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Book Review of: The Pocket Book of Patriotism


If you like to keep yourself from being ignorant of key events in American and world history, this book makes a fine addition to your collection:

The Pocket Book of Patriotism

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Review of The Pocket Book of Patriotism, by Jonathon Foreman.

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, lifelong history buff and author of over 5,000 articles.

In 2005, The Harris Poll conducted a survey that showed less than a quarter of American citizens had a basic--and I do mean basic--understanding of how the federal government is structured. Thus, it's very likely that any person reading this view lacks the basic information for meeting the duties of responsible citizenship. This book offers a means to correct that problem, if you are such a person.

In another 2005 incident, an honors student in college did not know which came first--the Vietnam War or the French-American War. Part of the blame lies in the alleged "news coverage" spewed by American television networks and other sources of disinformation--how are young people supposed to learn the truth in a barrage of sensationalism and extremely biased "reporting?"

But it goes deeper than the television problem--too few citizens have a handy reference for reviewing and later referring to seminal events in American and World history, and so they find it nearly impossible to sort fact from fiction. This book solves that problem.

Aside from the introduction, this book has no narrative. So, it's a quick read. Most of it consists of a highly informative timeline--something I've often wanted but did not have, until now. This timeline consists of two columns on each page. The left column is for events in American history, while the right is for events in world history. It's illuminating to see these laid out side by side, for any given year. Being a history buff myself, I looked hard for some failure or error in this timeline. I didn't find one.

After the timeline, the book offers a "Part Two," which contains the following information:

  • Speeches, charters, and significant documents
  • Lyrics of patriotic songs
  • Poems and verse
  • A listing of United States Presidents along with their dates of service
  • The states, listed in the order in which they joined the union
  • Quotations on patriotism
  • Medals of valor and what they mean
  • Flag traditions and flag ettitiquette
  • Oaths and pledges

It's interesting to note that the author draws a distinction between nationalism and patriotism. It's also interesting to note that Foreman is no knee-jerk, wide-eyed, flag-waving fanatic. The book gives a bit of perspective with his short bio.



About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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