The Czar has finished reading Glenn Becks latest book Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns and wanted to beat the Mandarin (a) to a book review and (b) with a hockey stick. We shall tackle (a) here today.
The book is divided into two parts: the first covers the common main stream media statements about gun controland basically, all of these are myths: why not limit magazine capacities? Doesnt the 2nd Amendment really deal with muskets? Does crime really go down with concealed carry? In fact, there are over a hundred pages of popular claims about guns, and Beck explains the facts behind each. Some claims are outright lies, others are based in truth, some are correct but taken out of context. With each, he supplies two or more quotes taken in the last year from politicians, celebrities, authors, and pundits to prove that, yes, real people are making these claims. In a sense, the first part is a series of claims followed by factual analysis of each claim.
Needless to say, Beck draws immediate conclusions that much of what the main stream media understands or claims about firearms is completely nuts, and the facts are presented with considerable detail to explain, debunk, or clarify the truth.
The second part of the book present Becks opinions on what to do about firearm legislation, including an analysis of mass shooters, popular culture and its glorification of violence, and so on.
The first part of the book is outstanding. The amount of detail in the research makes this useful as a reference bookindeed, Beck states that he hopes this could be the case. He truly presents pretty much every argument coming from the Left, liberals, Democrats, and the mediaranging from seemingly harmless comments about the 2nd Amendment to the outlandish. And then he provides conclusive arguments with considerable evidence.
You know that claim that America has more firearm deaths than any other country? He settles that claim once and for all with reality, and then goes on to rip apart the many variations of that argument. As you know, folks on the Left like to move the goalposts on arguments: just as you debunk one claim, they hit you with a variation on it. Beck has heard all the variations, he lists them here, and then goes on to skewer those, too.
The Czar has heard most of these claims, and has had to argue against them. He is happy to see that Beck and his research team have done a thorough job.
That does not make the first part of the book perfect, by any means. Two egregious issues continued to plague the otherwise easy-to-read-and-digest book.
The first problem is the formatting, which makes the entire book look like it was done with a bunny word processor. The primary text font is easy to read; claims are written in weird, tiny, bold fonts that look disproportionate to the body text, and there is a terrible abuse of dark gray text on a light gray boxthe Czar found himself squinting while reading some of it, and since we read a portion of this by a pool at sunset, we found ourselves having to close the book far too early that evening because the text was illegible in anything but bright light. The format of the book gets a D. Had Glenn Beck used a default Microsoft Word template, the book would have esthetically appeared much, much better.
The second problem is with Beck. Although he presents every theme and variation of media claims, and carefully analyzes them for accuracy, he finds it impossible to turn off his snarky morning zoo radio personality. Far too often, he insults the people making the claims and this gets distracting. For example, if MSNBC personality Rachel Maddow makes a claim, he could simply refute it with simple facts; instead, he will parenthetically make a snide comment about her low ratings in the middle of the debunking. While that can be entertaining on the air, it becomes intensely distracting in the literal middle of an argument. This, more than anything else, limits how effective this book will be as a textbook for gun rights advocates. The Czar believes that these same arguments and claims will be around in 2023; this book could be useful ten years from now to deflate those arguments, but readers then will have little memory of who or what a Rachel Maddow was. A savvy editor could have deleted every single one of those potshots, and the arguments made even stronger.
The second part of the book is more opinion, but unfortunately is much weaker. Beck takes too long to set up his opinions, and then drags the reader through topical issues before hitting any kind of a conclusion: parents, you gotta know what your kids are into.
Beck takes on the influence of video games, movies, and television on conditioning kids to worship violence. There can be an argument here. Personally, the Czar thinks far too much credit is given to video games, movies, and television in this regard; the Czar was delighted to see Beck agree with thatBeck states he thinks any push to limit violence in games, movies, and television is pure censorship (with which we agree). Instead, he pushes parents to get involved with what their kids are doing, and for parents to decide what games, movies, and shows the kids are watching. This is sound advice and splits the horns of the censorship vs. responsibility dilemma.
However, the Czar has a personal problem with the second part, and that is Becks reliance on the controversial and often theatrical Dave Grossman. Grossman, who has done some serious and respectable research on how the military turns dopey kids into professional combat experts, too often taints his conclusions with circus terms like killology and outlandish demands to eliminate video games and television shows from the market place…exactly the opposite of what Beck himself supports. Grossman is too wacky and radical to be taken fully seriously, and Beck hurts his presentation with it.
A corollary to this problem is that many of the video games Grossman cites as turning your kids into killers are games like Quake, Duke Nukem, Doom, and Grand Theft Auto. These are of course games that kids have not touched in decades in some cases; and the number of mass killers who referenced these games is at best one per. Beck himself notes that for all the supposed influence violent video games are supposed to have on kids, pace Grossman, less than ten kids have ever claimed to be influenced by these games, despite the millions of kids who have played it. Beck fails to note how weak that argument is; in fact, one might suspect that a 0.000001% chance of influence means that violent video games are more prone to prevent a kid from turning into a mass shooter as it gives them a harmless outlet.
Whatever your position is on that argument, the second part of the book is weaker. You probably ought to read it, as Beck provides some interesting thoughts therein, but if you have limited time, you are advised to focus on the first part of the book for its inherent usefulness.
You can get a copy by clicking on our Emporium Gormogonicum over on the left; click on The Mandarin’s Book Club to find yourself a copy at a considerable discounted price.
Божію Поспѣшествующею Милостію Мы, Дима Грозный Императоръ и Самодержецъ Всероссiйскiй, цѣсарь Московскiй. The Czar was born in the steppes of Russia in 1267, and was cheated out of total control of all Russia upon the death of Boris Mikhailovich, who replaced Alexander Yaroslav Nevsky in 1263. However, in 1283, our Czar was passed over due to a clerical error and the rule of all Russia went to his second cousin Daniil (Даниил Александрович), whom Czar still resents. As a half-hearted apology, the Czar was awarded control over Muscovy, inconveniently located 5,000 miles away just outside Chicago. He now spends his time seething about this and writing about other stuff that bothers him.