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Download The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Thirteen American Arguments: Enduring Debates That Define and Inspire Our Country Audiobook, by Howard Fineman Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (222 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Howard Fineman Narrator: Scott Sowers Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2008 ISBN: 9780739359228
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Howard Fineman is one of our best-known and most trusted political journalists. Mixing vivid scenes and figures from the campaign trail with forays into four hundred years of American history, Fineman shows that every debate, from our nation’s founding to the present day, is rooted in one of thirteen arguments that–thankfully–defy resolution. It is the very process of never-ending argument, Fineman explains, that defines us, inspires us, and keeps us free. At a time when most public disagreement seems shrill and meaningless, Fineman makes a cogent case for nurturing the real American dialogue. 

Shouting is not arguing, Fineman notes, but often hot-button topics, media “cross-fires,” and blogs reflect the deepest currents in American life. In an enlightening book that cuts through the din and makes sense of the headlines, Fineman captures the essential issues that have always compelled healthy and heated debate–and must continue to do so in order for us to prosper in the twenty-first century. The Thirteen American Arguments run the gamut, from issues of individual identity to our country’s role in the world, including:

• Who is a Person? The Declaration of Independence says “everyone,” but it took a Civil War and the Civil Rights and other movements to make that a reality. Presently, what about human embryos and “unlawful enemy combatants?”
• Who is an American? Only a nation of immigrants could argue so much about who should become one. There is currently added urgency when terrorists are at large in the world and twelve million “undocumented” aliens are in the country.
• The Role of Faith. No country is more legally secular yet more avowedly prayerful. From Thomas Jefferson to Terri Schiavo, we can never quite decide where God fits in government.
• Presidential Power. In a democracy, leadership is all the more difficult — and, paradoxically, all the more essential. From George Washington to George W. Bush, we have always asked: How much power should a president have?
• America in the World. Uniquely, we perpetually ask ourselves whether we have a moral obligation to change the world — or, alternatively, whether we must try to change it to survive in it.

Whether it’s the environment, international trade, interpreting law, Congress vs. the president, or reformers vs. elites, these are the issues that galvanized the Founding Fathers and should still inspire our leaders, thinkers, and citizens. If we cease to argue about these things, we cease to be. “Argument is strength, not weakness,” says Fineman. “As long as we argue, there is hope, and as long as there is hope, we will argue.”

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrew | 2/15/2014

    " An excellent premise; faulty execution... My major beef is that the dude never seems to get around to saying anything! In discussing "Who is a person?", for example, we get a paragraph on Ann Richards introducing Ferraro in '84, the standard tip of the hat to Abigail Adams, and then a paragraph on Roe v. Wade followed by some references to Nancy Pelosi. What is your point, holmes? "Like the universe, the meaning of personhood is expanding." Oh. Thanks. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrienne | 2/11/2014

    " I picked this book up because I got to meet him. And I really enjoyed it. It is an exercise in the questions that cannot be settled in a clear way. A great read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 2/1/2014

    " EXCELLENT read. Fineman discusses why we SHOULD argue and debate over issues. Not argue in the angry sense, but rather stay strong to your belief but be willing to discuss, debate and defend your opinion while stil being able to hear other opinions. It's what our country was founded on. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Karl | 1/31/2014

    " An interesting take on politics in America. Fineman views politics as discussions about continuing issues and not just Republicans v. Democrats or liberals v. conservatives. Fineman provides a different lens for viewing today's political fights in which the parties may have switched sides on basic issues (sometimes more than once) but where the basic issues remain. A good book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 TJ Jackson | 1/20/2014

    " This book is nothing crazy over the top, but Fineman does a nice job of defining and laying out the arguments and counterarguments to thirteen key topics we face as a country. On some of these topics there might be an answer, but the answer is the need for debate versus actually finding any defined "answer"; to Fineman's point of "if we cease to argue, we cease to be". He does a nice job of giving the reader a topical history, as well as current concerns. Great refresher in a huge election year. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gary | 1/18/2014

    " Fineman does a good job of isolating key issues that have preoccupied Americans throughout their history. He brings his own experience to bear on many of these issues. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 AJ | 1/7/2014

    " Fine writing on why deep and reasoned arguments keep us free, keep us moving forward, keep us American-qua-American. 13 Arguments = 13 Articles of Confederation. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brian | 5/21/2013

    " Agree with some of the other reviews... good concept, interesting topics, but the author never really takes a position or says anything. Makes for a much less interesting read than it could be. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel Smith | 3/24/2013

    " Very interesting analysis of the history of American rhetoric. I'll update this review later once I've graduated (May 7) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pauline Plissner | 12/12/2012

    " This book was very enlightening in the history of the key arguments that have shaped and are still shaping the direction of America. Much of this information I did not know. A very good read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Darrell Fisher | 7/18/2012

    " Amazing insight on the motivations of this country. If you have any interest in politics or history you should read this book "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe | 4/27/2012

    " An interesting book that provides a very good summary of the key arguments surrounding issues that America continues to struggle with. A very middle of the road discussion - in my view. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chuck | 3/18/2012

    " The author writes essays about (what he feels) are the central questions about American democracy -- "What is a person?," "Who Judges the Law?," etc. Good, but it would have been more fun to read this book with someone else in order to discuss the various conclusions. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Reynaldo | 11/11/2011

    " the introduction is a little wordy and confusing... we'll see. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen | 7/1/2011

    " What I already thought: arguing is good for democracy. A history of and reasons for debate. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Charles Dean | 5/11/2011

    " I loved the premise of this book, but was disappointed in the execution. It was more historical/contemporary, illustrating these 13 arguments. I was hoping for more philosophy... Oh well... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rachel | 4/6/2011

    " Very interesting analysis of the history of American rhetoric. I'll update this review later once I've graduated (May 7) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joe | 3/23/2011

    " A book that scurries along the fence tops of our country's most polarized arguments, never falling to one side or the other.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 AJ | 11/5/2010

    " Fine writing on why deep and reasoned arguments keep us free, keep us moving forward, keep us American-qua-American. 13 Arguments = 13 Articles of Confederation. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Reynaldo | 8/26/2010

    " the introduction is a little wordy and confusing... we'll see. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Darrell | 2/20/2010

    " Amazing insight on the motivations of this country. If you have any interest in politics or history you should read this book "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Brian | 8/26/2009

    " Agree with some of the other reviews... good concept, interesting topics, but the author never really takes a position or says anything. Makes for a much less interesting read than it could be. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chuck | 5/9/2009

    " The author writes essays about (what he feels) are the central questions about American democracy -- "What is a person?," "Who Judges the Law?," etc. Good, but it would have been more fun to read this book with someone else in order to discuss the various conclusions. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Adrienne | 3/23/2009

    " I picked this book up because I got to meet him. And I really enjoyed it. It is an exercise in the questions that cannot be settled in a clear way. A great read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jeff | 11/23/2008

    " So far its okay, and I think if you're new to the issues this would be a good overview source, but in my case I feel like I'm not gaining too much.

    In short, so far its a nice overview of American issues. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandy | 10/22/2008

    " EXCELLENT read. Fineman discusses why we SHOULD argue and debate over issues. Not argue in the angry sense, but rather stay strong to your belief but be willing to discuss, debate and defend your opinion while stil being able to hear other opinions. It's what our country was founded on. "

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About the Narrator

Scott Sowers is an actor and audiobook narrator. AudioFile magazine named him the 2008 Best Voice in Mystery and Suspense.