Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Don't Vote by P.J. O'Rourke

Do you ever find reading things makes you physically uncomfortable? Reading rape scenes in books usually does that to me. So did this book, oddly. The spun out half-truths and fallacies made me a little ill. Needless to say, I didn't care for this book too much.

Don't Vote is O'Rourke's attempt to humorously describe all kinds of facets of politics in America. His main message, other than pushing his political bias, is that government is too big and full of flawed people. This book won't teach you anything, I didn't find it remarkably entertaining, and it is full of spite and spinning of the truth.

O'Rourke has a formula for his humor, at least in this book, which is the first and last thing of his I am planning on reading! He takes analogies really far. That's it, that's the humor in this book. It was mildly amusing to me at first, but got really old once I had noticed the formula.

I bought this book after hearing about it on NPR. O'Rourke came on the show and read the chapter on climate change. It's about a page long and I found it to be mildly amusing and fairly insightful. As far as I can tell, it's the most/only insightful part of the book. I recommend you read this by going to your bookstore and reading the climate change chapter (starts on page 149 in my copy) and not actually buy the book.

Here are some fairly representative samples of things that made me go, "wait, what??" while reading this book. I could elaborate, and these don't touch on his major fallacies.
...terrorism is not... just a product of left-wing politics and its offshoot fascism. (p 181)

Gun ownership is crucial to the preservation of American freedoms. We may have to shoot Democrats. It happened in 1861 and it could happen again. (p 165)

So if you think analogies taken really far are hilarious, and the quotes above amuse or comfort you, you might actually like this book. I did not. My brief foray into reading political books ends now.

Emily pointed out to me that leaving out what this guy's political position is makes it harder for any readers of this blog (are there any readers of this blog?) to judge whether or not they would enjoy it. OK, he's a libertarian/conservative. He complains about tea-baggers, republicans, etc. but mostly about democrats.

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