Earth (THE BOOK) A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race
by Jon Stewart
Grand Central Publishing, 244 pp, $27.99
Jon Stewart may be famous for his nightly comedy “news” program, and more recently for being the radest rally-cum-Halloween-party thrower this nation has ever seen. But what’s less known is that this funny-bone ticklin’ former stand up is also a comprehensive and serious historian whose reach spans to antiquity. Or, in the case of his forays into God, even beyond—to eternity.
And it’s that impressive reach that’s on display in his latest tome, Earth (THE BOOK) A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race.
Coincidentally, I’ve lived on Earth almost my entire life (and maybe more), making me uniquely qualified to comment on the findings in this book.
Earth. Like America, only greener
Written in the same text book style as Stewart’s earlier America (THE BOOK) A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, this, uh, um…book, yeah, book…is perfect for ADHD Nation, of which I am proudly a part, (undiagnosed, and treating this with herbs and dancing). It’s got a bunch of short funny stuff to read. He he.
Intended as a kind of time capsule for a future alien race to find, helping them to make sense of the gloriously inexplicable life of humanity on earth, this txt me book offers insight into key topical areas of human and earthly life in just the kind of pithy one-liners that make it all seem palatable in the end, in spite of just how ugly it all really is.
Best of all this book is totally equal opportunity politically incorrect. Stewart and his team of researcher-writers spare no one in their unsparing, to put it solipsistically. To whit, on toilets Stewart writes, “We gave it so much. And what did we get in return? Gonorrhea.”
On women, “Once they became mothers, heretofore respectable women thought nothing of having their breasts sucked in public.” Or, as we’re referenced in Earth’s corporate section, with a picture of two business women present in a board room full of guys, “because having none looked sexist and one looked token-y. One of the two was either black or…what’s the other thing? Asian.”
On commerce, and the vagaries of the market, Stewart’s team writes, “The alternative to ‘buy low, sell high’ was often ‘jump high, land low,'” remarking on the suicides prompted by the culture of a shyster market.
Religion is an especially fun section, where to illustrate Catholic prayer Stewart notes that a mother might plead to God, “Please don’t-a-let them take-a my Johnny away. He’s a-such-a good-a-boy. He would no-a-steal-a car like-a they say! Not-a my Johnny!” Similarly, he writes of the devil, “John Milton’s Paradise Lost depicted Satan as a Fallen Angel, doomed to spend all eternity reading John Milton’s Paradise Lost.”
Science earns its stripes with Stewart’s team. They write, “PIONEERED BY ANCIENT GREEKS, developed by medieval Muslims, systematized in the Renaissance, perfected in the Enlightenment and patented by the Dupont Corporation, the scientific method improved on man’s previous tradition: making shit up. The scientific method added the crucial step of experimentation, using real world data to test a hypothesis that, if proven, would be accepted by scientists as a theory, which could then be used to get a grant, or in some cases, tenure.”
Believe me when I say that there is almost nothing that Stewart’s ranging intelligence does not tackle with a fervor in Earth. From the solar system to the earthly planet itself, from weaponry to Fascism, from village life to iphones, from sports to psychology, (oh, and Larry King’s penis), he covers it all…almost.
But I gotta tell you, I was appalled beyond appalled to see that Earth failed to include a section on energy. Whether it was the caveman’s primordial sticks rubbed together to the coal and oil bonanza fueling the last century of exponential growth, Stewart touched on energy only tangentially.
Once, in the infrastructure section he mentions nuclear energy (the immoral option) and once in the Earth section itself he references both coal and oil. On oil Stewart rightfully describes what we humans would do for it, “Invade sovereign nations; befriend enemies; construct enormous platforms in oceans; ignore incontrovertible scientific evidence; live in Texas.”
All well and good. But since it’s cheap and abundant oil that has brought us the population boom, plastic, extended World Wars I and II, Ouiji boards, movies, cars, political buttons, bull markets and about 95% of the things referenced in the book, he should have connected the dots as they say, and brought this one on home.
But I’m a forgiving sort. He can make it up to me by penning his next encyclopedic release on the topic of energy alone.
Though there are ample image credits (and I like a good picture as much as any American), there is no index, which is like, are you people stupid? How is a nation of closet stoners supposed to remember which page sh*t is on? Do you realize how effing hard it was for me to write this review without an index? Damn!
Well, fine, buy this book anyway because it’s either this, or that new textbook out of Virginia that makes Confederates out of blacks while taking the black out of bears. I like black bears.