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

I recently had the degrading experience of crying into an iced pumpkin latte at Barnes & Noble. It happened as I leafed (and laughed) through my copy of America (The Book), a mock social-science textbook from the creators of The Daily Show. The text mimics with gleeful sarcasm the all-knowing tone found in such books, with chapters like “The President: King of Democracy” and “The Judicial Branch: It Rules.” The side margins are chock full of ridiculous graphs and a recurring caption called “Were You Aware?” (Here I learned that Plato actually wanted his form of democracy to be called “Plato ’n’ Friends.”) There is even a wall poster for the classroom. And, at the end of each chapter, the requisite discussion questions and classroom activities for students, which include forming a global superpower. Be forewarned: There is liberal use of profanity and Supreme Court Justice nudity. For every political nerd on your holiday shopping list.