America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction

By Jon Stewart, Thomas Jefferson, Steve Bodow

93,933 ratings - 3.99* vote ExclusivesFeaturing a foreword by Thomas Jefferson, a Dress the Supreme Court layout, and, oddly enough, a profile of George "The Iceman" Gervin, America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, from Jon Stewart and the writers of the Emmy Award-winning The Daily Show, is by far one the most irreverent and wittiest (and may we add smartest) political ExclusivesFeaturing a foreword by Thomas Jefferson, a Dress the Supreme Court layout, and,

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Book details

Hardcover, 227 pages
September 20th 2004 by Grand Central Publishing

(first published May 18th 2004)

Original Title
America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction
0641869789 (ISBN13: 9780641869785)

Community Reviews

Jason Koivu

America (The Book) is not the Daily Show, but it's damn close.

This is one of those cases where it might seem like a good idea to listen to the audiobook and hear the actors' deliveries in order to mimic the feeling of watching the tv show as much as possible. However, then you'd miss out on the high school textbook mock-up layout and that's missing half the point.

A Citizen's Guid to Democracy Inaction is modeled after a civics class text replete with horrible study guides, misguided questions, those pop-out boxes for more incorrect information, etc and also etc. It's all one big lampoon of laughter and I loved it!

Yes, it can sometimes be silly in a juvenile way...

“It's not that the Democrats are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing chess. It's that the Republicans are playing chess and the Democrats are in the nurse's office because once again they glued their balls to their thighs.”

And its insight isn't exactly mindblowing (or is it?)...

“If "con" is the opposite of pro, then isn't Congress the opposite of progress? Or did we just fucking blow your mind?!?”

However, occasionally a particularly spot-on, cutting remark is made...

“Classroom Activities
1. Using felt and yarn, make a hand puppet of Clarence Thomas. Ta-da! You're Antonin Scalia!”

Stewart and crew roast the U.S. Government time and again, so as you could imagine, it's a great read for Jon Stewart Show fans, it's also a good one for liberals in general and a tolerable one for Republicans who can take a joke.


I really associate this book with the lead-up to and outcome of the last presidential election, and so while I remember really enjoying this a lot at the time I read it, every time I look at it now I get a heavy, sick feeling deep in my bowels, and I kind of feel like killing myself. It makes me flash back to riding the train around for work on November 3, 2004 with one of the most soul-crushing, emotionally annihilating hangovers I've ever had in my life. I remember staring at an excerpt of Yeats's "Second Coming" hanging up on one of those little poetry-on-the-subway ads, just numbly reading the lines over and over and listening to Nina Simone singing "Oh Child" on my headphones, and periodically starting to sob.

It was a bad day and, I think, an important developmental milestone. I mean, these past four years haven't really been so bad, have they? Well, for some others, yeah, but not for me. I really felt like that was the end of the world. I also felt this profound alienation from the rest of my country that was painful but probably necessary.

Anyway, so somehow I associate this book with that time, and with seeing ole Chuck Schumer on the Daily Show a couple days later, just regurgitating the same old exhausted, embarrassing garbage -- "What the American People really want is what the Democratic Party has been offering them all along" -- and Jon Stewart practically shaking him, being like, "Don't you fucking GET it, retard??? Have you been in a COMA all week???? Obviously they DON'T!!! What are you SAYING? What is WRONG with you people????" And Schumer just being like, "Er, well, um... uh....?"

Anyway, so this book, while funny, really depresses me. Maybe I won't take it with me when I move.

J.G. Keely

I know Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, and Colbert are more honest and reliable news sources than the rest of the media, I just don't believe it.

Ironically, it is that same gap between knowledge and belief that has resulted in this sad state.

the reactionary, opinionated pundits keep talking down to these little basic-cable comedy shows, but the fact that their feathers are so ruffled shows that they are afraid, and that they consider this to be as serious as the rest of us.

Why is Stewart the journalist who asks hard questions about the war? Why does he seem utterly ridiculous when he simply imitates real people? Why is Colbert the one who asked the senator who tried to put the ten commandments in his state courthouses (Lynn Westmoreland) just what they actually were, showing that the senator could name only three?

More importantly, why doesn't this invigorate or upset anyone? Colbert's White House Press Corp address was the most impressive and honest satire on the state of our politics and the media who serve them. The fact that it was the only one should not diminish it.

The world is gone mad. If Revelation is come, I can only hope that even bad Christians get to go to heaven, because I don't want to be stuck here with the likes of Bush and Westmoreland. If I didn't have a front seat to the odd implosion of American culture, I might think about moving to Canada.

Oh yes, and Reuters has been bought out.


A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. Note - the last word is not a mistake.


The greatest democracy in the world is explained to people who live in it, or don't understand it, or fear it

Ch. 1: Democracy Before America
Ch. 2: The Founding of America
Ch. 3: The President: King of Democracy
Ch. 4: Congress: Quagmire of Freedom
Ch. 5: The Judicial Branch: It Rules
Ch. 6: Campaigns and Elections: America Changes the Sheets
Ch. 7: The Media: Democracy's Guardian Angels (retitled two pages later as "The Media: Democracy's Valiant Vulgarians")
Ch. 8: The Future of Democracy: Four Score and Seven Years from Now
Ch. 9: The Rest of the World: International House of Horrors


Bow down before me. I am your new president and I can . . um . . er
The president, no matter how much he wants to, cannot 'make' laws, unless of course he calls it a police action. We also learn that "Did you know" is copyrighted by a competing publishing company, so our little sidenotes always begin with "Were You Aware?". There is a also a lovely map that shows (in the familiar boardgame fashion) how to become President, and how to stay President once you are there.


What if . .
.if Betsy Ross were alive and sewing American flags today, she'd be a 13-year-old Laotian boy.

Historical inaccuracies, gross distortions, complete fabrications have been corrected by a real-life bearded college professor. And if you believe this then I have a bridge to sell you



Published on my book blog.

I'm a big fan of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, but for some reason I'd never felt curious to read any of their books until this year. I considered starting with Earth (the book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race, but thought I'd go through this older one first.

I have to admit, when I started I was a bit taken aback. I don't know what I expected, but the first chapter ("Democracy before America") was written with such an unapologetic disregard for History that I couldn't even find it funny, at first. However, once the initial "shock" had passed, this book got really funny. It's opinionated, scandalous, hilarious, and so spot-on that my bittersweet feeling of not knowing whether to laugh or get depressed was sustained throughout the whole book.

This is presented in the form of an educational book for children, and since the content couldn't be further away from that demographic, it's doubly funny to see "helpful" diagrams, maps, games and illustration to help the reader understand a little better this wonderful but deeply flawed thing we call Democracy.

Highly recommended. Read with an open mind!


I have lost track of the number of pristine copies of this book I have found on the side of the road.

I have also lost track of the total quantity of marijuana I have broken up upon the pristine copy of this book I decided to take home.

I have also lost track of where said copy ever went. It's really the ideal surface/size for all your joint-rolling needs.

And no, I never bothered to read the damn book. We were too busy getting high and watching True Blood or pretending to read Winterson.

Winter, son.


This was a quick read, I hate politics and find it boring and full of nonsensical bull****, but I enjoyed this book and even though it is full of slanderous lies I feel I have learnt quite a bit. It also raises some important questions like

"If con is the opposite of pro, then is congress the opposite of progress?"

Most interesting to me was the layout of the judicial system, from lower courts to the Supreme court, all previous knowledge on this subject was gained from watching Boston Legal, I now have a deeper understanding of their treatment of judges.

Give this book a go and soon you'll be just like me and ready to start your own democracy, as the final words in the book say..."Just smash the concepts laid out in this book together and you'll already have something better than North Korea". Who's with me?


I listened to the audio version of this book on both legs of a cross-country trip. I'll warn others who are thinking of doing the same that you will either be stifling your laughter to not bother your neighbors, or you will be laughing out loud and looking mighty strange. Hearing Jon Stewart's narration of the text, with his perfect timing, made this a very enjoyable listen. Some of the humor just came from crassness i.e. the thought of Patrick Henry calling someone "fucknuts," but for the most part, this was incredibly on the mark satire. The chapter on Campaigns was so eerily spot-on for this recent election, its hard to believe it was written a few years ago. Highly recommended!

Pris robichaud

I Laughed, I Cried,, I Wept A Little, and Laughed Again, 19 Nov 2006

"This book has many fine qualities, but its cavalier disregard for accuracy of quotations, its insufficient scholarly documentation, its often quixotic use of illustrations, and its frequent usage of inappropriate language and word choices all detract from its virtues. With just a little more attention to detail, (well, in some cases, considerably more attention to detail), this book would stand as a first-rate addition to the literature." Prof. Stanley Schultz, Evaluation

In 2004 'America, The Book" was let loose on the general public and gobbled up (pardon, but it is almost Thanksgiving) thousands of missives. However, much has changed in the past two years, and the authors have written a sequel, for 'teachers', or those most learned. As the authors say, "A sires of well-publicized scandals have called into question the very meaning of such terms as 'plagiarism', 'authenticity' and 'three-year crack binge'. In one of the paradigm shifts that periodically sweep the publishing world, truth has become this year's bullshit." They added Professor Schultz's notations on every page and sometimes his notations are the page. All in all, this book has the makings of the US History Book for all ages.

Where to begin to describe this book, to shed a little light for those who unsuspecting buy the book and become part of the confused masses. To begin with there is a 'Timeline of Democracy' from Stonehenge through 1621 when the Plymouth Rock became too crowded and the Pilgrims left. The Founding of America, chapter 2 is filled with many mistakes, don't read it. Chapter 3 The president: King of Democracy has a few good points but go directly to chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7. The Congress, The Judicial Branch, Campaigns and Elections and The Media. Anything and everything you ever did not want to know is included here. You may never vote again after reading these chapters, but so be it. Chapters 8 and 9, The Future of Democracy and The Rest of the World are to be read immediately, maybe start with these chapters and work backwards like the politicians do.

Jon Stewart and his cronies, mmhmm, writers have penned a marvelous book full of lies and deceit. Some useful information may be gleaned if you look hard enough. Thomas Jefferson wrote the forward and that may be the most important piece of writing in the entire missive. I do recommend this book to all serious students of history and those who are not serious at all. For everyone and don't forget the teachers.

Warily recommended for intelligentsia.. Heartily recommended for the rest of us.
prisrob 11/19./06.

Kelly H. (Maybedog)

This book taught me many things. It taught me that American History and Government is very boring. It taught me that even an hilarious parody of American History and Government cannot make the subject interesting. It taught me that it's not easy to get a good posed picture of an eagle. It also taught me that I am even more ignorant of popular culture than I think I am because there were some jokes I didn't get. I also learned that Stephen Colbert can look adorable in almost anything, even sadomasochism leathers.

The book is a spoof of text books and a scathing social satire at the same time. The writers and editors were brilliantly creative, using a plethora of different ways (without using Powerpoint) to convey information to make us laugh. Edward R. Tufte would be proud. There were charts, graphs, maps, photos, polls, a pull out poster, discussion questions, sidebars, quotes, forms, games, paper dolls, drawings, scans, quizzes, even a flip book. Visually, the book was extremely appealing. The jokes were fresh and funny and I even laughed out loud at times.

But American History is still boring.