How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free
By Charles P. Pierce
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780767926140, 304pp.)
Publication Date: June 2, 2009
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The Culture Wars Are Over and the Idiots Have Won
A veteran journalist's acidically funny, righteously angry lament about the glorification of ignorance in the United States.
In the midst of a career-long quest to separate the smart from the pap, Charles Pierce had a defining moment at the Creation Museum in Kentucky, where he observed a dinosaur. Wearing a saddle.... But worse than this was when the proprietor exclaimed to a cheering crowd, “We are taking the dinosaurs back from the evolutionists!” He knew then and there it was time to try and salvage the Land of the Enlightened, buried somewhere in this new Home of the Uninformed.
With his razor-sharp wit and erudite reasoning, Pierce delivers a gut-wrenching, side-splitting lament about the glorification of ignorance in the United States, and how a country founded on intellectual curiosity has somehow deteriorated into a nation of simpletons more apt to vote for an American Idol contestant than a presidential candidate.
With Idiot America, Pierce's thunderous denunciation is also a secret call to action, as he hopes that somehow, being intelligent will stop being a stigma, and that pinheads will once again be pitied, not celebrated.
CHARLES P. PIERCE has been a writer-at-large for Esquire since 1997 and is a frequent contributor to American Prospect and Slate. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, The Nation, The Atlantic, and the Chicago Tribune, among other publications, and he is a regular on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and Only a Game.
“A raucous rant against the armies of the right. . . . Pierce is at his scathing, insightful best.”
—The Boston Globe
“A lively and, dare I say, intelligent study of the ongoing assault on gray matter.”
—Stephen Amidon, The New York Observer
“[A] witty and pointed indictment of our nation’s disturbing ability to vilify smart people and elevate chowderheads to positions of power and influence.”
—The Salt Lake Tribune
“For a good (if painful) laugh about creationism and other bits of American lunacy, try Charles Pierce’s Idiot America. It’s a funny, sly version of an argument made recently by Al Gore in The Assault on Reason, and by the brilliant Susan Jacoby in The Age of American Unreason.”
—John A. Farrell, USNews.com
“There is only one Charles Pierce, and while that may be a good thing, it is also a damn good thing we have his unique combination of gonzo, erudition, fearlessness, and eloquence to help us make sense of a senseless world. I stand in awe, and appreciation.”
—Eric Alterman, author Why We’re Liberals and When Presidents Lie
“Pierce penetrates, and the world feels less idiotic already.”
—Roy Blount Jr., author of Alphabet Juice and Long Time Leaving
“Charles Pierce takes us on a brilliant and hilarious tour of the back roads of American idiotocracy through history—skewering Atlantis-seekers, evolution deniers, jackasses, nincompoops, and right-wing know-it-alls with his trademark sledgehammer wit. Reading Pierce’s Idiot America, I laughed myself stupid.”
—Amy Dickinson, author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville
“Engaging. . . . Pierce delivers a rapier-sharp rant on how the America of Franklin and Edison, Fulton and Ford has devolved into America the Uninformed.”
“There’s a guy down at the end of the bar who’s furiously angry, hilariously funny, and has an Irish poet’s talent for language. He’s been traveling the country, and he’s been alternately appalled and moved by what he’s found there, and, lucky you, he wants to tell you all about it. Listen.”
—Peter Sagal, author of The Book of Vice and host of NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me