I fancy myself a libertarian, so I surprised even myself when I decided to buy this book. After watching a few of Dr. Carson's TV interviews and, of course, his quasi-famous (infamous?) National Prayer Breakfast address, I found myself intrigued by his way of thinking. Now, after reading America the Beautiful, I feel like I know his life story... and what an amazing story he has. If ever you need some motivation to get up and do something, reading a few pages at the beginning of most of the chapters should whip you into shape; however, it occasionally seems as if Dr. Carson lets his success get to his head, and he's definitely not the most humble success story out there. But I suppose when you've gotten to such a level, you deserve to be especially "self-confident."
I'd say the book is almost equal parts autobiography and social critique, which enables Dr. Carson to make some great segues between his life and his thought process. However, the style of writing occasionally comes off as seeming like a collection of high school essays with clearly-defined chapter structure; a little more variety wouldn't hurt. At the meat of it, I found myself agreeing with many of the legislative and interpersonal suggestions he has, but his views on America at war are a little frightening. Dr. Carson believes the United States should try to be the primary force for good in the world, which is a noble cause, but is the type of thinking that has caused America to spread its bloated military across more of the world than the Roman Empire, and has been a big cause of massive national debt. He also writes, in prose that oddly doesn't match the majority of the book, that during the Iraq war, he would announce to the residents of Fallujah that they had 72 hours to leave before they would "become part of the desert." He claims that if terrorists staying there didn't allow innocent people to leave, the deaths of the civilians due to the U.S. leveling the city would be the "responsibility" of those terrorists (and, strangely, makes no mention of having the option to call off the attack). One paragraph later, he writes that "buildings can always be replaced, but not so for even one life." I personally can't take somebody seriously if they feel lives can't be replaced after just advocating for mercilessly leveling an entire historic city, regardless of whether innocent people leave or not.
Aside from that, and aside from a sudden tirade about the importance of God to the U.S. at the end of the book, it was a great read. Lots of what Dr. Carson has to say makes sense and, if nothing else, it's great to learn more about an accomplished person who has done a lot of good for the world. Recommended.
Dr Carson brilliantly lays out why not only our nation is truly the greatest nation in the world despite our domestic turmoil but also the idea that our best days are still ahead of us. By throwing out the toxic notion of political correctness he explains how learning to accept the idea of hard work, responsibility, respect for your fellow man despite your differences, and taking a good long look at where we've been as as nation, what we've accomplished, what we've learned and how great we have it, we don't have to despair about our children's futures, but rather help each other suceed and get there together, by setting aside politics and using common sense and logic. Written long before he started his presidential campaign, this book just goes to show you how character and intelligence count for so much more than political experience and a well recognized name. His ideas, his example, will be what unite us all and lead us to a better future. Throwing out entitlement and intolerance, learning to accept one another and compromise, learning how to broaden your horizons through reading and learning something other than what society expects from you. It's truly an inspirational read that fills you with hope for the days ahead, and fills you with the drive to no longer sit down silent and complacent, but to stand up and be unafraid to say and act how you truly feel. A must read for Americans everywhere. It will change the way you see the country and the future for the better.
I came across this book while doing a search for another book. The title and the description sounded interesting so I ordered it. I had never heard of Dr. Carson but apparently after discussing the book with some friends, he is a well known moderate conservative. As I read the book, I became more and more aware of what an amazing and decent human being he is - lifting himself up from poverty to become a respected neurosurgeon and also spending time to establish organizations to help others in the community.
Although I agree with many of the things he said, in particular the power of religion to create ethical people, I disagree with him on a couple of issues. The first is the taxation of the wealthy. I am completely in favor of the capitalist system, that is, financially rewarding people for their efforts; however, I also believe that the more wealth a person has the more influence they can have over government policies and thus distort the democratic process. This is particularly true in our current society where the candidate who can pay for the most publicity has an advantage and thus is more likely to listen to the most generous donor. The greater the disparity in wealth between the classes the less and less influence of the ordinary citizen in the political process. We must not only be able to reward people for innovation and hard work, but we must also have a system in place which will not allow them to acquire so much capital that they can essentially take control of the government and thus end this democratic society.
Additionally, I disagree with him on some issues regarding medical care. He seems to support healthcare for everyone and yet he is against socialized medicine. This to me is a contradiction. I believe that everyone is entitled to healthcare and thus believe in socialized medicine. He gives many good suggestions as to how we can reduce the cost of healthcare. One of the more notable is tort reform. But there is one cost control measure that he refuses to discuss – government control of physician wages. Countries which have socialized medicine do not have physicians making the enormous wages which they make in the United States. I am all for physicians making a good salary, but there is no reason why a surgeon should make ten times what a Ph.D in physics or chemistry makes. The training is not 10 times more complex nor is the intellect required to be a surgeon greater than that of a Ph.D. physicist or chemist.