How to Read This Book
This book was written for Americans who are too busy to read 50 books a year. It was written in a conversational style, an informal chat between me and you. It was written to be digested any way that you like. You want to begin at the beginning and read it straight through? OK, but don’t expect to get the plot any better than if you read it wherever you happen to put your thumb. Read it from the middle out? OK. You can read most of the book’s short essays in less time than you can hold your breath (“on your mark, get set, inhale.”). You can read one while you’re taking a coffee break, while you’re grabbing a bite, or even while you’re sitting on your throne. I have provided a check box (⎕) following each essay’s title for you to mark (√) an essay as “read.” Or you could pencil a number in the check box for the number of times you have read that essay. Or a number for how well you liked it. Or a “Y” or “N” for whether you agree. Or “*” for “I want to read this one again and tell all my friends about it.”
Please do not read this book while your significant other (or a friend, or a work colleague, or a family member, or even a complete stranger) is sharing your space with you; in other words, don’t be rude. And if you do get upset with something you read, please do not throw this book – or the mobile device you are reading it on – across the room, as it may hit someone. I am not responsible for such outbursts and their unhappy consequences; you are.
Now, before we start.
My book consists of many essays distributed more or less randomly so that you have to read the whole thing in order to get the greatest benefit from reading it. It consists of essays of the following types:
• On subject (the mess we are in – in mostly broad and some fine brush strokes – what needs to be done to clean it up, and what role you can play to help)
• Informative / instructive (the folks my book is aimed at have had little time to indulge the luxury of following the daily grind in Washington, DC; a significant chunk of my book is my small attempt to help them catch up)
• Exposé (politicians and talking heads – radio and TV “pundits” – don’t speak plain English, they speak George Orwell’s “doublethink”; their job is not to inform you, it is to get you to follow them with as little critical thought as possible, and I want to expose the underbelly of what they say)
• Provocative / challenging (I want to disturb your peace of mind, I want to shake you up, I want to make you think new thoughts, I want to channel your anger toward productive action; if your source of “news” is Fox News or MSNBC, you live in an Echo Chamber, where you listen to people who say what you already know; I want to shatter your Echo Chamber, I want to make you think)
• Interesting (if what I say is not interesting, you will chuck my book before wasting any more of your precious time; whether I have been informative or challenging or anything else will not matter if I am not interesting)
“The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.”
– President Ronald Reagan