I don't read political nonfiction. Don't generally like it. I usually find that people spout ideology without bothering to back up any of their assertions, which basically just makes me angry.
So it was with some trepidation that I read Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant. Surprisingly (or perhaps not, given that it tends to support my view that the lower income Republican base has no idea that they are supporting a party that consistently works against their best interests), I really liked this book.
Bageant doesn't come across as shrill and angry like most of the political commentators I've seen and heard. I think it helps that he knows the people he's writing about. After leaving his hometown to pursue a career as a journalist, he returned in his late 50s to find that many of the people he grew up with were decidedly worse off than they had been. His view of the red state working poor and what motivates them is really an interesting read.
In some respects, this reminded me of reading Bill Bryson, but with a more political bent, in that Bageant is a storyteller who is also an affable guy. He wants to talk to people, to hear their stories, and to try to make sense of them.
I was disappointed to find out that Bageant passed away last year, but I look forward to reading his previous work.
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