by Diane Schroeder


“Gumption. Common sense, mother wit, shrewdness.” – Oxford English Dictionary


Most people know Nick Offerman as the character Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation. In addition to being an actor, Offerman is a writer, producer, and woodworker. His book Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers is about 21 people from American history whom he believes had/has gumption. He writes about people we all learn about in school, like George Washington, and present day people, like Conan O’Brien, connecting his own experiences with those of the past. 

The book is more enjoyable than informational. I enjoyed the stories and how Offerman connects his own stories to people of the past. I enjoyed reading about his personal stories as well as the people he writes about. Personally, I like learning about different peoples’ experiences. I learned new things about people of history that I already knew, and I learned about people who I didn’t know. I’m going to look up more information about them. I appreciate that the people that were not just from the past but also from the present. 

Offerman has a habit of going on tangents, and in some chapters I was taken out of the story he was telling. In later chapters I wish he would have talked more about why the people he picked had “gumption.” When he writes about more current people the stories are less about the actual people with gumption and more about how he met them. 

I was a little disappointed by this book. When I picked it out I thought it was going to be more informational than personal. It’s an enjoyable read, but if you are interested in a person in this book, you might want to pick another more informational book to read so you can learn more about them.