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In Defense of Elitism

Why I'm Better Than You and You're Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book
Narrated by: Joel Stein
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: Comedy, Satire
4.5 out of 5 stars (141 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The night Donald Trump won the presidency, our author Joel Stein, Thurber Prize finalist and former staff writer for Time Magazine, instantly knew why. The main reason wasn't economic anxiety or racism. It was that he was anti-elitist. Hillary Clinton represented Wall Street, academics, policy papers, Davos, international treaties, and the people who think they're better than you. People like Joel Stein. Trump represented something far more appealing, which was beating up people like Joel Stein.

In a full-throated defense of academia, the mainstream press, medium-rare steak, and civility, Joel Stein fights against populism. He fears a new tribal elite is coming to replace him, one that will fend off expertise of all kinds and send the country hurtling backward to a time of wars, economic stagnation, and the well-done steaks doused with ketchup that Trump eats.

To find out how this shift happened and what can be done, Stein spends a week in Roberts County, Texas, which had the highest percentage of Trump voters in the country. He goes to the home of Trump-loving Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams; meets people who create fake news; and finds the new elitist organizations merging both right and left to fight the populists. All the while using the biggest words he knows.

©2019 Joel Stein (P)2019 Grand Central Publishing

Critic Reviews

"With this indispensable book, Joel Stein firmly establishes himself as the Ted Nugent of elitism." (Andy Borowitz, New York Times best-selling author and writer of The Borowitz Report)

"Every paragraph of this book will make you laugh, but it will also (I promise) change the way you think. Joel has written a brilliant exploration of the supposed divide between elites and populists, cleverly disguised as a humorous personal excursion. Like Don Quixote he forays into perilous territory, his lance at his side, and what he finds will surprise you. Deeply reported and poignant, with a light touch of sweet self-awareness, his journey can help us all take our minds to a better place." (Walter Isaacson, New York Times best-selling author of Leonardo Da Vinci and Steve Jobs)

"Joel Stein is a condescending bastard, but he's also very funny, insightful and correct. This book is a crucial argument for the importance of expertise in this world that increasingly rejects it. As Stein points out, it may feel good to go with the gut or follow popular opinion, but it does have its downsides. Like, for instance, causing a planetary apocalypse." (A. J. Jacobs, New York Times best-selling author of The Year of Living Biblically and The Know-It-All)

"In this hilarious refereeing of the culture wars, former Time columnist Stein roams America studying wealthy, Ivy league-educated, conference-attending elites and their populist detractors...Stein's excellent reportage keeps the ideology light and is full of one-liners...that generously skew everyone. The result is an insightful, uproarious take on America's political divide." (Publishers Weekly starred review)

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    5 out of 5 stars

A wake up call for the intelligent.

High IQ? Successful? Annoyed by stupid people? If you said yes to all three, this is a book that will have you nodding, laughing, and then groaning at how much you find yourself agreeing with John Stein's self assessment of how and why smart people are failing at elevating American society. It's a wake up call for the intelligent or as Stein calls them "the elite" who are in the "the loop." Start the discussion on how to connect society issues but using this book to first become self aware of how you're part of the problem (insert groan here). Ugh, Stein is right.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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very funny binge worthy

excellent narrative on the people from either side of the class divide that polarizes modern American politics

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Love

My parents kept a Time subscription and every month I’d flip directly to Joel Stein’s page and read his beautiful, funny writing and probably did better academically because of exposure to it. Just happened to follow him on fb and got notified of his new book. Joel is still funny and smart. His book is in his exploration of other minded people and draws thoughtful points in understanding our nucleus of a country. Listening to Joel on audio was also enjoyable, and the only person who could do the job.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

I didn’t think there would be enough material to fill an entire book based on the title. I was happily surprised. I really enjoyed it, truly hysterical book, but also thought-provoking. Highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Funny, Smart and Humble

I don’t know much about Joel Stein and have been tired of listening to the doom and gloom political books that I’ve downloaded lately.

Although I think analysis of the current administration is important, I needed some humor that also gives me hope we can get out of the downward spiral of tribalism.

I don’t know that this book has me convinced that’ll happen anytime soon, but I enjoyed every second and laughed the whole way through. I truly think anyone on any side can enjoy this and hope many do.

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Not what I thought but better

I got the book because I wanted to hear the case for the other side. I expected some arrogant condescending intellectual argument. The book is funny and way more open to both sides that I would’ve thought. I still don’t fully agree with the author but there’s probably something wrong with anyone who agrees with everything somebody else says.

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funny and informative

I enjoyed this book quite a lot. It's funny and also informative about perspective of both sides of the liberalism versus for populists divide. Seems to be written from a liberalist perspective, I'd be intrested to know how trump supporters feel this book may have informed them.

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Not Great

I heard him being interviewed and liked the idea of the book enough to buy it. Unfortunately it didn't deliver. He's slightly annoying to listen to since he's all about the jokes but no real substance. The book had an opportunity to be thought-provoking, which I really thought his podcast interview was (The Goop), but wow, I wasted a credit with this one. Whatevs

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Brilliant Assessment, with Laugh-Out-Loud Humor

I was captivated by this book. Stein is a masterful storyteller, leading the reader along a journey of discovery into the face and root cause of populism in the US and how we ‘intellectual elites’ have fueled a culture war by scolding and looking down on those who don’t share our views. Stein casts himself as protagonist in self effacing humor and makes the earnest case for more listening, less judging and more restraint. I loved listening to his narration - I couldn’t put it down!

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Super funny!

Joel thinks The Death of Expertise is better. I disagree. Joel's book is really funny and doesn't default to today's standard gaslighting of young people. I'll give this as a gift over the holidays.