The Assault on Reason

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The Assault on Reason
The Assault on Reason.jpg
Author Al Gore
Language English
Publisher Penguin Press
Publication date
May 22, 2007
Pages 308
ISBN 1-59420-122-6
OCLC 81252666
Dewey Decimal 973.931 22
LC Class E902 .G67 2007

The Assault on Reason is a 2007 book written by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. In the book, Gore argues that there is a trend in U.S. politics toward ignoring facts and analysis when making policy decisions. He heavily criticizes the George W. Bush administration for its actions in furthering the "assault on reason", and also the Congress, the judiciary, and the press for being complicit in the process. Gore also suggests the average citizen must be proactive in "restoring democracy". He expresses hopes that the medium of the Internet will supersede television and what he argues is its inherent bias, creating a "marketplace of ideas" that has not been present since the replacement of the printed word with mass media.

The book ranked number one on the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover nonfiction during the first four weeks of its release, and was on the list top 35 for fifteen weeks.[1] Actor Will Patton narrates the audio version.

Book reviews[edit]

The May 21, 2007 review in Publishers Weekly states:

[Gore] argues, the 'open and free public discussion and debate... central to the operation of our democracy' that has always been supported by a free and accessible press is now threatened by television, with its one-way, entertainment-oriented communication and concentrated ownership, coupled with political exploitation of the mass media to instill a 'politics of fear.' Drawing from diverse disciplines, including history, neuroscience, and immune system research, and philosophers ranging from Aristotle, Adam Smith, Thomas Paine, Frederick Douglass and Hannah Arendt, Gore argues that the decentralized, text-oriented internet, which empowers individuals to form communities and publish their own video clips, is 'perhaps the greatest source of hope for reestablishing an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish.'[2]

Michiko Kakutani, in a May 22, 2007 review for The New York Times, wrote:

Part civics lesson, part political jeremiad, part philosophical tract, The Assault on Reason reveals an angry, impassioned Al Gore – a far cry from the carefully scripted, earth-tone-wearing Al Gore of the 2000 presidential campaign and the programmed “creature of Washington” described in the reporter Bill Turque’s 2000 biography of him, “Inventing Al Gore.” Much the way that the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” showed a more accessible Al Gore – at ease with himself and passionate about the dangers of global warming – this book shows a fiery, throw-caution-to-the winds Al Gore, who, whether or not he runs for the White House again, has decided to lay it all on the line with a blistering assessment of the Bush administration and the state of public discourse in America at this “fateful juncture” in history. ...In “The Assault on Reason” Al Gore excoriates George W. Bush, asserting that the president is “out of touch with reality,” that his administration is so incompetent that it “can’t manage its own way out of a horse show,” that it ignored “clear warnings” about the terrorist threat before 9/11 and that it has made Americans less safe by “stirring up a hornets’ nest in Iraq,” while using “the language and politics of fear” to try to “drive the public agenda without regard to the evidence, the facts or the public interest."[3]

The "Algorian Chanters" walked on the sidewalks rather than the street during Seattle, Washington's 2007 Fremont Solstice Parade, possibly because their oversized mock-ups of Al Gore's The Assault on Reason technically violated the parade's rule against signs with legible text.

Joe Conason, in a May 22, 2007 review for the Los Angeles Times, wrote:

In The Assault on Reason, [Gore] lingers over those well-worn topics and others, employing the same didactic method that used to provoke irritation or even ridicule during his hotly contested presidential campaign. Yet Gore's professorial style, with its touches of sarcasm, omniscient tone, erudite asides, and yes, its occasional exasperated sighs, elicits a different response today than it did seven years ago. Many of the same publications that once poured scorn on him now offer up paragraph after paragraph of admiring prose.[4]

Alan Ehrenhalt, in a May 27, 2007 review for The Washington Post, wrote:

The Assault on Reason is a serious work by an intelligent man with an incurable habit of calling more attention to himself than to the ideas he wishes to communicate. It is worth reading, but it is maddening. In one respect, however, it is entirely satisfying: Unlike virtually all other books bearing the names of prominent politicians, this one raises no serious questions about its authorship. Only Al Gore could possibly have written it.[5]

David Brooks, in a May 29, 2007 column for New York Times, wrote:

Gore’s imperviousness to reality is not the most striking feature of the book. It’s the chilliness and sterility of his worldview. Gore is laying out a comprehensive theory of social development, but it allows almost no role for family, friendship, neighborhood or just face-to-face contact. He sees society the way you might see it from a speaking podium – as a public mass exercise with little allowance for intimacy or private life. He envisions a sort of Vulcan Utopia, in which dispassionate individuals exchange facts and arrive at logical conclusions. This, in turn, grows out of a bizarre view of human nature. Gore seems to have come up with a theory that the upper, logical mind sits on top of, and should master, the primitive and more emotional mind below. He thinks this can be done through a technical process that minimizes information flow to the lower brain and maximizes information flow to the higher brain.[6]

Michael C. Moynihan, in a June 12, 2007 review for Reason Magazine, wrote:

The Assault on Reason reestablishes Gore as America’s premier besserwisser and moral scold: the politician who both warns that we are scaring people to death and argues that Manhattan will soon be submerged beneath the Atlantic.[7]

Gideon Haigh, in a June 2008 feature piece for The Monthly, criticised the book's lengthy subtitle:

For Al Gore's assault on prose, The Assault on Reason amply suffices: nothing is added by How the Politics of Fear, Secrecy and Blind Faith Subvert Wise Decision-Making, Degrade Democracy and Imperil America and the World except the sense of a Nobel Prize fashionably squandered.[8]

Awards[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "New York Times Bestsellers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-14. 
  2. ^ "The Assault on Reason by Al Gore". Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly). 2007-05-21. Retrieved 2007-06-11. [dead link]
  3. ^ Kakatuni, Michiko (2007-05-22). "Al Gore Speaks of a Nation in Danger". New York Times (New York Times). Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  4. ^ Conason, Joe (2007-05-22). "Al Gore, uncensored, in 'The Assault on Reason'". Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles Times). Archived from the original on 2007-05-25. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  5. ^ Ehrenhalt, Alan (2007-05-27). "The Assault on Reason by Al Gore". The Washington Post (The Washington Post). Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  6. ^ Brooks, David (2007-05-29). "The Vulcan Utopia". New York Times (New York Times). Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  7. ^ Moynihan, Michael (2007-06-12). "Free Speech for People Who Think Like Me". Reason (Reason). Retrieved 2007-06-18. 
  8. ^ Haigh, Gideon (June 2008). "And You Can Too". The Monthly (The Monthly). Retrieved 2008-06-08. 

External links[edit]