Book Review: Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me! By Jesse Ventura with Dick Russell
By Susan Johnson
With his new TruTV series Conspiracy Theory a solid hit and with the increasing level of public dissatisfaction with President Barack Obama and his programs, a look at independent Jesse Ventura may be in order. This is a review in retrospective of his book, Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me! (ISBN-13: 978-1-60239-716-3), published in 2008.
The former Minnesota governor, who managed to shake up both major political parties, takes us on a tour of Baja Mexico, where he and his wife found peace and solitude after his term in office. Ventura shares his thoughts and philosophy both before and after his term of service, and tells us what he has learned. Some parts of his message are just as timely today as when the book was written, and some of his advice seems more urgent now.
Ventura writes: “We’re losing our constitutional rights because of the so-called ‘war on terror’… What infuriates me more than anything is that it’s my generation that is now in charge. We came out of the sixties, the Vietnam era. I served over there.”
Vietnam was a war based on lies, Ventura suggests, and says it happened again with Iraq.
Ventura also mentions he believes marijuana should be legalized and regulated, just like alcohol and tobacco.
“Why is our government so secretive?” he asks. “If we are indeed a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, how come they insist upon keeping us in the dark as much as possible?”
Ventura expounds on his doubts about the official government explanation of the JFK assassination, his visit to Dallas, his philosophical problems with organized religion, especially the Catholic hierarchy’s tolerance of abuses, and other topics. He says that at first he thought George W. Bush was “a regular guy,” but later found out that Bush was not a man of his word. He also met the Clintons and spent a night in the White House. He mentions Ross Perot and his hopes for a real third-party movement and how the hope seemed to die.
Discussing his term as governor, he recalls how he and his wife discovered that their home phone line was bugged. Someone came in while they were gone and installed it on their hotline phone. It was uncovered when Jesse’s wife, Terry, opened a sliding door and saw some pieces of electrical wire. That it was a bug was confirmed by a friend who worked for the phone company; this also explained the strange clicks they had heard on the line.
Ventura also recalled being summoned to a CIA meeting soon after he became governor. He asked them, “What are you doing here? Supposedly this is the FBI’s jurisdiction. According to your original charter… you’re not supposed to be working directly within the United States.” He wondered if there were CIA operatives in other state governments, and his questions to them were not completely answered.
Ventura supported bringing China into the World Trade Organization, and he played an active role, even going on a trade mission to China. He compares the great economic strides that China has made with the situation in Cuba. We have trade agreements with one communist nation, but Ventura was discouraged from going on a trade mission to Cuba for humanitarian purposes. He went anyway, but his wife was not allowed to go with him because the U.S. government restricted her passport. He went to a trade fair in Havana and met Fidel Castro, who received him warmly. Ventura told Castro he felt the American boycott was wrong. In response to Ventura’s question about the JFK assassination, Castro told him it was an inside job planned by the U.S. government. Ventura was also tailed by CIA agents while he was there. Later on, he was appalled when President George W. Bush turned down Castro’s offer to send doctors to help when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Ventura thought it was inexcusable to turn down a gesture of help. Ventura said if he’d been president, he would have accepted graciously and sent a letter of thanks.
He shares his experience with taxes and lobbyists, how some of his practical ideas to spend money wisely were overturned by legislators. He gets into social issues, always a subject of controversy, stating his support for gay rights and acceptance of abortion as a personal decision between a woman, her family and her doctor. He lists his questions about the government’s response to 9/11, and wonders why the Air Force did not try to intercept the hijacked planes. He states, “The breakdown in standard procedure on 9/11 was unprecedented, uninvestigated, and unaccountable.”
He reviews his life after leaving office, things he has learned, things he would like to do, and especially how his perspective has changed as he and his wife adopted a new, less stressful lifestyle. Some of his views have changed since the book was written (such as his opinion on global warming), but the reader can see that this is a man who is not static, always searching for answers, always learning as he goes along. He has a new book out, and his TV series has been renewed, so we’ve certainly not heard the last of Jesse Ventura. This and his other books are available on amazon.com.
From the March 24-30, 2010 issue
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