Review: Stuff Every American Should Know
Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese have complied a list of things they think everyone should know in a handy little pocket sized book titled Stuff Every American Should Know. It’s a fun little book, even if you don’t agree with all of the authors’ choices. As a matter of fact, they really don’t expect you to.
This book, which purports to be about stuff every American should know, is admittedly selective, idiosyncratic, and likely to touch off arguments.
As you would expect, I agreed with many of the things they included, like “What does the Bill of Rights allow me to do?” and “What’s a bicameral congross?” There were quite a few things that I thought were fun but not things that are necessary to know like “Ten Things You Can Make with a Bandana” and “Who invented blue jeans?” I was dismayed to see that I’ve only read two of the books on their list of “Ten Books Every American Should Read”:
- Common Sense by Thomas Paine
- The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Stienbeck
- Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown
The last section of the book explains that in order to become a U. S. Citizen, immigrants must pass a test on U. S. history and government. Tests are made up of 10 random questions out of a pool of 100, and applicants must answer 6 correctly to pass. Kiernan and D’Agnese include 10 of the questions and answers and I had fun quizzing everyone I know – needless to say, most people did not score that well. Stuff Every American Should Know is a quick, fun read that would make a great gift.