Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant

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.


Jess said...

I'm with you, in that political works usually give me a headache. However, this one does sound interesting. The saddest thing is how thoroughly confused the Republicans have made these people.

Crash said...

I think the moral of this book is that there are just a lot of people out there who are completely incurious when it comes to things that, although affecting their lives, are not as obviously part of their day to day lives as reality TV or fast food is.

J&T said...

This book nails it. Coming upon it a few years back while browsing was like stepping into Bambi's meadow--BAM! Hope the play adaptation makes it to Broadway...soon! We miss you, Joe.

Anonymous said...

Bageant was one of the rare truth tellers who represented working class America. He is sorely missed. And he knew the people he was writing about, he died with a redneck. Keep in mind his critique of the Republicans also extends to the Democrats and the anti-democratic and oppressive two party system of control over working class Americans. You could do much worse going through Bageant's writings on the web and elsewhere. Here's a great primer on his notion of the national hologram.

The truth will set you free but it will piss you off first.