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America (The Book):
A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction  
Cover of America (The Book); featured is Stewart and an eagle.
Author Jon Stewart
Ben Karlin
David Javerbaum
with
Samantha Bee
Rich Blomquist
Steve Bodow
Tim Carvell
Stephen Colbert
Rob Corddry
Eric Drysdale
Ed Helms
Chris Regan
Country USA
Language English
Genre(s) Humor
Publisher Warner Books
Publication date September 2004
Pages 227
ISBN ISBN 0-446-53268-1
OCLC Number 56479080
Dewey Decimal 818/.5407 22
LC Classification PN6231.P6 S84 2004
Followed by America (the Book) Teacher's Edition: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
America (the Book) Teacher's Edition: A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction  
Author Jon Stewart
Ben Karlin
David Javerbaum
with
Samantha Bee
Rich Blomquist
Steve Bodow
Tim Carvell
Stephen Colbert
Rob Corddry
Eric Drysdale
Ed Helms
Chris Regan
Country USA
Language English
Genre(s) Humor
Publisher Warner Books
Publication date September 2006
Media type Trade paperback
Pages 227
ISBN ISBN 0-446-69186-0
Preceded by America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction

America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction is a 2004 non-fiction book written by Jon Stewart and other writers of The Daily Show that parodies and satirizes American politics and worldview. It has won several awards, and generated some controversy.

An updated trade paperback edition was published in 2006 as a "Teacher's Edition," with updated coverage of the Supreme Court Justices (including Samuel Alito and John Roberts, who were appointed after the 2004 book's publication), and fact checking by a "real scholar" with red marks and remarks appearing throughout, correcting the satirical "mistakes" of the original edition. The scholar is Stanley Schultz, professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[1]

Contents

Description

America (The Book) was written and edited by Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin, David Javerbaum, and other writers of The Daily Show. Karlin was the show's executive producer and Javerbaum its head writer. The book is written as a parody of a US high school civics textbook, complete with study guides, questions, and class exercises. Also included are scholarly "Were You Aware?" boxes, one of which explains that "the term 'Did You Know' is copyrighted by a rival publisher". The book provides discussion questions to mock history study guide books, with ridiculous questions such as: "Would you rather be a king or slave? Why or why not?". It pokes fun at the American political system, and includes a chapter caricaturing stereotypical American views of the rest of the world.

People affiliated with The Daily Show, such as Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, and Ed Helms, contributed small articles. Bee's articles related the "Canadian view point" on topics, such as "We have media in Canada, too!". Stephen Colbert gives heavily biased viewpoints on topics such as Warren G. Harding (who is often considered one of the worst American presidents). Ed Helms wrote articles stating what he would do if afforded certain positions of power and references the death of a specific individual for reasons never revealed to the reader.

One page contains mock campaign stickers for various candidates. These include "Lifelong Democrat Retired Palm Beach Jews for Buchanan" (referencing the butterfly ballot fracas that brought about the 2000 recount in Florida), "I cast my five slaves' three votes for James K. Polk" and "Undecided Voters for Candidate". One of the most notable has "Humphrey in '68" in large print, then in much smaller print "Because otherwise, in four years, Nixon's boys will be caught breaking into the Watergate office trying to sabotage their opponents, creating unprecedented scandal and ushering in an era of cynicism that will shape politics for decades to come. Call it a hunch. So, to repeat: Humphrey in '68".

Appearing shortly before the 2004 US presidential election, the book originally included several pages of an "Election Guide" making fun of both candidates. Printings of the book made after the election do not have this insert.

Publishers Weekly (PW) chose it as its "Book of the Year"; it noted that "in a year defined by political polemics, it seems fitting that PW's Book of the Year be one in which the authors survey the entire political system and laugh." The audio book version won the Grammy Award in 2005 for "Best Comedy Album." The book, published in September 2004, remained a bestseller even after the election. In addition to America (The Audiobook), it has also spun off into America (The Calendar).

Controversy

The fifth chapter contains obviously-doctored photographs with the heads of then-current U.S. Supreme Court justices superimposed on appropriately-aged naked bodies. An adjacent page invites the reader to cover each justice with a cutout of his or her robe to "restore their dignity". Some organizations found the images offensive and refused to carry the book. Wal-Mart said the retailer canceled its order for America (The Book) because it "felt a majority of our customers would not be comfortable with the image".[2] (The Teacher's Edition fired back, including a Wal-Mart "quote" reading "Even better on second banning!") Some Mississippi public libraries removed the book from their shelves, but the ban was lifted the day after its issue because the library board had received numerous complaints.[3]

Cartoonist Bruce Tinsley's objection to the book's Mallard Fillmore parody, which appears among six other backdated cartoon parodies, found its way into the actual comic's July 5-8, 2005 editions. The title character states that Jon Stewart "tried to deceive people into thinking" that the book's phony Fillmore was a real one by putting a past date (October 1, 1998) next to the fake strip. The strip went on to imply that Stewart was a pedophile.[4] Stewart retaliated in the Teacher's Edition by having the "real scholar" note that although it is not a real Mallard Fillmore strip, it has about the same level of humor.

Table of contents

  • Study Guide
  • Foreword: by Thomas Jefferson
  • 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 Media: Democracy's Valiant Vulgarians")
  • Ch. 8: The Future of Democracy: Four Score and Seven Years from Now
  • Ch. 9: The Rest of the World: International House of Horrors
  • Afterword
  • Acknowledgments
  • Credits
  • Election 2004 (unlisted bonus section, not included in post-election printings)

Cultural impact

Denise Dresser and Jorge Volpi co-wrote Mexico, lo que todo ciudadano quisiera (no) saber de su patria[5] ("Mexico, that which every citizen would like [not] to know of his fatherland"). The book is heavily based on Stewart's book. Jon Stewart is thanked in the book "for giving the authors the idea".

See also

References








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