• Gumption

  • Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers
  • By: Nick Offerman
  • Narrated by: Nick Offerman
  • Length: 11 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (5,268 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

The star of Parks and Recreation and author of the New York Times best seller Paddle Your Own Canoe returns with a second book that humorously highlights 21 figures from our nation's history, from her inception to present day - Nick's personal pantheon of "great Americans".

To millions of people, Nick Offerman is America. Both Nick and his character, Ron Swanson, are known for their humor and patriotism in equal measure.

After the great success of his autobiography Paddle Your Own Canoe, Offerman now focuses on the lives of those who inspired him. From George Washington to Willie Nelson, he describes 21 heroic figures and why they inspire in him such great meaning. He'll combine both serious history with light-hearted humor - comparing, say, George Washington's wooden teeth to his own experience as a woodworker. The subject matter will also allow Offerman to expound upon his favorite topics, which listeners love to hear - areas such as religion, politics, woodworking and handcrafting, agriculture, creativity, philosophy, fashion, and, of course, meat.

©2015 Nick Offerman (P)2015 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Gumption

Average Customer Ratings
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Too much lecturing

Many of the other reviews have said the same: the beginning of the book is interesting, telling stories of Americans with gumption with humor. But then the book devolves into Mr Offerman lecturing the reader/listener. If you agree with his opinions (which I often did) his relentless lecturing gets boring and oppressive, and if you do not agree (which I did on other subjects), then he certainly comes off as uninformed and wildly arrogant. The stories stop being about Americans with real gumption but turn into platforms for Mr. Offerman's opinions.

26 people found this helpful

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Seriously?

The book started off well, but quickly devolved from a book about 'people who had gumption' to 'I have a lot of famous friends, let me tell you about them.' If you practice any kind of religion, if you are white, or male, have ever owned a firearm, or are anywhere near conservative in your beliefs, prepare to be shamed.

45 people found this helpful

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loved his other books, skip this one

I'm a fan of the author. I have enjoyed his other works. However I was not a fan of this one. just too much mixing of subjective opinions and occasional facts. I prefer either opinions or facts. not both.

27 people found this helpful

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Swagger and mirth

Nick Offerman sold me on this book when I read that it would feature Theodore Roosevelt, Carol Burnett and Jeff Tweedy. I like Offerman -- you know where you stand with guys like him, and you know where guys like him stand on issues.
Each chapter details the lives and heroism of its subjects. Offerman makes strong cases for each person he picked, and uses their gumption as a springboard for his own views on politics, religion, comedy, the environment, and a host of other issues.

Offerman is likable and his main points -- that we need to be people of courage and kindness -- are timely and poignant.
What I didn't like about the book is that Offerman takes the opportunity in nearly every chapter to lay out his case about the same few topics. Certain types of religious folks, especially evangelical Christians, are the subject of many of these rants. The other thing that I struggled with is that his modern heroes are all his buddies or folks he already admired in some way. He wasn't moved by discovery very often, so the reader doesn't get the thrill of discovery with him. I agree with him that this type of book is "necessarily subjective," but the later chapters lack the freshness and enthusiasm as the earlier ones, simply because more research and discovery were involved.

60 people found this helpful

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It was just ok

I love Nick Offerman. He and I agree on a ton of things, but this book just isn't one of them. It was well written and listening to him made it ok, but it just felt a little too preachy for my taste.

18 people found this helpful

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Started out good but faded quickly

The first few chapters were fascinating and very well done. However the rest of the chapters devolved into sarcastic and left leaning political commentary. I couldn’t make it through the book.

22 people found this helpful

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Entertaining, but Offerman loses his way

Gumption is humorous. Not uproarious nor silly, neither cerebral nor aloof, the book is exactly what you'd expect from a self-aware, but decidedly out of touch celebrity.

Offerman is an entertaining writer, but he struggles to balance the character he has created for himself and the man behind his mask. In speaking of his character, I'm not referring to Ron Swanson, his famous alter-ego from "Parks & Recreation." Offerman has carefully crafted a character he portrays in public for television interviews and public appearances; he's a rugged individualist who prides himself on labor, craftsmanship and (somehow related) independent thought. He lauds such attributes in characters from America's past and some of his contemporaries.

It is when he gets to contemporary figures where he loses the plot. I love Conan O'Brien and find him to be a quite humorous man; I likewise think Wilco is brilliant. I can't, however, imagine a scenario where there accomplishments would be stacked up against America's "gutsiest troublemakers" like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin James Madison and Elenor Roosevelt. The gravitas of the opening chapters so greatly overshadows the relative lightweights of the closing cast of characters as to render the overall point of the book almost nullified. Too bad. It starts great, but ends weak.

22 people found this helpful

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Inspirational

I am big fan of Nick Offerman and his works. Even more so now. I am not much of a reader, mainly because I find myself dozing off after a page or two of any book, so audio is definitely my favorite option. The author's voice is very pleasant I must say. -Nick, if things don't work out with Mr. Tweedy, I would gladly take his place. haha. However, I am also a heterosexual and married to and outstanding woman whom I still sometimes don't understand how I managed to land- While I cannot say I agree with 100% of his political views, I respect and can understand his opinions. And as I've learned, I feel the author would nod in approval. I enjoyed the bits of history and will be researching more about the lives of the people on his list.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding the importance of progressing the "togetherness of humankind". From this book, and his last, I have grow in maturity and have truly come to know myself better; or at least now I have a better way to explain how I really feel about religion and the world.

I rate this book a 5 across the board. Nick is a great story teller and I do hope he will be writing another soon.

16 people found this helpful

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Feels like a nice intelligent chat

Enjoyable and made me think
Less humor more thought than first book but overall still a great listen

19 people found this helpful

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Starts strong, ends weak

I love the author, and he starts off strong with witty and insightful explorations of historical figures. Unfortunately he then veers off into significantly lesser known individuals (a maker of hand tools, really?), and things fall apart. Not only are the subjects of interest only to the author, he begins using the individuals being profile simply as launch points for his political beliefs. It was hardly about the individuals at all. I have no problem with the author's political leanings, it simply isn't what this book was sold as, nor was it what I wanted to hear.

He should have stuck to exploring the lives of those with great gumption, and found some more folks with wider appeal than wooden boat builders and obscure artists with no particularly compelling story.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Angieflibble
  • 12-03-16

Fascinating

I absolutely loved this book. The first half was filled with names I knew and stories about them I didn't. I'm not American so Eleanor Roosevelt was just a President's wife until this.

The second half of the book I was absolutely entranced by. There is nothing quite like listening to an enthusiast talk on their favourite subject. I find it utterly fascinating. If you had told me that I would have stayed sitting in the car listening to the end of a chapter on a guy who makes hand tools for woodwork I would have laughed in your face but somehow the genuine passion and respect that he has for the chosen subjects absolutely hooked me.

I have recommended this book to just about everyone I have spoken to since I finished it. I recommend it to you too.

3 people found this helpful

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  • James
  • 11-29-16

A matter of taste

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed the first half of this book a lot, Offerman is funny and it's always enjoyable to hear an irreverent take on historical characters.

My issue with the book is with the second half, where Offerman focuses on heroes from his own life. The humour is dropped almost entirely for an earnest homage to people who have been important in his life, mostly artists, writers and musicians and combined with a constant repetition of his somewhat cliche message that we should all live a simpler life.

This is fine, and some people will enjoy it I'm sure, but it's not clear from the description that half the book is stories about a load of contemporary artists that I have never heard of (bar Yoko) and probably wouldn't like anyway. Combined with the not-as-clever-as-he-thinks-it-is lifestyle messaging it was enough to stop me finishing the book.

One the plus side Offerman's narration is as excellent as you would expect and if the subject matter is to your taste you'll probably enjoy it a lot.

2 people found this helpful

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  • swicketts
  • 01-18-17

a great listen

Nick Offermans book is brilliant, it's funny and informative, and he gives a great insight into the American hero's. I'd happily listen to nick read a phone book or maybe a menu

1 person found this helpful

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  • Skegg
  • 08-04-15

One for Offerman / Swanson fans.

If you have read 'Paddle Your Own Canoe' or watched 'American Ham' and enjoyed them, this is one for you.

Essentially, Nick takes us through a selection of his American heroes who have displayed Gumption in their achievements. This starts with some of the the usual suspects in a few historical greats which I found interesting as an Englishman with a limited knowledge of American history and then takes us on a journey of more contemporary or obscure individuals, many of whom you will feel the need to discover more about. I can absolutely say that as a result of this book, I have a hunger to learn more about Frederick Douglass - what a legend!

I especially enjoyed Nick's reasons for choosing his subjects, not so much for what they achieved as how they achieved what they did.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I liked listening to something clearly aimed at Americans, but openly exploring some of the more shameful elements of American history and current affairs whilst openly celebrating those special things about the country and it's trailblazers. He has an honesty that I was not expecting and I found his writing quite refreshing.

I'd recommend this to anyone who liked Nick before, I suspect that you will like him (and probably the USA) even more when you have finished the book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 04-20-21

It's slow starting but comes into its own

I did find it grating to begin with as he too reverently lauds only slightly impressive achievements with mild to absent comic relief. It does improve towards the end of the Founding Father's chapters and the humour comes back into it. It feels more inspired than forced as he talks about those he has interests in common with, such as Theodore Roosevelt, rather than venerating someone for making a list of attributes they'd like to embody or casually explaining away their slave ownership. I do feel that Paddle your own Canoe was better though; it's a lot funnier, much more compelling a read and more original. This doesn't quite reach those heights as it attempts to capture the style of humour which made that one so memorable, but it is an interesting read, especially if you like the author, and is informative as he takes us through the individuals he feels showed a strong will and work ethic, combined with original thought within their lives.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-13-21

Delightful

Just brilliant and engaging. Just like all of his books/readings.

Keep them coming! thank you

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-24-21

A pleasure as always

Ensure you take the time to enjoy the audio book to really saviour the dulcet tones of Mr Nick Offerman, they go down like a smooth glass of lagavulin. The book is really eye opening into some of the more lesser known historical figures selected by Mr Offerman. It really has inspired me to show more gumption in my daily life, the tales are those of American figures with gumption and as a Brit I still enjoyed it.

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  • Kenneth Martin
  • 10-13-20

Humour with a bit of Gumption

A good listen and can't wait to read the book. Humour with a bit of history

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  • Humf
  • 10-04-20

A lesson well taught

Even as a UK listener, I thoroughly enjoyed the 21 chapters of American's with gumption. Enough to go off and read more about them. Even more special to hear 'Birkenhead Park' mentioned, raised a few minutes away from this beautifully designed park where I spent my childhood and knew of the importance of it to Central Park. Loved how Nick wove the chapters into one another, allied with his love of woodworking. Its gone 3am and I've just listened to the last 6hrs. A look in the eye and a firm handshake to celebrate a job well done Mr Offerman.

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  • james Mitchell
  • 08-28-19

Offerman offering excellent ear offal...

excellent as always. a great insight and interesting listen. highly recommend, especially if you love the authors other works...

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  • Mick
  • 06-14-20

Nick is Amazing

Nick is one of the greatest storytellers of our generation! The way he delivers this book with humour and intelligence is divine!! Definitely read this book, or if you can't read...listen to this book! You will be much better for it! Oh and by the way, read (or listen) to his other book as well. Paddle Your Own Canoe is just as brilliant.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Adrianne Jerrett
  • 09-03-16

Inspiring

I think this book has something for everyone and contains important lessons and ponderings we all need to hear. The stories of the people contained in this book are bound to inspire you to find your own gumption. I know they have helped encourage me and solidified my motivation to follow my passions instead of trudging through my day job forever. Thank you for this collection of stories compiled in a witty manner Nick. Thank yoy

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-17-18

Engaging and intelligent

Well read and excellent content. Gained a better understanding of American history and figures. A must read.

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  • Adam Christie
  • 10-26-18

It’s a yes from me. That’s 3 yes’s.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The reader is always in good hands with an Offerman offering. He introduced me to some great thinkers and artists here, that had me paddling up side tributaries to try Wilco, Wendell Berry, Michael Pollan and others for myself, then returning to the flow of Gumption to find another fork in the river to investigate. Berry’s “A Distant Land” on Audible is excellent. Nick’s style is all his own and I will definitely be checking out his next book.

Thanks, Nick!!!!

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  • jdk
  • 02-27-17

Wise, Funny, Inspiring

Mr Offerman, in his book gumption selects a cabal of America's best to whimsically suggest a path forward in this age of alt-virtue.

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  • Anne Garland
  • 07-31-16

terrible

don't bother. boring
just found the book to a total waste of time and waste of money