- helpful votes
Not what I expected.
I saw Darrell Hammond had written a book, thought about how much I enjoyed watching him on SNL, and bought this audiobook without ever reading a review. I really just expected a collection of funny stories. I was shocked to learn more about the man and the struggles he faced with his inner demons. I bought the book thinking it would put me in a good mood to start each day, but more often than not, it left me feeling sad. Despite that, each morning I couldn't wait to start listening again. He does a great job mixing some warm fuzzies into his prickly life story.
A bit dull.
This book is packed with information. At times it seemed like overkill. Like early on when the author drones on about asthma, or the meticulous detail given about people not named Teddy Roosevelt.
39 of 41 people found this review helpful
Audiobooks make my time behind a steering wheel something to enjoy. This book ranked among my favorites for it's gripping story, while read with an easy voice. For rare finds like this book, I pray for traffic jams.
Short yet enjoyable.
If you want a short account of C A Arthur's presidency, this meets every expection.
Political opinion without substance.
I bought this believing it was a history book, but quickly realized this is only a political opinion piece. Even when measuring the book as an opinion, it fell short of it's intended purpose. The author lacks subjectivity and shows a clear conservative, Republican bias. If a potential reader believes Ronald Reagan was all good and Barack Obama is the spawn of Satan, then you will probably enjoy this book.
The author expects a reader to accept two important themes. After close inspection of each, major flaws become obvious. The author's entire premise for the book melts away like ice cream in hot sunlight.
First, he asks us to believe that our government's success or failure rides predominately on the President. He actually states, "American's have to believe that the most destructive element of government is not the Congress, or even the laws that are passed, but the illegal expansion of executive power in the last 150 years". This is absolutely absurd! I don't have the space here to list all of the catastrophic laws that have been passed by Congress. Possibly even worse than Congress is our Judicial system, where Justices are appointed for life. 'Citizens Untied', a Supreme Court decision, has all but legalized bribery through dark-money campaign contributions. Where unlimited, untraceable money flows, greed and corruption grow. Corporations and new age robber barons are currently pulling the strings of our broken government (both parties!). Our entire system rests on a 3 legged stool. It is a detriment to us all if this author succeeds in convincing voters that two of the legs are unimportant and should be completely ignored.
The second flaw of the book rides on the author's attempt to measure past presidents based solely on how well each adhered to a strict interpretation of the Constitution. The Constitution is one of the greatest documents ever created, and we should always question new and existing laws with the Constitution in mind. However, the Constitution, it's amendments, and the process for adding amendments are not without flaws themselves. Although brilliant, the authors could not foresee the world we have today. The founding fathers themselves could not agree on the Constitution's meaning and limitations. After the Constitution was signed, it took 80 years and a Civil War to conclude that black people were in fact people. This alone serves as proof that the Constitution and it's amendments can conflict with self evident truths. It is correct to use the Constitution as our guiding principal, but foolish to strictly bind ourselves to the writings of men who had less understanding of science than today's 6th grader.
It seems that the author's personal bias tainted his work. Again, he is attempting to measure all presidents based on a strict Constitutional interpretation. As one that tried to save her, he touts Thomas Jefferson. I believe he has a major man-crush on President Jefferson. Although he mentions the Louisiana Purchase toward the end of the book, he completely fails to mention it while lavishing praise on Jefferson. Although the Louisiana Purchase was a great event in US history, it was NOT constitutional for President Jefferson to use the Executive Branch to negotiate a massive land deal with France. When using the method created by the author, for the purpose of judging Presidents, the Louisiana Purchase alone should not only have plucked Jefferson off the good list, it should have put him at the very top of the bad list.
Another example of the author's bias reflects in his glowing words on President Reagan. I am not asserting whether Reagan was a good president or a bad president. I am only pointing out that if Mr Reagan were judged by the same ridiculous standard as the 9 Presidents shunned in this book, he too would have occupied a spot on the bad list. Under President Reagan, the Executive Branch acted against the will of Congress, sold weapons to Iran, and used the proceeds to fund the Contras in Nicaragua. I'd challenge the author to show where in the Constitution that power is granted to a President.
This book took on a big task, which was to convince us to evaluate presidents in a different way. It failed! First, it failed to show why this was even necessary, and second it created results that were flawed and pointless.
I have a new found respect for President Grant.
History is cluttered with leaders that chose to persue personal gain and power, and as a result, lost sight of moral character. It's easy to admire a man that achieved much, yet was never corrupted by his successes. He was not driven by ego. As a man, he was honest, humble, and kind to the very end.
Blah blah blah.
The major theme of this book is an argument for a return to the gold standard. Trust me, we are NOT going back to the gold standard. That's just stupid. Get over it!
Taibbi is brilliant!
Taibbi has a gift for diagnosing core problems. His writing is both enlightening and funny. He is a very rare and talented individual.
5 of 9 people found this review helpful
The reader did a wonderful job. Felt like Muhammad Ali was talking to me himself.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
The book begins with the story of Genghis Khan, but he dies less than half way through. From there things meander from his offspring, to various other people like Marco Polo, and even a section about the Black Death. By far my favorite part of this audio book came at the very end. The author speaks directly to the listener about the life and times of Genghis Khan. That small section was just wonderful.