The Day America Told the Truth – James Patterson and Peter Kim

The Day America Told the Truth by James Patterson, Peter Kim
Also by this author: 1st to Die, 2nd Chance, 3rd Degree, The Horsewoman, 4th of July, The 5th Horseman, The 6th Target, 7th Heaven, The 8th Confession, The 9th Judgment, The Second American Revolution: The People's Plan for Fixing America-Before Its Too Late
Published by Plume on June 1, 1992
Genres: Non-Fiction
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The result of a national survey on private morals, this look at America's deepest secrets reveals shocking confessions by Americans about their views on sex, crime, punishment, rape, the death penalty,

Not seeing much success in the fiction writing department, James Patterson turned to his advertising career and non-fiction to keep his name on bookstore shelves. In 1991, he—along with advertising associate Peter Kim—published a book called The Day America Told the Truth. The authors put together a national study on morality and other topics, surveying over 2,000 people nationwide. According to the back cover copy, it exposes “America’s deepest secrets reveals shocking confessions by Americans about their views on sex, crime, punishment, rape, the death penalty.”

While it purports to be an academic study, and has some of the trappings of actual research methodology, the relatively low sample size, the lack of discussion of precedent literature, there being no academic oversight of the study, and several other factors expose the book for what it is: a marketing tool. Perhaps to be expected from two advertising executives. It did successfully put Patterson on the NYT bestseller’s list and just maybe got publishers to take a second look at his unpublished Along Came A Spider manuscript.

The study is doom and gloom, with woe-is-me language about the degradation of society and a wistful desire to go back to the good ol’ days of the 1950s. Patterson and Kim’s claims are remarkable. On the inside of the front cover flap, they state “You are holding in your hands the most accurate, fascinating, and alarming portrait of the American people ever assembled between the covers of a book.” The concepts they discuss are far-ranging: ethics/values, sex, men and women, violence, work, community, religion, and the American life. They conclude with 54 revelations, and, in interest of brevity we can just look at those.

Among their claims are that

“There is absolutely no moral consensus in this country—as there was in the 1950s and 1960s.”

“The official crime statistics in the United States are off by more than 600 percent. Sixty percent of us have been victims of a major crime.”

“The number of sociopaths is increasing at a dizzying rate.”

“Hardcore racism is on the decline everywhere.”

“The majority of Americans are malingerers, procrastinators, or substance abusers at work.”

The whole book is easily manipulated pseudo-facts on little verifiable basis, but far-ranging and inconsistent enough that any person from any political or social opinion can cite something in it to back up their pre-existent biases. The Day America Told the Truth would better be termed The Day James Patterson Published Sensationalist Literature. I’m sure there are some accuracies and truths in this book and it probably does reflect the small sample size from the study, but it was meant to be edgy at the time and now, thirty years later, is completely irrelevant.