I (somewhat) recently finished reading Al Gore‘s The Assault on Reason. It’s not my normal style of book to read, but I must say that I enjoyed it. It opened my eyes to a great many things, but more importantly got me asking some very important questions.
I will admit, though, that there were some points in the book that made me think it should have been titled, The Assault on George W Bush in Some Areas Relating to Reasons and Others Not Quite Related. I mean it was a full on attack of the President and his administration. I should have expected as much, though, since it is written by a left-wing Democrat. I would expect, now, as much in reciprocation from books written by right-wing Republicans.
The book spoke much of propaganda and how it was used in the past, for example by the Nazis, to subdue the minds of a nation. It even went so far as to imply, whether directly or indirectly would be up to the speculation of the reader, how the current Bush administration would use Nazi-like propagation tactics to get their goals and agendas to be accepted by the American public. What amused me was how much of this book I felt was left-wing propaganda used to promote their own agenda and ideals all while it condemned the whole propaganda concept in the same breath.
If you can get past the obvious bias and agenda the book has, there are some incredible concepts and philosophies that Al Gore presents. The areas of the book, not directly attacking the President, but conveying the current state of our nation in areas relating to reason and rationality were fascinating and had me captivated. Gore made some amazing points and shows how the corporate mind-power that our nation employs as compared to our founding fathers has taken a drastic and shocking decrease. He shows how quickly a democracy can turn into a dictatorship and how many of our freedoms as American have been stripped away or perverted over the past several decades. Beyond his attacks of the President, Gore attacks other institutions, such as American’s sickening overindulgence of television consumption, and shows how this too plays a detrimental role in the knowledge and skill and reasoning of our nation.
And yet, after every amazing philosophical or logical debate on the state of our union, he goes back to an attack on the Bush administration, some with obvious links and some with, what I feel, were very weak links of attachment. It was almost, in my mind, that he was trying too hard to link Bush to every evil our country experiences today. I will say though, that if even half of his points and examples about the Bush administration are true and without bias, there is significant need to worry about the direction our nation is heading.
Still, despite the agonizing attacks on the President and the Republican party and despite the obvious agenda and biases presented, the book was very informative, if purely from a philosophical point, and makes you ask questions on what is really going on in our country. It makes you realize the importance of education, true education, and why simple things like reading and writing are so crucial to a society’s survival. It speaks much of the national discourse and the sharing of ideas and concepts. It talks of how all have a part to play in the ongoing discussion of our existence.
The final chapter is a huge essay of promotion for the Internet and Net Neutrality and keeping the means of communication open for the masses to take part in our national discourse – a topic visited over and over again throughout the book’s many chapters. As a tech geek, this last chapter got me quite excited as Mr Gore presented the Internet and the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon as one of the answers, yet still not the definitive answer, to the assault on reason prevalent in our society today. He showed the value of the Internet for the sharing of ideas and communication and the ongoing discussion that was so valuable at our country’s founding.
If you can get past the bias and the agenda presented over and over again and appreciate it for the ideas and questions it raises, then The Assault on Reason is a book you definitely want to read. It challenged me greatly and I believe I learned much from it. I read this book via audio book from Audible.com. It was narrated by Will Patton, who did a phenomenal job of it. His unique voice and mannerisms are one of the things that make him a great movie actor that I enjoy seeing, and I was quite excited when I found it was he that would narrate the 10 hours of audio book I was about to consume. I definitely recommend The Assault on Reason as a great book that any one, American or not, should read as to better understand the value of knowledge and, more importantly, communication.
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