How to Destroy America in Three Easy Steps by Ben Shapiro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I thought this was a really interesting read.
Certain terms, phrases, dates, historical figures, and U.S./world events can get confusing to me, some things I forget over time, some I don’t always feel I can articulate well to other people much less sort them in my mind when engaging in conversation. So I’m always trying to find ways to stimulate my mind, move from vague notions and memorization to practical application and meaning to daily life. This book helped to clarify and connect a lot of concepts for me.
Here’s how I organized this review.
Readership recommendation. Audiobook. The writing style. Tone. Book organization. Personal interest/relevancy. Credibility. Subjects of interest. Questions to ask.
I’d recommend this book to anyone. Whether you’re seeking to understand U.S. history as a citizen, expat, or foreigner, a student, a casual learner looking for an accessible review of history or historical refresher, anyone looking to solidify their thoughts and knowledge of certain subjects, or anyone seeking clarification of how U.S. history, founded on certain principles and culture, plays out in today’s climate.
I listened to it via audiobook, narrated by the author, which was excellent and I’d highly recommend. There was a lot packed into this 6-hour long book. He talked rather fast, as in running words together, but it was clearest for me at 0.9x speed, so I actually quite enjoyed listening because I did like the fast pacing of concepts as they come to his mind in the way he explained them following up and qualifying instantaneously if that makes sense. Though I did find myself still hitting replay of the previous 15 seconds button several times throughout the book so I could grasp the words and absorb the sentiments better. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I understood exactly when he was stating opposing viewpoints/opinions or not, though some were quite animated by impressions or quotes that were easier to pick out, though some were a bit silly, both hilarious and silly I suppose.
The writing style.
It was a very inviting, conversational approach to writing. Proposing questions, exploring alternative/opposing viewpoints/endings from a philosophical standpoint, rationales. I liked the format.
Based on my interpretation of the title and description, I thought there possibly could be an underlying negative tone, is the U.S. doomed to fail, feeling throughout the book, possibly focusing on negative or opposing opinions of today and debating them into an oblivion of despair.
But it was actually quite hopeful and refreshing to explore U.S. philosophy, culture, and history and what the founders wanted to achieve at the time and what can be celebrated today. And to whom, in essence, achieved a certain timelessness to the principles, time they spent putting their ideas and words into a physical document to stand for the foreseeable future as a society moving forward in an era where such concepts were actually quite unique, radical, and well-developed for the time, even compared to other countries today.
I liked how the book was organized. It outlined in both a time-wise fashion and topical discussion simultaneously, depicting key dates and principles and culture that were key to the founding and development as a country we know today. With a recapping of ideas for each chapter conclusion, letting me know I absorbed something.
When it comes to certain key events in history, I like to know what other people around the world were doing. I like to know what my grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents were doing. I also like to connect pop culture, certain advancements, novel ideas, and inventions to events of the time and he touched on some of these things I seek out which made the social outlook and political reasoning much more personal and solidified in my mind. I’d like to see more maps and timelines cross-referencing and depicting things like this, I don’t know if there were any in the book because I had the audiobook version, maybe I missed out.
I’m a cross-checker and I love research. The author did a good job providing supporting data, citing them, and then explaining what about U.S. history is true, both in realities and intentions of forethought, and what was actually applied. What some of the myths and misnomers are. I liked the multiple historical and relational examples he gave, which were detailed enough to bridge the concepts, but also weren’t academically dry or belabored to read.
I gleaned a lot and you may glean a lot from the book if learning about any of these topics appeal to you:
Speech policing/censorship, emotional sensitivity, religious freedom/protection, racism, affirmative action, tribalism, tyranny, secular universalism, monopolies, union power, risk aversion, boycotting, shifting policies pressure, Industrial Revolution, white/black women income gaps, The 1619 Project, 3/5th Compromise, social media mobbing, the human soul, reason, natural law, and eternal ideals.
Questions to ask.
I gained understanding and you may gain understanding in the interpretation of founding documents (especially as it relates to legal interpretation and social implications), by asking questions such as:
-Why did founders seek to build the country in such a way anyway?
-What is meant by Western civilization settling and who determines what that society should look like?
-Does humanity have a need for community and thus a need for communal standards?
-How is freedom and virtue defined?
-Should the government be enforcing virtue?
-What should the expectation be for individual rights VS communal self-control?
-How does bringing forth the freedom and prosperity of the past and today compare to any other country or civilization in history?
-What is the theme of The Declaration of Independence?
-What does it represent at the very core?
-Was it intended to be an allegiance to ideals?
-What was the intention of the U. S. Constitution? Was it mean to be the protector of rights or the source of them?
-Where/how are rights sourced?
-What is the difference between the scope and capacity of rights?
-What does it mean to have a democracy with limited government involvement?
-What is the role of government in our lives?
-How can society achieve a balance of power between people and the government?
-What internal checks are in place to prevent imbalance of power?
-What about competing values?
-What is the difference between a backdrop of an event or figure compared to the motivating idea put forth?
-Was U.S. wealth dependent on slavery?
-What was the first country to abolish slavery? The last? First existence and what forms of slavery exist today?
-Why exactly did the South lose the Civil War?
-Why did it occur/what were the contributing factors to the Civil War in the first place?
-Why was slavery not a written abolishment in The Declaration of Independence?
-Is the U.S. embracing diversity more than ever?
-What is the difference between disparity and discrimination?
-What is the difference between restorative discrimination and equal protection of the law?
-What are the liberties and requirements of mankind?
-What is the measurement of success in obtaining freedoms as written in the constitution and is it a moving target?
I’ll leave it at that and say I learned a lot. I think other readers will glean a lot from this book and find it to be stimulating no matter what origin, background, worldview, or position held on any of the subject matter.
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