Here is a review I wrote on amazon.com for the book "The Gardens of Democracy" by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer:
I found this book to be contradictory, incoherent, and wildly naive. An example of the contradictory nature of this book is linked to the title and depicted in the book cover's illustration. The authors switch back and forth between a garden metaphor and an ecosystem metaphor as convenient to make their points. The problem is that a garden and an ecosystem are nearly exact opposites. An ecosystem is robust, resilient, and self sustaining while a garden is what you get after you annihilate an ecosystem and plant a limited number of flora. The garden is fragile and not self-sustaining and needs constant tending. Given that parts of the book are argued using the metaphor of the garden as depicted on the front cover (notice the neat and regular rows of crops) and other parts of the book are argued using the metaphor of the ecosystem, it's not surprising to me that it seems contradictory and incoherent.
I laughed out loud several times when encountering incredibly simplistic and blatant use of strawman arguments. For example, the authors write, "Libertarianism ... rests ... on the falshood that humans are reliably and inherently rational, calculating, and selfish." Libertarianism rests on no such assumption. After setting up and beating down numerous such strawmen, the authors look across the resulting field of straw and claim that since none of the strawmen are left standing, their arguments must be right.
I cried (not literally) when I then noticed the overwhelmingly positive reception this book has gotten. The positive reception is not only from amateur reviewers such as the ones here at Amazon, but also from well known thinkers and writers such as Francis Fukuyama. As a result, I fully expect that anyone reading this negative review will treat it with suspicion and/or skepticism. That's perfectly fair and I only ask that when you read the book you do so with your eyes open and your critical thinking skills fully engaged.The good news is that I stumbled onto the book at scribd while looking for reviews so at least I didn't waste any money buying the book. The book is just yet another call for a large, activist government that "tends" the citizenship, economic, and social "gardens" (or ecosystems, depending on what page you're on) of society.