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Publisher's Summary

The star of Parks and Recreation and author of the New York Times best seller Paddle Your Own Canoe returns with a second book that humorously highlights 21 figures from our nation's history, from her inception to present day - Nick's personal pantheon of "great Americans".

To millions of people, Nick Offerman is America. Both Nick and his character, Ron Swanson, are known for their humor and patriotism in equal measure.

After the great success of his autobiography Paddle Your Own Canoe, Offerman now focuses on the lives of those who inspired him. From George Washington to Willie Nelson, he describes 21 heroic figures and why they inspire in him such great meaning. He'll combine both serious history with light-hearted humor - comparing, say, George Washington's wooden teeth to his own experience as a woodworker. The subject matter will also allow Offerman to expound upon his favorite topics, which listeners love to hear - areas such as religion, politics, woodworking and handcrafting, agriculture, creativity, philosophy, fashion, and, of course, meat.

©2015 Nick Offerman (P)2015 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It was just ok

I love Nick Offerman. He and I agree on a ton of things, but this book just isn't one of them. It was well written and listening to him made it ok, but it just felt a little too preachy for my taste.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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A lot of opinions...

The first few chapters I found very informative with regard to our founding fathers. After that it all falls apart with A LOT of opinions on every topic under the sun... Plus, don't get me started with the Yoko Ono chapter.
This is my first Nick Offerman book, I'm not sure if I'll be partaking in any of his other ones.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Swagger and mirth

Nick Offerman sold me on this book when I read that it would feature Theodore Roosevelt, Carol Burnett and Jeff Tweedy. I like Offerman -- you know where you stand with guys like him, and you know where guys like him stand on issues.
Each chapter details the lives and heroism of its subjects. Offerman makes strong cases for each person he picked, and uses their gumption as a springboard for his own views on politics, religion, comedy, the environment, and a host of other issues.

Offerman is likable and his main points -- that we need to be people of courage and kindness -- are timely and poignant.
What I didn't like about the book is that Offerman takes the opportunity in nearly every chapter to lay out his case about the same few topics. Certain types of religious folks, especially evangelical Christians, are the subject of many of these rants. The other thing that I struggled with is that his modern heroes are all his buddies or folks he already admired in some way. He wasn't moved by discovery very often, so the reader doesn't get the thrill of discovery with him. I agree with him that this type of book is "necessarily subjective," but the later chapters lack the freshness and enthusiasm as the earlier ones, simply because more research and discovery were involved.

31 of 37 people found this review helpful

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loved his other books, skip this one

I'm a fan of the author. I have enjoyed his other works. However I was not a fan of this one. just too much mixing of subjective opinions and occasional facts. I prefer either opinions or facts. not both.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Inspirational

I am big fan of Nick Offerman and his works. Even more so now. I am not much of a reader, mainly because I find myself dozing off after a page or two of any book, so audio is definitely my favorite option. The author's voice is very pleasant I must say. -Nick, if things don't work out with Mr. Tweedy, I would gladly take his place. haha. However, I am also a heterosexual and married to and outstanding woman whom I still sometimes don't understand how I managed to land- While I cannot say I agree with 100% of his political views, I respect and can understand his opinions. And as I've learned, I feel the author would nod in approval. I enjoyed the bits of history and will be researching more about the lives of the people on his list.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding the importance of progressing the "togetherness of humankind". From this book, and his last, I have grow in maturity and have truly come to know myself better; or at least now I have a better way to explain how I really feel about religion and the world.

I rate this book a 5 across the board. Nick is a great story teller and I do hope he will be writing another soon.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Entertaining, but Offerman loses his way

Gumption is humorous. Not uproarious nor silly, neither cerebral nor aloof, the book is exactly what you'd expect from a self-aware, but decidedly out of touch celebrity.

Offerman is an entertaining writer, but he struggles to balance the character he has created for himself and the man behind his mask. In speaking of his character, I'm not referring to Ron Swanson, his famous alter-ego from "Parks & Recreation." Offerman has carefully crafted a character he portrays in public for television interviews and public appearances; he's a rugged individualist who prides himself on labor, craftsmanship and (somehow related) independent thought. He lauds such attributes in characters from America's past and some of his contemporaries.

It is when he gets to contemporary figures where he loses the plot. I love Conan O'Brien and find him to be a quite humorous man; I likewise think Wilco is brilliant. I can't, however, imagine a scenario where there accomplishments would be stacked up against America's "gutsiest troublemakers" like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin James Madison and Elenor Roosevelt. The gravitas of the opening chapters so greatly overshadows the relative lightweights of the closing cast of characters as to render the overall point of the book almost nullified. Too bad. It starts great, but ends weak.

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Joe
  • Indianapolis, IN, USA
  • 06-08-15

Buy it and listen, or buy it and don't. I recommend the former.

Funny, informative, and at times, thought provoking. I love the comedy of Nick Offerman, and I could listen to him tell stories until he falls over with exhaustion.

22 of 28 people found this review helpful

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Started out good but faded quickly

The first few chapters were fascinating and very well done. However the rest of the chapters devolved into sarcastic and left leaning political commentary. I couldn’t make it through the book.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Feels like a nice intelligent chat

Enjoyable and made me think
Less humor more thought than first book but overall still a great listen

17 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Why Nick, why?

I wanted to love this book. When it started to check the left wing ideologue boxes of intersectionalism I thought I could still like it, after all Offerman is a phenomenal performer and that shows up in the delivery. But why did you have to checklist every liberal ideal by chapter 4 when I admit, I stopped reading. Right after the part when he finds the 9/11 attacks justifiable considering the US foreign policy and calls the right to bear arms "clinging to our guns", which he finds understandable since all the people "we" have oppressed for so long could so reasonably rise up to kill all of "us". This book could have toned down the indoctrination by 50% and I would have enjoyed its preachiness, even though it is counter to my political persuasions. As is, it is mostly reading insults.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-29-16

A matter of taste

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the first half of this book a lot, Offerman is funny and it's always enjoyable to hear an irreverent take on historical characters.

My issue with the book is with the second half, where Offerman focuses on heroes from his own life. The humour is dropped almost entirely for an earnest homage to people who have been important in his life, mostly artists, writers and musicians and combined with a constant repetition of his somewhat cliche message that we should all live a simpler life.

This is fine, and some people will enjoy it I'm sure, but it's not clear from the description that half the book is stories about a load of contemporary artists that I have never heard of (bar Yoko) and probably wouldn't like anyway. Combined with the not-as-clever-as-he-thinks-it-is lifestyle messaging it was enough to stop me finishing the book.

One the plus side Offerman's narration is as excellent as you would expect and if the subject matter is to your taste you'll probably enjoy it a lot.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • swicketts
  • 01-18-17

a great listen

Nick Offermans book is brilliant, it's funny and informative, and he gives a great insight into the American hero's. I'd happily listen to nick read a phone book or maybe a menu

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Angieflibble
  • 12-03-16

Fascinating

I absolutely loved this book. The first half was filled with names I knew and stories about them I didn't. I'm not American so Eleanor Roosevelt was just a President's wife until this.

The second half of the book I was absolutely entranced by. There is nothing quite like listening to an enthusiast talk on their favourite subject. I find it utterly fascinating. If you had told me that I would have stayed sitting in the car listening to the end of a chapter on a guy who makes hand tools for woodwork I would have laughed in your face but somehow the genuine passion and respect that he has for the chosen subjects absolutely hooked me.

I have recommended this book to just about everyone I have spoken to since I finished it. I recommend it to you too.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Skegg
  • 08-04-15

One for Offerman / Swanson fans.

If you have read 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' or watched 'American Ham' and enjoyed them, this is one for you.

Essentially, Nick takes us through a selection of his American heroes who have displayed Gumption in their achievements. This starts with some of the the usual suspects in a few historical greats which I found interesting as an Englishman with a limited knowledge of American history and then takes us on a journey of more contemporary or obscure individuals, many of whom you will feel the need to discover more about. I can absolutely say that as a result of this book, I have a hunger to learn more about Frederick Douglass - what a legend!

I especially enjoyed Nick's reasons for choosing his subjects, not so much for what they achieved as how they achieved what they did.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I liked listening to something clearly aimed at Americans, but openly exploring some of the more shameful elements of American history and current affairs whilst openly celebrating those special things about the country and it's trailblazers. He has an honesty that I was not expecting and I found his writing quite refreshing.

I'd recommend this to anyone who liked Nick before, I suspect that you will like him (and probably the USA) even more when you have finished the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Juliette Pettit
  • 11-27-17

perfect workshop listening

listening to Nick talk about American history, of which I have very little knowledge, was pleasurable and made more so whilst in the workshop. Talking about tools that I was using at the time and selling the dream of your own water craft just made it all the better. It's a great listen.

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  • Bjornar Prestmo
  • 11-19-17

absolute wonderful.

There is just something very soothing and relaxing about mr. Offermans voice talking about hand tools and people he admires. it really shines through.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-17

A good book ruined by progressive politics.. again

Offerman is a dream to listen to, however he has a compulsion to go on at length about how evil America and Christianity is or has been. He promotes the gender wage gap myth and rattles off progressive nonsense for what feels like an eternity. To his credit he does briefly mention the human rights violations in the middle East.

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  • Howard E.
  • 07-17-16

Brilliant

Brilliantly written and spoken by a true wordsmith, an insightful look into Nick's American heroes. Thoughtful as well as thought provoking....such an enjoyable listen that I feel saddened to have reached the epilogue...look forward to his next work...H

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  • Uthred
  • 03-18-16

Excellent

Loved every minute. Was an interesting listen and educational as well as being not only entertaining but in parts, down right funny.

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  • Adrianne Jerrett
  • 09-03-16

Inspiring

I think this book has something for everyone and contains important lessons and ponderings we all need to hear. The stories of the people contained in this book are bound to inspire you to find your own gumption. I know they have helped encourage me and solidified my motivation to follow my passions instead of trudging through my day job forever. Thank you for this collection of stories compiled in a witty manner Nick. Thank yoy

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jdk
  • 02-27-17

Wise, Funny, Inspiring

Mr Offerman, in his book gumption selects a cabal of America's best to whimsically suggest a path forward in this age of alt-virtue.

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  • Anne Garland
  • 07-31-16

terrible

don't bother. boring
just found the book to a total waste of time and waste of money

0 of 4 people found this review helpful