Caligula for President: Better American Living Through Tyranny

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Press: Bloomsbury USA (October 14, 2008)
Author Name:Wilson, Cintra


In this inventive and biting satire, acclaimed novelist and cultural critic Cintra Wilson reimagines America's Manifest Destiny as helmed by Caligula, the only leader in world history capable of turning our floundering democracy into a fully functioning―and totally fun―tyranny, both here and abroad. 
With Caligula running the show, America will finally be able to achieve what the founding fathers really wanted, but never had the nerve to admit.
Like, how to: -Achieve the guilt-free looting of natural resources for the sake of immediate gratification; -Declare war on abstract concepts (drugs, terror, the ocean) for the sake of imperial expansion;-Utilize propaganda, psychological operations, and other prisoner-of-war techniques to create a sense of learned helplessness in the citizenry, gain their utterly terrified trust and obedience―and leave them begging for more;-Rape, pillage, and loot―both here and abroad―with impunity Wilson also traces the historical arc of Caligula's life and not-so-hard times, from his privileged childhood in Syria to his ascent to power to his eventual takedown by the hands of an angry populace, to point out the unsettling parallels between his own extravagant reign and a certain administration, which helped usher in a new golden age of unlimited executive power.
Part political parable, part cautionary tale, Caligula for President is an ingenious and hilarious send-up of the current state of our Union by one of this generation's sharpest satirists.

About the Author

Cintra Wilson is the author of the acclaimed novel Colors Insulting to Nature. 
She is also a pop culture pundit whose column for and collection of essays, A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque Crippling Disease, have garnered her a cult following.
An award-winning playwright and screenwriter, she has seen her work produced by Tim Robbins's Actor's Gang theater company in Los Angeles, Naked Angels in New York, and MTV, where her creation Winter Steele was a long-running segment of Liquid Television.
She lives in New York City.


Humor & Entertainment,Humor,Political,Literature & Fiction,Genre Fiction,United States,Humor

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Comment List (Total:9)

  •     a true sage of the agesa bit more eclectic than her previous booksshe has her finger on the pulse of reality---the problem is that no one is listening...
  •     Someone told me this book was hisarious, and it can be, but it is a little too politically pointed to continue to be funny over the whole reading of the book.In many ways it's negatively charged, and reinforces a problem centered world view. I guess that's not so bad in a problem-charged world.I ended up not sure of the "facts" as factual.
  •     Swift, Twain, Bierce, Parker... move over, there's a new sniper on the rooftop, and her satirical crosshairs are dangerously accurate. Cintra Wilson's Caligula for President is as whimsical and deadly serious as any satire that's come out in decades. And, like her protagonist, Wilson fears no one and takes on all comers: Republicans, hippies, religious zealots, the ACLU, Americans[!], whoever, whatever. The lefties will take this to its bosom, while rightwingers will nod in approval about Caligula's implicit suspicions of "big gummint" as it is. And yet, she is attacking both sides with glee.Ostensibly an attack on the dismantling of the Constitution by the Bush II regime, Wilson is not so blinkered that she can't see the hypocrisy in just about everything. And she is astute enough to know that the desire of the American Ruling Class to be Caligula-like is nothing new. Funny thing is that, well, it's funny. People on the subway look at me like I'm nuts when I laugh out loud at just about every page.And then, OUCH, that hurts. A random point in case: Caligula describes how he turned his failed attack on Britain into a PR coup by bringing back seashells from the French coast, and claiming he had defeated Neptune and captured his treasure. And then, pow, "America has killed the ocean, too." Every page has something to think about and laugh about. Caligula for President gets my vote.
  •     "A Massive Swelling" was full of snarky fun and "Colors Insulting to Nature" had a memorable message about tempering dreams with reality.
  •     Her wit, sharp tongue and perspective translate so well in print. A fantastic book, cover to cover. I would definitely recommend it as well as Cintras other books. She's great!
  •     So absolutely spot on that in the moments when I wasn't laughing out loud I was terrified. Confirms what you have always suspected way down deep in your lizard brain.
  •     This was one of those books that, once I saw the title, I just *had* to read it. Although it didn't turn out to be a surrealist alternate-future metafiction, like the Thursday Next stories, which was what I was expecting, I wasn't disappointed.There's no plot, the only character is Caligula, and the bulk of the book is his argument for the inevitability and superiority of heaven-sanctioned totalitarian rule to democracy. This Caligula argues that he's the best choice for America, not because he will refrain from gross abuses of power, but because he admits freely that he will immediately begin to remove all freedoms. At least we'd know what we were getting.Under the Caligula administration, he would be the only recognized god, thereby eliminating all current religous strife. He argues that it is phyisically impossible for a ruler with any amount of power to practice self-restraint, and cites a staggering number of examples, both ancient and recent.Although at times Caligula for President reads less like tongue-in-cheek humor than a diatribe of Cintra Wilson's political views and displeasure with the Bush administration, the majority is spot-on, satirical and very funny. Forget the War on Terror, Caligula fought the ocean. Was it really madness to promote a horse to a Senatorial seat? Or was it a stroke of preemptive genius to keep would-be usurpers out? Caligula for President has some brilliant insights into modern government and economics drawn from one of history's most infamous despots. And that's either really funny or really sad.
  •     I have been a fan of Cintra's work ever since she was a regular columnist with the San Francisco Examiner. All of her books have been thoughtful, insightful, poignant and scathingly funny. Caligula for President is no exception. Writing like a postmodern, female version of Hunter S. Thompson meets H.L. Mencken, Cintra mercilessly hunts down painful truths and then nails them to a literary cross to hold up to scorn. Her indictment of the corporatization of American politics and the growing trend to the right, veering towards fascism, is a blueprint for what we do not want in a leader. Now that Donald Trump appears to have clinched the nomination, this book is more relevant than ever.
  •     I've never seen so many zingers in a single book. There's no denying that Cintra Wilson is an excellent writer with a serrated edge, and although this was a very entertaining read, I didn't really get much out of it. It reminds me of a Dave Barry book in that it's a lot of fun while you're reading it, but it's not at all thought-provoking. The style of humor is about as far away from Dave Barry as you can possibly get, too - Ms. Wilson writes in the most sarcastic, venomous voice I have ever seen. I would hate to be on the opposing side of an argument with her, because this is the kind of writing that can shrink your 'nads. The book's central conceit is clever (the whole thing is delivered in the first person by the Roman emperor Caligula), but once you get past all the stylish wording I don't think there's anything truly substantial here beyond the author's political views (which, for the record, I'm in pretty much total agreement with). So that's why I'm only giving it four stars instead of five. If you enjoy gleefully mean writing and just want a breezy couple hundred pages, go for it. If you want something deep, pass.(Be forewarned that if you voted Republican, there's an excellent chance you will hate this book within the first ten pages.)

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