30 October 2011

"Idiot America" by Charles P. Pierce

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
Charles P. Pierce
Date of Publication: 4 May 2010
Cover Price: $15.95
307 pages

Idiot America is Charles P. Pierce's essay (diatribe?) about the evolution of political cranks in America from the era of the sacrosanct Founders through the George W. Bush era and the blunders of Iraq.  Pierce follows the thread throughout our national narrative, hitting such high points as Ingatius Donnelly and his off-kilter views of Atlantis; conspiracy theories about the Masons; the ongoing battle between religious fundamentalists and science re: creation of life; and the rabid, twisted media circus that swarmed Terry Sciavo in Florida.  A liberal like me should be able to find a chuckle or two throughout, but this is very much a work preaching to the choir; few, if any, conservative readers will be swayed.  Rather, I suspect Idiot America will only inflame such readers...which, if I had to guess, is Pierce's intent anyway.

A friend of mine, knowing my political leanings, lent me her paperback edition of this almost a year ago.  I had some other things I was trying to finish off by year's end so it kept getting deferred until finally this Spring I opened it.  I just finished it late last night.  Why the delay?  Because I couldn't concentrate enough to read for most of this year.  Yes, this is one of the chief reasons you've seen so many discussions about comic books in this blog this year: they're about all I could manage to read and absorb.  For months, I could only manage a few pages at a time before I would stop being able to comprehend what I was trying to read and by then I had already forgotten what the previous few pages had just told me.

My concentration and absorption issues, it seems, were the result of the severity of my depression.  So too were my headaches and frequent dizziness.  I was hopeful when the doctor assured me that these things would abate as I made progress on managing the depression.  Lo and behold, last night I was able to finish off the book's final 64 pages in a single setting!  This may seem trivial, but it's a major victory for me and since I am working on accentuating the positive, I'm basking in this at the moment.  (Or at least, I'm trying to; I'm quite nauseated and I believe I'm about to take a Promethazine and return to bed.)

Can I recommend Idiot America?  I'm not even sure if I'm qualified, since my reading of it went so poorly.  I can say that conservatives shouldn't bother; this is not the kind of book that makes an effort at being conciliatory.  Rather, it balks at the very notion of such diplomacy.  Left-leaning readers will likely want to quote Pierce, chapter and verse, but I doubt any of them will really learn anything here.  Strangely, then, Idiot America is guilty of its own thesis: that we became a land of uncritical thinking because we have reduced arguments to become products to consume; that we select only that which conforms to our preconceived notions.  Ah, irony.

Whatever.  The important thing is...I can read!


  1. I am happy to know that you are making progress. I look forward to the book you are in the process of creating.

  2. Technically, all I've created so far is an ambiguous outline. The writing doesn't start until tomorrow!