So, here's my question about political books. How do people stand to read books that only share and provide facts about their own personal points of view? I'm talking about the Ann Coulter and Al Franken political readers of the world. For the most part, the only people reading those books are the hardcore disciples who completely agree with everything they already think. To me, that sometimes seems like nothing more than a big waste of reading time.
Take a book like William Kleinknecht's The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America. Now, I am of the opinion that Ronald Reagan was a total shithead. So you'd think, wouldn't you, that this book would be right up my alley? And I guess it could be. But after reading the Introduction, I just couldn't get myself to read any further. For the most part, I was completely in agreement with everything the author said. If I had any sort of memory (I don't, sadly, except for book titles and the names of BBC actors and the literary adaptations in which they appear, you know, the really important stuff) this would be a great book from which to learn facts and interesting tidbits about the many and exact ways in which Ronald Reagan was a total shithead. Consider:
"But therein lies the great myth of Reaganism, for his betrayal of the working people of America could not have been more complete. Thanks in large part to Reagan's policies, the two periods of economic expansion that followed his election did little for Americans in the middle and lower income brackets...Expressed in constant 1998 dollars, households whose wealth placed them in the bottom 40 percent of the country had seen none of the benefits of two decades of economic growth. Between 1962 and 1983, the average household net worth of that group had grown from $800 to $4,700. But by the time Reagan was out of office in 1989, that group had a negative net worth of $4,100; that is, they were in debt for that amount...
The real winners in that economic growth were the wealthy. The top 1 percento fhouseholds saw its average net worth grown from $7.2 million to $9.1 million between 1983 and 1989, a 26.9 percent increase that far surpassed the 6 percent growth for the middle 20 percent." (pp. xiv-xv.)
Now, that's interesting stuff. But the problem* is, a. I know numbers can be largely manufactured or construed to say pretty much whatever you need them to say, so it's hard for me to get too passionate about them, and b. I'm never going to remember them anyway, so I can have them ready for when someone asks me why my gut feeling is that Ronald Reagan was a total shithead. So yeah, this would probably be an interesting book (there are also chapters on Reagan's mastery of the media, deregulation, his big-business friendly policies, his campaign against Jimmy Carter, crime and punishment, tax, and his relentless pummeling of liberals and the New Deal). I just don't have the time or the heart or the inclination to read it right now. On the other hand, I do now have a title I can remember for the next time someone tells me how great Ronald Reagan was. They won't listen to me or read it or anything, but I'll at least have tried.
*My second problem with the book is this line, from the introduction: "This book is borne of annoyance: a great bewilderment over the myth that continues to surround the presidency of Ronald Reagan." I agree with that in spirit. But shouldn't it be "This book is BORN of annoyance"? Help me out, grammar experts, because if it should be BORN I'm going to be totally annoyed with this book.