Cover image for Dave Barry hits below the Beltway
Title:
Dave Barry hits below the Beltway
Author:
Barry, Dave.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Grand Haven, MI : Brilliance Audio, [2001]

℗2001
Physical Description:
5 audio discs (approximately 6 hrs.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Unabridged.

Compact disc.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9781587888489
Format :
Audiobook on CD

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Grand Island Library E889 .B37 2001D Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks
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Summary

Summary

Understanding the urgent need for a deeply thoughtful, balanced book to explain our national political process, Dave Barry has not even come close. Though he himself has covered many campaigns, run for president several times, and run for cover at the rainy inauguration of George W. Bush (the man will spare nothing for his art), Barry has instead outdone himself.

Below the Beltway includes Barry's stirring account of how the United States was born, including his version of a properly written Declaration (When in the course of human events it behooves us, the people, not to ask "What can our country do for us, anyway?" but rather whether we have anything to fear except fear itself) and a revised Constitution (Section II: The House of Representatives shall be composed of people who own at least two dark suits and have not been indicted recently).

Dave also cracks the income-tax code and explains the growth(s) of government, congressional hearing difficulties, and the persistent rumors of the influence of capital in the Capitol. Among other civic contributions, his tour of Washington D.C. should end school class trips forever.


Author Notes

Dave Barry was born in Armonk, New York on July 3, 1947. He received an English degree from Haverford College in 1969. His early attempts at small-town journalism for the Daily Local News in West Chester, Pennsylvania, were directed towards local matters, such as zoning and sewage. In 1975, he briefly attempted to teach business writing to business people. Since then, he has worked as a professional humorist.

For many years he wrote a newspaper column that appeared in more than 500 newspapers and for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He is the author of numerous fiction, nonfiction, and young adult books. His novels include Big Trouble, Tricky Business, Lunatics, and Insane City. His nonfiction works include Dave Barry's Complete Guide to Guys, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States, I'll Mature When I'm Dead, You Can Date Boys When You're Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About, and Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer Is Much Faster): Life Lessons and Other Ravings from Dave Barry. His young adult books include the Starcatchers series and the Never Land series.

Dave Barry's title, Best. State. Ever, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2016.

(Bowker Author Biography) Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist. His recent novel, "Big Trouble," spent several months on the "New York Times" best-seller list, & his most recent nonfiction book, "Dave Barry Turns 50," was also a national best-seller. Dave lives in Miami, Florida.

(Publisher Provided)


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Barry is in fine form in this humorous send-up of American government and politics. He starts at the very beginning, tracing the roots of government from primitive people to the pilgrims, noting that all are plagued by a giant, carnivorous zucchini. After briefly discussing the origins of the U.S. government, Barry really hits his stride when he gets to the Constitution and its articles, positing, for instance, that "the Legislative Branch shall consist of a Congress consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives, which shall cancel each other out." Next comes a section poking fun at government's seemingly unlimited capacity for growth. Barry notes that even as the number of farmers has decreased, the Department of Agriculture has only continued to grow. And what political humor book today would be complete without a jibe at the 2000 election? It's here, but Barry spends more time arguing for booting south Florida from the union than poking fun at the candidates and their plights (though he does ridicule the news media and the lawyers). Some chapters work better than others, but Barry's latest is definitely good for more than a few laughs. --Kristine Huntley


Publisher's Weekly Review

Sporting red trunks, white and blue boxing gloves and an American flag towel on the cover, pugilistic Pulitzer-winner Barry (Dave Barry Turns 50, etc.) appears ready for all contenders in this satirical, hard-hitting political commentary ("Whatever the needs of the public are, the government responds to those needs by getting larger"). Beginning with a study of "Early Human Governments" when homo sapiens "were short, hairy, tree-dwelling creatures that strongly resembled Danny DeVito," the sardonic Miami Herald columnist breezes through the centuries to the U.S.'s birth and then to the present, amending the Constitution en route: "If a citizen is arrested, and that citizen hides his or her face from the news media, then as far as the Constitution is concerned, that citizen is guilty." He tours D.C. sites like the Mall, the Smithsonian (which "will pay you top dollar for your Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch dolls, Pokemon cards, refrigerator magnets, ceramic cats") and the White House ("To take a tour, simply climb over the fence and hold very still until men come sprinting to assist you"). He aims jaundiced japery at presidential "language problems" and elections ("One of these years we're going to elect a president whose first official act will be to launch nuclear strikes against Iowa and New Hampshire"). Once again, the winner is... Dave Barry. 22 illus. and charts not seen by PW. Agent, Fox Chase Agency. (On sale Oct. 2) Forecast: Syndicated in hundreds of newspapers, Barry continues to widen his readership. A nine-city author tour will help launch this onto bestseller lists. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

This reviewer has been told all his life that foods like chicken livers, tofu, brussels sprouts, and other gagging delights are good for him and he is just in a weird little minority. Well, here's another trend he'll buck. Most libraries will buy Barry's book just because he's written it and because most normal people sit down to chuckle with his witticisms after consuming a meal of Cornish game hen or haggis. The author purports to poke fun at politics in the vein of P.J. O'Rourke and Al Franken, but it seems as if he gathers a lot of funny words, throws them at a Velcro board, and sees what sticks. There is no cohesion to his ramblings, and there is very little to laugh at, which is a shame, because O'Rourke and Franken have found that politics is ripe for the picking. The work is read by Dick Hill, but one would swear it is Arte Johnson trying desperately to spin gold out of this verbal dross. Go ahead and buy it your customers will love you for it but don't say you weren't warned. Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Once again Barry meets the challenge of finding humor in United States politics, beginning with a history of how things seemed to have evolved. His perspective is different from the traditional textbook approach to government, history, and perhaps everything else. He good-naturedly pokes fun at great American documents including the Mayflower Compact and the Constitution and provides a unique view of famous events from our past, such as the Boston Tea Party, where he insists that a giant zucchini had an influence on the resultant events. He spends some time pointing out problems in the government, federal spending, and the legislative branch, but he really hits his stride once he starts retelling Florida's role in the last presidential election. For Barry's fans, this will be another book to enjoy and for those who haven't encountered him before, this is a good place to start.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

From the Introduction To do even a halfway decent book on a subject as complex as the United States government, you have to spend a lot of time in Washington, D.C. So the first thing I decided, when I was getting ready to write this book, was that it would not be even halfway decent. I decided this because I'm not comfortable in Washington. Don't get me wrong: Washington is a fine city, offering statues, buildings, and plenty of culture in the form of Thai restaurants. But when I'm in Washington, I always feel as though I'm the only person there who never ran for Student Council. I started feeling this way back in 1967, when, as a college student, I got a job in Washington as a summer intern at Congressional Quarterly , a magazine that, as the name suggests, came out weekly. I was totally unprepared for the Washington environment. I came from an all-male-college environment, where a person's standing in the community was judged on the basis of such factors as: -Was he a good guy? -Would he let you borrow his car? -Would he still be your friend if your date threw up in his car? But when I got to Washington I discovered that even among young people, being a good guy was not the key thing: The key thing was your position on the great Washington totem pole of status. Way up at the top of this pole is the president; way down at the bottom, below mildew, is the public. In between is an extremely complex hierarchy of government officials, journalists, lobbyists, lawyers, and other power players, holding thousands of minutely graduated status rankings differentiated by extremely subtle nuances that only Washingtonians are capable of grasping. For example, Washingtonians know whether a person whose title is "Principal Assistant Deputy Undersecretary" is more or less important than a person whose title is "Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary," or "Principal Deputy to Deputy Assistant Secretary," or "Deputy to the Deputy Secretary," or "Principal Assistant Deputy Undersecretary," or "Chief of Staff to the Assistant Assistant Secretary." (All of these are real federal job titles.) Everybody in Washington always seems to know exactly how much status everybody else has. I don't know how they do it. Maybe they all get together in some secret location and sniff one another's rear ends. All I know is, back in my internship summer of 1967, when I went to Washington parties, they were nothing like parties I'd become used to in college. I was used to parties where it was not unusual to cap off the evening by drinking bourbon from a shoe, and not necessarily your own shoe. Whereas the Washington parties were serious. Everybody made an obvious effort to figure out where everybody else fit on the totem pole, and then spent the rest of the evening sucking up to whoever was higher up. I hated it. Of course, one reason for this was that nobody ever sucked up to me, since interns rank almost as low as members of the public. Today I have many good Washington friends, and I know that not everyone who lives there is a status-obsessed, butt-kissing toad. But there are still way too many people there who simply cannot get over how important they are. And do you want to know why they think they're important? Because they make policy! To the rest of America, making policy is a form of institutional masturbation; to Washingtonians, it is productive work. They love to make policy. They have policy out the wazoo. They can come up with a policy on anything, including the legal minimum size of the holes in Swiss cheese. A good depiction of the Washington worldview, I think, is the hit TV show The West Wing. Don't get me wrong: I think this show is well written, well acted, fast-paced, and entertaining. But Lordy, those characters are full of themselves, aren't they? They can't get over how important they are. They're so important that they can't even sit down. They're always striding briskly around the White House, striding striding striding, making policy with every step. We never see the bathrooms, but I suspect some of the characters stride while they pee. Of course they rarely get a chance to go to the bathroom, because on The West Wing , they're always having a crisis. Like, in one episode I watched, the cast spent an hour hotly debating the question of whether the president should chide some environmental group for not condemning ecoterrorism. In other words, this issue was totally about wordsówhether the president should say harsh words to a group because that group had failed to say harsh words to another group. Nobody was talking about doing anything. But to the characters on The West Wing, this was a very big, very dramatic deal. They were anguishing over it, while of course striding. Watching them, you cannot help but get caught up in the drama: Should the president chide? Or not chide? What would be the repercussions of the chiding? Should the president stride while chiding? You forget that, outside of Washington, the vast majority of regular American taxpaying citizens truly do not care about things like this. The chiding issue is exactly the kind of hot-air, point-scoring, inside-politics nonevent that matters to Washington and four people at The New York Times , but that regular taxpaying Americans instinctively recognize as irrelevant to their lives. The reason you forget this is that regular taxpaying citizens are never depicted on shows like The West Wing. Presumably they're off doing some boring, nondramatic, non-policy-related thing, like working. Anyway, my point is that, even though this book is largely about the federal government, I spent very little time doing research in Washington, or for that matter anywhere else. I mainly sat around and made stuff up. So if you were concerned about encountering a lot of actual information in this book, relax! There's almost none. To compensate for the lack of facts, I have included a great many snide remarks. That is not to say that this book is useless. On the contrary, I believe you will find that, of all the books ever written about the United States government and political system, this book contains, by far, the largest number of illustrations involving zucchini. And maybeójust maybeósomewhere in this book you'll find some tidbit that will actually inform you, and help you to be a better citizen! If you do, please let me know, so I can eliminate that tidbit from the next edition. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Dave Barry Hits below the Beltway by Dave Barry All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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