This book is particularly apt in this election year in the U.S. The very perceptive views of Mr Maher are wonderful to read. I would recommend this book to everyone. He has such a grasp of everything that's wrong with America today and the neo-conservative drift that has taken place since George Bush was elected 4 years ago. Let us have more Mr Maher!
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195 of 208 people found the following review helpful
Helpful, Intelligent, Entertaining, and Deeply Flawed26 Nov. 2002
- Published on Amazon.com
Although this book has its share of problems, it is a must read because it is wildly entertaining and because it raises all the right questions about what Americans can really do to win the 'War on Terrorism'. Bill Maher uses language and imagery to contrast the current 'War on Terrorism' against the backdrop of the two world wars and the Cold War and to argue that unlike the present situation, Americans actually got involved back then and did something that is inconceivable today'they made sacrifices. Maher's book is divided into a series of brief, humorous essays (no more than three pages in length) each of which is illustrated with vintage style war posters that contain messages and slogans about the 'War on Terrorism'. Some of Maher's more trenchant arguments are: MAKE SACRIFICES Wars are won by uniting and making sacrifices, so why not carpool as civilians did during WW II (hence the title of this book) instead of driving alone? Also, why not give up SUVs and other idiotic vanity vehicles in favor of fuel efficient ones that will reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, which is one of Al Quaeda's prime sources of revenue. PROTECT THE CITIZENS If the president gets a secret service, why can't we? Put real security in our airports like Israel does. PERFORM INTELLIGENT SEARCHES At the risk of being offensive, search likely suspects at airports, not random people including old women and children. THE 'WAR ON DRUGS' IS REALLY STUPID Why are we investing billions of dollars and lots of resources making sure cancer victims can't smoke pot when we could be directing all of that money and resources toward protecting civilians at home? Besides, it doesn't work and it simply makes more people hate us. UNDERSTAND WHY WE ARE HATED People are attacking us for a reason. Try to understand what that reason is, don't just resort to comfort and clichés. Maher's book also contains its share of flaws. I completely agree with Maher's criticism of politically correct ideology and agree with him that replacing common sense with sensitivity does not solve any problems. In some cases however, Maher misses the boat not because his arguments are insensitive but simply because they are ignorant. Here are a few examples: THOSE ...MOSLEMS! Maher argues that there is nothing wrong with criticizing Islam since among other things it is brutally repressive toward women. What he fails to consider is that there is no monolithic Islam that doles out the same repressive behavior the world over. The Taliban, the Saudi royal family, and Bin Laden are followers of Wahhabism, a virulent, fundamentalist sect in Islam. They have been frequently criticized by high ranking Suni and Shiite clerics who, among other things, condemned their treatment of women as unislamic. To equate all of Islam with the behavior of the Taliban (as Maher does) is to ignore this fact. IT'S A CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS Maher, like Samuel Huntington, argues that we are experiencing a clash of civilizations and that the 'War on Terrorism' is a struggle between two conflicting cultures, the West and Islam. As Tariq Ali, Edward Said, and Howard Zinn aptly point out, religion does play an important ideological role in this conflict, but it is essentially a political one. Sure, the 9/11 terrorist were religiously motivated to sacrifice their lives, but their targets (the centers of finance, military planning and probably of government) were political ones. Similarly, while Bin Laden uses Islam as his rallying cry and justification, his goals are flagrantly political as evidenced by his statement that America would know security at home when the people of the Middle East knew security in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Palestine. TAKE SADDAM OUT Maher indicates that since Saddam Hussein is developing nuclear weapons and must be stopped this is no time for sensitivity. He would probably do well to read the reports of the highly insensitive and highly informed Scott Ridder, which argue that Iraq was thoroughly disarmed and posses no threat. (Ridder is a marine veteran and former intelligence officer who played a leading role in disarming Iraq after the Gulf War. He is a Republican who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and believes war with Iraq is unwarranted.) The strength of this book lies not so much in the fact that it provides all of the right answers but that it asks all of the right questions. Despite its flaws this book is intelligent, wildly funny and definitely worth reading. I strongly recommend however, that you read this book intelligently and skeptically, not with total acceptance. Maher would probably be the first to agree with this suggestion.
75 of 83 people found the following review helpful
Bill Maher... the Model American?26 Oct. 2002
Gary W. Sullivan II
- Published on Amazon.com
Being an avid "Politically Incorrect" viewer for many, many years, I've seen and heard Bill Maher say some really incredible things, and some incredibly stupid things. Many misguided people will believe that, after the September 11th attacks, Bill was being stupid, unpatriotic, and unfeeling when hrefered to our military efforts "cowardly". It's something that Bill really wan't able to explain to people while his show was on the air. Well, consider this his retribution... he proves in this book that, not only is he EXTREMELY patriotic, but he also has an EXTREMELY great grasp on politics, and is still EXTREMELY funny. Bill is tired of politcal correctness and other such practices that keep our country from being everything that it can be. He dwells on various topics ranging from oil consumption (in terms of automobiles and liht bulbs), truly coming together as a country and making REAL sacrifices, religion, the futile and meaningless drug war, airport security, freedom of speech, American arrogance to anything foreign, and national security. All 132 pages are filled with intellectual and amusing observations and recommendations by Maher. His comic relief in the midst of some hardcore political discussion will definitely catch you off gaurd (I found myself laughing out loud many times), and when you have finished the book, you will sit back and think: "Damn, that was so funny... but damn, he is SO RIGHT." This is why many people love the likes of Bill Maher and Al Franken... they are funny, but they are also serious about everything they say. The reason I did not give this book a perfect 5 stars is that it is a bit short (lots of illustrations, white space, and large lettering), but in some cases, it makes it even better. I finished it in 2 hours... you could buy it and keep it in the bathroom and still learn alot from this book!
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A temper tantrum in print - but lots of fun16 Feb. 2003
Robert J. Morris
- Published on Amazon.com
Bill Maher has a serious temper tantrum in this short and cartoonish diatribe. But it is fun, and he makes some good points. Heck, he has blurbs on the back of the book from Al Franken and Ann Coulter - talk about appealing to everybody. The book is much like Bill's show, very opinionated but the ideas are never really fleshed out. A lot of points get made in a hurry here, but they are darned good points - and they get the reader thinking after he finishes laughing. The reader reviews here aren't totally friendly, and I think it may be because Bill manages to annoy everybody at some point or other. Or maybe folks were looking for Calvin or Marxian depth. But taken as a whole the book is like a very good political comedy routine - you'll chuckle, you'll be insulted, and you'll learn something. That's Maher's schtick on stage, and that's his style here. Listen, his show got on my nerves - I've never been a fan of his. But I enjoyed this book, and credit Maher for taking on the government and shallow patriots for their reaction to 9/11. And it's nice to see that Maher appreciates his country and what it represents while he faults its leaders and many of its people. By the way, what this book lacks in depth it makes up in height. If your bookshelf is less than 16 inches tall you better wait for the paperback.
54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
A Book Every American Should Read11 Dec. 2002
- Published on Amazon.com
9/11, Millions cared for three thousand. Next time, it might be the other way around. This is one of the captions below a picture depicting the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack on American soil, and is one of over thirty pictures and topics covered in this book. Bill Maher's voice may be the equivalent of listening to fingernails scratching the surface of a chalkboard to some, but the common sense behind those words cannot be denied. "When You Ride Alone" is pretty much standard Bill Maher affair, with him writing things and making connections between what we are doing at home, and how we, as an American civilization, have not answered the bell in response to the attack on September 11, 2001. Through an assortment of well thought out drawings that harken back to WWII propaganda Bill tackles numerous topics on how we, the people of this nation, should and could have responded, as well as some very astute observations pertaining to the role of the government. Now, this book in not for PC's. Racial profiling is one of the many questionable programs that Bill gives the thumbs up to, though the reasoning behind his arguments cannot be denied as anything less than sound. This along with SUVs, the drug war, assisted suicide, political passivism, and living in a wasteful nation, are among the topics covered. Whether you agree with him or not, the book raises serious issues and brings to light a unique perspective on what is going on in our nation. As stated, every American of age 18 should take the time to read this book and reflect on their own lives and contributions they might be making to those who flew planes into our buildings.
115 of 137 people found the following review helpful
Maher is both an idiot & a genius. Buy the book anyway.4 Nov. 2002
- Published on Amazon.com
I both love and hate this book at the same time. I imagine Maher brings out this response from many people. I do agree with many of Maher's libertarian views, despite being "liberal." But still, he's got some ideas that he can't back up with facts. One of my major beefs is that Maher seems to believe that we are at war with Islam -- all of Islam. Such views are not helpful. They only make matters worse by putting everyone in the same category. If we judged Christians as being all like Jerry Falwell no one who believed in Christ would look good either. Maher's support of profiling Arabs also doesn't make sense. There are tons of scenerios in which an old lady, a child, or a love struck 20 something could accidentally bring a bomb on board a plane. It's not about knowledge or intent, it's about manipulation. I want the old ladies frisked, including my mother! Why? Because some people are too trusting and just might make a mistake. There are other views expressed or, unfortunately, outright ignored. In one poster he highlights the stoning of Muslim women while at the same time ignoring the rape and brutualities towards women here in the US. In another essay he demands more funding for the Pentagon, the agency that gets more than 50 percent of the discretionary budget and was judged by the GAO as being the most mismanaged federal agency in the entire US government. Please! In another poster & essay he supports the reporting of suspicious activities to the government. On its face, that might make sense. But then remember how many idiots there are out there and how many people have an axe to grind with someone else. The good posters and essays, on the other hand, hit dead center. The "why they hate" us posters are great as is Maher's support for better pay and respect for firefighters, soldiers and police officers. The pages focusing on our over consumption of oil are perhaps the best, most notably the one on the front cover. Despite these criticisms, Maher brings a lot of ideas to the table. God knows we need more of that right now when so many people are so quick to throw the "un-American" label at those who dissent. Which brings me to one of the better posters & essays in the book: Speaking out IS an act of patriotism. I'll grant that to Maher, even if I disagree with half of what he says.