You know someone's having fun with you when, on the second page of a book, the author calls himself "a leader, not a reader." This Is Herman Cain!—which, it should be noted, is not written by Herman Cain (the uncredited authors are Jerry and Deborah Strober)—can't possibly be taken seriously. It must be some kind of joke.

Cain! begins with a narrative of growing up in the segregated South. It's a preposterous tale, a racial pornography for white conservatives who say they'd love black people if they just acted more like white people. Cain and his brother drink from a water fountain earmarked for whites. "Then we looked at each other," he—or his white ghostwriters—writes, "and said, 'You know what? The "whites only" water tastes just the same as the "coloreds" does!'" One can imagine a wealthy elderly white man reading this book while reclining on the sundeck of a Carnival Cruise ship. At that line, the reader lays the book down on his chest for a moment and allows his eyes to squeeze shut and his mouth to loll open in a paroxysm of joy—at last, a black man who admits that "separate but equal" was the way to go!

The second Cain we encounter is the flimflam man, the self-help artist. He ideates himself as "a true CEO of Self" with a three-step "ROI" plan for self-incorporation: Remove barriers, Obtain the right results, and Inspiration. In this way, in a chapter titled "Mathematics to Pepperoni," he becomes CEO of a flailing pizza franchise operation and then whittles it down to profitability. Then he develops colon and liver cancer, and the doctor explains that to treat Cain,

"I'm going to make an incision like a J."
"Like in J-E-S-U-S?" I asked.
"Yes," he said.
I replied, "A 'J' cut!"
I smiled and said, "Thank you Lord!" That's because when you are in the "Word," you can listen and hear when God is speaking to you.

This idiotic magical thinking continues in a chapter about frequent occurrences of 45, Cain's lucky number. Then, the few lines in the book Cain could possibly have written on his own come in a verse he claims to have written to celebrate the birth of his granddaughter, a poem "which I signed as The Hermanator, aka Herman Cain." (Rhymes include "life" with "right," "faces" with "place," and "arms" with "old.") As if to parade his ignorance to his readers, Cain answers his own "rhetorical question: 'When was the last time they fixed something in Washington DC?'" with "the Revolutionary War may have been the last time they did that!'" (That's impossible because Washington, DC, didn't even exist then; Congress approved the construction of Washington, DC—talk about big government!—in 1790. Also, apparently the Civil War and beating Hitler were not what Cain would consider fixes.)

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I could go on. But. He can't be serious. Can he? As a humorous fiction, I Am Herman Cain! would be one of the most hilarious books published in 2011. As a straight-up memoir, it belongs in the horror aisle. It's a put-on, and I laughed out loud several times while reading it. I mean, near the end of the book, when Cain promises to do to America "what I did when I put Burger King's Philadelphia region on the right track," he's got to be joking, isn't he? Nobody can take this seriously, right?

Right? recommended

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