Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers
By Nick Offerman
Penguin Publishing Group: 2015, 400 pages. Nonfiction
In his sophomore effort, writer, actor, and woodworker Nick Offerman (who stars as Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation) explores the profiles of 21 Americans he finds personally inspiring, whom he’s labeled as having “gumption”. Offerman eases the reader into his list with some notable figures from American history, like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Eleanor Roosevelt, retelling some familiar stories, embellished with his humorous quips. He then moves on to modern personal heros, the likes of artist Yoko Ono, writer Wendell Barry, musician Jeff Tweedy, and landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead to name a few. Offerman had the unique opportunity of meeting many of the living ‘Americans with gumption’, and we as readers live vicariously through his giddy-ness and star struck reaction.
It is not many a book that has me reaching for the dictionary as often as this one did. Offerman’s vocabulary is as broad as the professions and contributions of the people on his list. His intelligence and thoughtful contemplative nature shine through as he recounts his experiences and the ways in which those he details have influenced him personally.
I listened to the audiobook version of this title, which I would highly recommend. It is read by Offerman himself and you can hear the sarcasm, wit, and reflection in his voice, as well as some giggling and chortling at times, which made the experience that much more enjoyable.