An important work full of prudent political ideas despite its meanderings.



An acclaimed thinker reimagines the American government in this political book.

From his personalized California license plate, “GO SANE,” to his nearly two dozen works on business and education, Albrecht has spent a lifetime preaching about the need for thoughtful, evidence-based decisions that challenge the often irrational, inefficient status quo. In this volume, the Mensa Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award winner, business executive, physicist, and former military intelligence officer applies his innovative analysis to American society’s most dysfunctional facet—the government. Eschewing the right-versus-left, Republican-versus-Democrat dichotomy that characterizes American political thought today, this book offers a third path that is both revolutionary in its willingness to overhaul entrenched systems and pragmatic in its fierce devotion to tangible, measured solutions. Using the analogy of a sentimentally beloved yet increasingly dilapidated old house to represent the American government, Albrecht asks: “How can I modernize it and still keep its essential character—the things I love and value about it?” For decades, America’s politicians, the book argues, have constituted “a long parade of mediocre thinkers” who lacked the “visionary leadership” required to revamp the government for 21st-century needs. Alternately, on nearly every major topic germane to contemporary politics, the author presents readers his own ideas that ignore “the old thinking and the old clichés” that have too often permeated American policy conversations. His concepts also disregard bombastic politicians like Donald Trump who dominate the media’s political coverage.

Albrecht’s intriguing proposals span from election reform, which includes mandatory voting and the abolition of the Electoral College, to criminal justice modifications. He calls for increased attention on sexual abuse while shifting from a retribution model of punishment to one centered on restitution. On government revenue, the author recommends that loophole-laden income taxes be replaced by transactional ones that include a tax on stock market trades and a value chain tax. Many policy ideas require a reconceptualization of American society itself, such as the proposals for financial incentives geared toward “de-urbanization” and “de-consumerization” to alleviate global waste and spur citizens’ investments in their own communities. In addition to policy reforms, the book’s sweeping narrative provides a broad overview of American history, identifies the prerequisite “building blocks” of successful republics, and delivers perspectives on myriad topics related to the United States’ place in humanity’s past and future. While the volume is nearly always both insightful and accessible to a general audience, its ambitious drive to cover nearly all aspects of American government and political history sometimes makes for a frustrating read when tangential discussions distract from its more central arguments. Intertwined with the book’s policy ideas is an eclectic assortment of ruminations on topics such as whether we are “amusing ourselves to death” and discursions on the demand for a new national anthem and the need to abolish daylight saving time. There is even a hypothetical conversation between Plato and American policymakers. These numerous digressions slow down the pace of the over 500-page tome. Nevertheless, Albrecht’s refreshing and relentless nonpartisan disposition that replaces finger-pointing with solution-driven ideas is a welcome addition to today’s political discourse. This is a serious book for an era replete with “mediocre leaders” who prioritize hot takes and partisan one-upmanship over sensible, meaningful action.

An important work full of prudent political ideas despite its meanderings.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-913351-42-0

Page Count: 510

Publisher: Eyethink Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?


For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?