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July 29, 2020

Book Review How To Destroy America in Three Easy Steps by Ben Shapiro

Ben Shapiro speaks in a kind of staccato rat-a-tat-tat, like he’s machine gunning you with his ideas. Consider it a simultaneous exercise of both his first and second amendment rights.

Since he narrates this, his latest book, How To Destroy America in Three Easy Steps, this style of delivery is a consideration if you’re listening to the audio version, as I did, less so if you happen to be literate and are reading it instead.

That said, while I thought the delivery style might grow tiresome, it doesn’t. I’m a bit of a fast talker myself, and when listening to a slow talker find myself wanting to reach down his or her throat and yank the words out.

Do that with Ben Shapiro, and you lose a hand.

Most authors benefit from having a professional narrator read their book for them. It is a separate skill set after all. (Although not foolproof, I have passed on certain audiobooks because I did not like the narrator.)  But Shapiro is an accomplished speaker and so it works just fine here.

Enough about style, what about the content?

I didn’t know a ton about Shapiro before reading this book, and really still don’t much beyond the confines of its pages (okay, kilobytes), but I have been lectured to by my betters in the media that he is VERY CONTROVERSIAL, which I suppose he is, if by “very controversial” you mean, “considers America to be not a particularly terrible place.”

Great, I think I need a safe space now.  And counseling.  Counseling in a safe space would be perfect. And have all my student loans paid off.  And a pony.

But I digress.

America being something other than awful, and that we are better off moving forward together guided by the country's founding principles, is essentially his message. He does not sugarcoat the past, in fact he recites it in brutal fashion, but he rejects the notion that the country was built on racism or white supremacy or any of the other charges made by revisionist historians, but rather makes the argument that the country was founded on enduring principles of freedom and equality, and it has been those very principles that have provided the moral foundation for an enslaved people to be freed, for a civil rights movement to have been embraced by both black and white alike, indeed, for every good thing this country has produced.

He has consistently held this view for many years, however it is recast in this book pitting what he calls the “Unionists” vs. the “Disintegrationists,” the latter of which seek to tear down the country and split it along racial and other lines familiar with those who peddle in identity politics. He proceeds to outline the “three easy steps” the disintegrationists are using to accomplish their aims.

You could dismiss this as basically the publishing version of clickbait, and it is an undeniably catchy headline, but it creates a workable framework to discuss the subject and works just fine in this book.

I will note I’m not fond of the term, “disintegrationist," which I believe he coined. First, it’s really a pain to type. Second, it’s just an ugly word. It makes sense for what he’s trying to say, but it’s almost the kind of thing you use early in a draft because you can’t think of anything better and then you forget to go back and change it. (BTDT)

That’s a nit, but really, I hate the word. Do I have a better word? No. No I do not. 

Splitter-Upperer?

Okay, no, definitely not.

My weird obsession with the word “disintegrationist” aside (gah, had to type it again!) the book is well written and well argued. Ben Shapiro has considered these matters at length and presents a cogent and documented argument.  You don’t need to agree with every point in the book (or every statement he has ever made on Twitter) to profit from reading this book.

One final note for those of you who get the audio version. Shapiro does impressions for some of the politicians he quotes. I had not expected it, so I at first thought it was just unnecessary mockery, but he’s actually pretty good and does a decent Clinton and Obama. My favorite though is his surfer dude take on Beto O’Rourke, ending every quote with “brah.”  In the end I thought it was fine and actually helps distinguish these quotes from the text of the book, not always obvious when you’re listening instead of reading.

All said and done, I recommend this book highly to any free thinker. Yes, America has problems, always did and always will, and yes, it has a blemished and at times deeply disturbing past, but it is not unique among countries in that respect. It is, after all, populated by humans. But its uniqueness is grounded in its founding principles, which animates its onward march, winding though it may be at times, towards the creation of “a more perfect union.”

J.

You can purchase the book, in multiple formats, right here (or through the graphic above) if you like. This is an affiliate link, costs you nothing but helps us out (and thank you for that). Full explanation of affiliate links can be round in the right sidebar towards the bottom.

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July 29, 2020 at 09:52 AM in Books | Permalink

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