Written by Adam Begley and Illustrated by Edward Sorel
Published by Harmony Books

We all have our moments when we say things we feel sure about, only to see that certainty blow up in our faces and make us look foolish. But some people take that sense of being right way beyond anything reasonable or rational… and that’s what this book is all about.

CERTITUDE is aptly named (and let’s be honest- they could have called it “People Are Total Assholes” but it wouldn’t have sold quite as well), focusing on and recounting the follies of politicians, religious leaders, Hollywood stars, famous writers, and more. Whether discussing Pope Urban II’s leading the troops into the Crusades or Martin Luther taking some time away from the reformation to engage in high level anti-Semitism; Arthur Conan Doyle’s belief in faeries or Ayn Rand’s failure to follow her own Objectivist dogma; or Madonna’s Kabbalah conversion and Tom Cruise’s Scientology ties, this book covers it all. And no one comes out of it looking very good. Not at all.

There’s a whimsical lilt to Begley’s prose telling of these personal idiocies, and it’s matched well by the fanciful aspects to Sorel’s page illustrations. It can be difficult to blend the illustrations into a work of prose; timing and placement are critical. But CERTITUDE does so adeptly.

I suspect this is the kind of book that will do well with readers who enjoy listening to NPR and engaging in literate and political discussion. At twenty bucks, it fits well within the budget, and it serves as a gentle reminder to never get too full of yourself and your belief in the justness of your cause. Because there’s usually something waiting around the corner to make you look intensely stupid. So while I think this is a pretty decent book… who knows? Maybe somewhere down the road, I’ll be proved to be quite wrong.

Marc Mason