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Publisher's Summary

In closely reported stories from the streets of New York to the seats of intellectual power, MacDonald shows how bad ideas get started and then acquire a life of their own. Her reports trace the transformation of influential opinion-makers and large philanthropic foundations from confident advocates of individual responsibility, opportunity, and learning into apologists for the welfare state.

The prevailing orthodoxy of ideas, she finds, has affected our schools with ruinous consequences for our children. While these beliefs have damaged the nation as a whole, she observes, they have hit the poor especially hard. When it comes to urban problems and social policy, The Burden of Bad Ideas is more than a breath of fresh air. It's a cold shower.

©2000 Heather MacDonald (P)2001 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Anna Fields has a rich, womanly voice. She brings every anecdote to life, careening from fiery indignation to icy sarcasm and back again." (AudioFile)
"Spirited, stimulating essays....Vivid and devastating....Social, cultural and political criticism of the first order." (Washington Post)
"Provocative...even when you disagree with her you recognize that her viewpoint must be thoughtfully considered and countered." (Wall Street Journal)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mike
  • St. Louis Park, MN, USA
  • 05-03-05

Shining the cold light of truth . . .

Liberals will definitely NOT like this book as it exposes their moral house of cards for what it is. Heather McDonald paints a stark picture of the current state of American social policy - a policy that's been hijacked by multi-cultural and diversity fetishists from the 60?s for whom theory always trumps real-world experience. With clear and specific examples, Ms. McDonald shows how radical leftist social engineers have been able to create a social system completely devoid of any notion of personal responsibility. By elevating identity politics, racial chauvinism and radical feminism above common sense, the liberal elite in academia and government have helped to create a self-destructive culture of entitlement and moral relativism that has hurt those they condescendingly claim to speak for: minorities and the American underclass. The results are disturbing: a perpetual cycle of dependence, the destruction of the inner city, and the destruction of the nuclear family (especially the African American family). An absolute must read!

16 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Moderate not a big fan either

The greatest flaw I find in the intellectual liberal and conservative is the need to demonize the opposite camp. While there is no doubt that the facts presented are accurate, there is little balance or objectivity, which makes this presentation about the same as the liberal rhetoric it abhores.

9 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Intelligent content; so-so narration.

Would you consider the audio edition of The Burden of Bad Ideas to be better than the print version?


What three words best describe Anna Fields’s voice?

Flat, unethusiastic, droning

Any additional comments?

The content and commentary of this book are not would I would like to comment on. What I want to caution potential purchasers of this audiobook about is the narrator. She is flat and unenthusiastic, does not use inflection well, doesn't appear to have read the book prior to reading it aloud, and her voice is virtually duotonous. Many times she paused in the wrong placed and didn't pause where she could have for emphasis, nor did use inflection on words or phrases or clauses where she could have to better hold the listener's attention and keep him engaged.

Thankfully, the author of this book has a fluid and clear writing style, so the droning narration did not ruin the book too badly. The narration is not so bad that this audiobook is not worth purchasing, but I found myself buying a Kindle version of the book to follow along with on my iPad when I found myself unintentionally tuning out due to the "Charlie Brown's teacher"-style narration. With non-fiction subjects such as this one that are essentially just long essays, they can be read in a professorial or enthusiastic way that will hold the listener's attention, much as any public speaker worth his salt would do when delivering a long speech. The narration could be worse, but could be much more lively and enthusiastic, too. Based on the numerous errors made when narrating (stopping at commas, e.g.), I don't think the narrator actually read and familiarized herself with the book before reading it--which is inexcusable seeing as how the book is only 235pps or so.

I would say that I highly recommend this audiobook based on its intelligent content and commentary, and the clear, straighforward, fluid way the book is written, but I would urge caution (and highly recommend trying the sample) due to the narration.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Adam
  • Tampa Bay, Fl
  • 04-21-05

Buying this book was a bad idea!

Within the first 12 min of this audio book this ?author? blames all the flaws of our (American) society on ?liberals? and the ?intellectual elites?.

Rather odd considering the fact that she:
1. graduated from Yale, Summa Cum Laude.
2. did her graduate studies at Cambridge University.
3. received her J.D. from Stanford University Law School.
4. actually won an Outstanding Intellectual Achievement award.

Oh yeah, she is also a frequent guest on Fox News. Need I say more?

This is a kinder, sweeter, gentler Ann Coulter - but far less entertaining.

Needless to say, don?t take this book seriously.

13 of 51 people found this review helpful