Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Book Review: Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers by Nick Offerman


My husband loved Nick Offerman's first book, his memoir, so when I saw this at the bookstore, I suggested he get it. And then immediately I swiped it and read it.

At first I was worried it was going to entirely be people I was already familiar with: Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt. They're all great and I like reading about them. But I appreciated the book so much more when he got into people you less expect on a list of American heroes, like Yoko Ono and Willie Nelson and Carol Burnett, and I liked even more the people I'd never heard of, like the woodworking tools company founder, and the boat-building partners on Martha's Vineyard. They were so interesting. And it is a much more interesting story of America, to start off with the Big Heroes, but eventually to get down to the everyday, to people you and I could know, who live in our towns and communities. I agree that "gumption" is a uniquely American trait that usually works for the good. I almost wish I'd listened to this on audio, but then I'd have missed the cool caricature portraits that began each chapter, and I didn't need the audio—his voice rang in my ears the entire time, even reading it in print. If you're looking for something you can pick up and point down, it's great, as it's a series of essays and so doesn't have a narrative thread. However, you will find it very hard to put down, I promise.

I bought this book at an independent bookstore, Little City Books in Hoboken, NJ.

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