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Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington    by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein order for
Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington
by Thomas Cathcart
Order:  USA  Can
Abrams Image, 2008 (2008)
* *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

Anyone paying attention to American politics has had plenty of opportunities to listen to the politicians delivering speeches, giving press conferences, participating in debates, and offering up their opinions and comments on television programs.

Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein have been paying attention. And now they share their observations in an entertaining, fascinating, and perceptive book, Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington: Understanding Political Doublespeak Through Philosophy and Jokes which follows up on their previous New York Times 2007 bestseller, Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar.

Holding politicians up to relentless scrutiny, Cathcart and Klein have analyzed hundreds of the politicians' most absurd, ridiculous, duplicitous, fallacious, misleading, and (ostensibly) profound statements. The authors explain and expose the doublespeak language of politicians, the kind of ubiquitous political language that compels many attentive observers to observe, 'That sounds like utter bullshit!' (Those words, incidentally, are Cathcart's and Klein's opening salvo, which sets the tone for all that follows in their compact 192 page book.)

Using formal logic (with its roots in classical philosophy) and tongue-in-cheek humor, Cathcart and Klein examine hundreds of sound bites as they look at what they call The Tricky Talk Strategy (Misleading with Doublespeak), the So's Your Mother Strategy (Misleading by Getting Personal), the Fancy Footwork Strategy (Misleading with Informal Fallacies), the Star Trek Strategy (Misleading by Creating an Alternate Universe), Extra Credit (Misleading with Way Twisty Formal Fallacies), and The Debates (Misleading by Fabrication).

No one is immune from Cathcart's and Klein's caustic and cynical analysis: Republicans, Democrats, and Independents; Liberals, Conservatives, and Libertarians; Senators, Representatives, Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Cabinet Secretaries. Everyone is fair-game in Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington.

Guaranteed to give readers a fresh (albeit cynical) perspective on American politics, and certain to give readers fresh analytical tools with which to decode all the utter bullshit that comes out of politician's minds and mouths, Cathcart and Klein have a timely and indispensable winner on their hands with Aristotle and an Aardvark Go to Washington.

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