once.

Fall of the middle class... Bush desired a nation of Masters and Peons (pronounced pee-ons). The Masters, including the president's buddies, would benefit from the tax cuts, the repeal of the inheritance tax, and the relaxation of environmental regulations. They would ignore the Peons' health care, send their jobs overseas, eliminate their social programs, cut funding for their education, and remove their safety net, while cheap imported labor would clean the Masters' kitchens and country clubs.

The Masters would limit the awards in lawsuits, no matter how mal their practice (so the Peons couldn't sue their butts off), and in the end, the Masters would dominate the world.

In the meantime, the Peons would get poorer, sicker, dumber, and more dependent on the noblesse oblige of Faith-Based Charities. They would be shamed or banished by the so-called Moral Majority should they dare to practice an alternative lifestyle or worship the wrong God, and they'd be programmed by fear, so they would line up to fight the Masters' wars.

Hog lots... It's not only my problem that much of North Carolina is drowning in hog shit. I didn't force the family farmer out of business to make room for the big CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) I couldn't help it that only one hog generates ten times as much feces as one human...

Don't blame me because they dump twenty-five million gallons of untreated pig yuck into holding lagoons that stink to high heaven, drive down the real estate prices for miles around, and overflow to contaminate the air, rivers, and streams. Is it my fault they spray the liquid shit onto the fields, which become so toxic the grass would kill any animal stupid enough to graze...?

War on Terror... George W. Bush described his war on terror as a crusade. I thought about America's profound distrust of Muslims, the bloody history of religious wars throughout the centuries, and the lyrics to Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war...with the cross of Jesus, going on before. The words conjured up images of the Ku Klux Klan burning Jesus' cross as they marched with hatred for blacks, Jews...anyone different from themselves. When those activities became politically incorrect, maybe those same fanatics joined the Right Wing army and redirected their vitriol?

Gay Marriage... I was 100% for gay marriage, but feared the topic might become the fly on the donkey's ass come the next election, a fly the Democrats couldn't shoo away with the flick of the tail.

Gays had endured exclusion, persecution, prosecution, and even execution, yet they had survived with courage, dignity, and disdain for the narrow morals and traditional morays that had made their lives a misery. And I asked myself, after years of being shunned by the marriage Club, why would anyone want to join that Club?

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My Liberal Education: How I Survived the First Four Years of George W. Bush 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
monicawalker More than 1 year ago
If you're a liberal, progressive, independent or just plain middle-of-the-roader in the game of politics, you will adore this book. You really, really should NOT miss it. It will make you laugh and cry. It will inform you. It will entertain you with a face-paced love story about a romance between a young liberal and a young conservative. The author very realistically and unobtrusively peppers her book with a rainbow of all the different kinds of people sheltered under the big beautiful wing of the Liberal Way of looking at the world: black Americans, lesbians, the elderly, a biracial couple, a liberal activist who takes on Fixed Noise (aka Fox News), and a female university Classics professor and ardent supporter of the Democratic Party (mother of the main character, Pandora Duncan). The author also, however, manages to pull in - again, unobtrusively - a set of sterling representatives of the Other Side - the Neo Cons: a Christian fundamentalist; a hack for one of Dubya's henchman; and a main character whose family is so close to the Bushes that George Herbert and Barbara attend his mother's (this character is Jerry, the physician turned soldier who is also Pandora's fiancé). All this makes for a rollicking good read as well as a view straight from the American trenches - with lots of humor pitched in to soften the blows -- of the horrors of Dubya's first four years as the pResident who managed to occupy our White House for a time. This book will walk you down memory lane, through that battleground that was America from 2000 to 2004, and will help you make sense of that indescribably horrific period in American history. And last but not least, this book will treat you to some darn good writing, writing that will knock your socks off in places with its fresh, new and exciting descriptions of people, places and things. Get your hands on a copy of this book; you won't be sorry you did (unless of course you are a Neo-Con, or one of the remaining five people in the country who still think George Dubya smells like roses).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Unlike other ¿coming of age¿ novels, My Liberal Education is a rollicking tale with an unusual literary twist. In this debut book by Elizabeth James, truth and fiction are inextricably entwined as real-life political figures and world events mix with fictitious characters going about the rather messy business of living their lives. But before you reach the end of this engaging, thought-provoking novel, you will be convinced ¿ without a shadow of a doubt - that truth really is much stranger than fiction! Pandora Duncan, the 25-year old protagonist of the novel is a self-proclaimed ¿good girl¿ who goes through many changes that parallel the changes also taking place in America. Thrust into a conservative southern culture far-removed from her Northeastern progressive roots, Pan must look inward to discover who she really is ¿ what she believes in, values and loves ¿ as she struggles to make sense of a world gone awry after the events of September 11. Part of this process of self-discovery is shaped in reaction to the world policies of the George W. Bush administration part is shaped by the diverse characters that people Pan¿s life. During the course of the novel, Pandora falls in love with two very different men ¿ Ethan Ernest, an idealistic, pacifist, left-wing journalist and Jerry Dobbs, a Harley-riding surgeon turned medic/soldier. Along the way, she also must put her own theories about prejudice to the test when she moves next door to an African-American family, becomes best friends with a young Hispanic woman, and takes a crash course in the meaning of same-sex love from a pair of committed lesbians. By the end of this novel, readers will see that Pandora, much like her own country, has undergone a vast transformation in four short years. No matter on which side of the political fence you may sit, all readers will agree that My Liberal Education will make us think about the future of this country ¿ and may even challenge us to take a good, long unwavering look at ourselves¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
Combining the engaging story of a young woman's head first plunge into a new and alien environment, (e.g. The Red State of North Carolina) with insightful commentary on our culturally and politically polarized country-- Elizabeth James has woven a narrative tapestry that could not be more relevant or revealing. Pandora Duncan is a green 20-something in the inchoate stages of self-discovery, who finds herself writing for a local newspaper in year 2000 North Carolina. The real editorial here is Pandora's self-realizations as she interacts with a wealth of exotic creatures, her new friends, neighbors and nemeses. In the process, she reevaluates her values and preconceptions of everything from environmentalism to her own eroticism (which James explores in sweltering detail). All this is carefully interleaved with the unending parade of political and social issues that emanated from the first four years of the Bush administration and James examines how these issues infuse themselves into the lives of Pandora and those around her, often creating frictions or cementing friendships. James has done here what few can, with grace and reserve she's allowed her protagonist to grow and change, contradict herself and 'flip-flop' her allegiances, in short, she's allowed Pandora to be a real person and at that, a truly engaging character. Never does she merely serve as a proxy for her author to pontificate or advance her own political doctrine. But she is fascinating to watch as she confronts circumstances and their fallout, whether in her tumultuous personal life, or circumstances on the world stage, both of which we can easily relate to, especially those we've all lived through in the not so distant past. My Liberal Education is not only the story of one woman's coming to self-understanding within a world spiraling out of control, but also a penetrating and terse time capsule of one of our country's most volatile eras. This is a great 'fish out of water' story, where Pandora, a self-professed 'liberal' Northeastern transplant, learns how provincial she really is as she starts breathing in her new heavily Republican community. But as those four years elapse, and she navigates the unfamiliar currents stirred up by the geopolitical turmoil that characterized Bush's first term, a new Pandora emerges... And while Bush is still president after those years, Pandora is hardly the same person at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth James' novel is unlike anything I've ever read. Her use of fiction to forward a political theme is unique and effective, especially since the engaging characters transcend contemporary concerns, making the story timeless. The story features 25-year old Pandora Duncan, who leaves her progressive family in Baltimore to work at a small town newpaper in North Carolina. As she experiences the first four years of the Bush Administration, Pan evolves from an apolitical, self-absorbed woman to a mature, committed activist. Along with the very diverse people who enter her life, Pan learns first-hand how flawed policies can impact the lives of decent, ordinary folks who are simply trying to live in peace and make ends meet. Pan interacts with her idealistic, invironmentally-responsible young boss and a conflicted Texan warrior/surgeon... both compete for Pan's love. The Walton family, Pan's black neighbors, take Pan under their wings and teach her about inclusiveness, while a conservative Hispanic couple and Pan's religiously Fundamental office mate offer opposing viewpoints. A committed lesbian couple teaches Pan the meaning of love, while a quirky prostitute/ labor organizer at Wal-Mart adds much to the often satirical tone. The book is funny, sexy, tragic, but mostly it urges readers to take a stand on vital issues, honor citizenship, and safeguard democracy with the same passion one brings to personal relationships.