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Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War (2007)

af Joe Bageant

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After thirty years spent scratching together a middle-class life out of a dirt-poor childhood, Joe Bageant moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, where he realized that his family and neighbors were the very people who carried George W. Bush to victory. That was ironic, because Winchester, like countless American small towns, is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. Two in five of the people in his old neighborhood do not have high school diplomas. Nearly everyone over fifty has serious health problems, and many have no health care. Credit ratings are low or nonexistent, and alcohol, overeating, and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 44 (næste | vis alle)
Find my extensive note and review over in my blog.

( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
Certainly a worthwhile book on the travails of the working class in America, especially the white working class, especially especially the southern white working class (Bageant is white and from a working-class Virginia family). Not every chapter hits home for me (the defense of any and all guns and the attempt to trace all white working-class American culture back to the people who lived along Hadrian's wall 500 years ago didn't convince me) but at his best, Bageant weaves together fact and anecdote to paint a picture of the myriad ways working people are screwed by everyone, left and right, in the power structure. ( )
  wearyhobo | Jun 22, 2020 |
#unreadshelfproject2020 Some interesting points brought up in this book. I already loathed Walmart and this book just added fuel to that fire. The healthcare system he describes is dead on as well. I lived in a very small town for eight years and this book is so accurate in describing it. Not my political sway, but interesting none the less. ( )
  bnbookgirl | Jan 6, 2020 |
A book about the struggling, striving, alienated, white working class. It mentions gun culture, fundamentalism, alcohol, conservative talk radio, stock car racing, bass fishing, trailer parks, country music, and the unironic celebration of redneck value.

It seems to accept the foundation myth of the origins of modern rednecks as the descendents of hillbillys descended from Scot-Irish reivers (see American Nations by Woodard or Albion's Seed by Fischer for the theory this culture has been transmitted).

It does well in looking at the hollowing out of the economy, the disappearance of jobs that reward effort, and the privileges of corporations, investors, educated persons, managers and marketers. The ethic and goal of the working person is to work hard, make some money, and survive. The managerial class wants to extract labour from workers at the lowest cost, and accuses workers of not being good enough.

The working person, like the merchant, prizes rights and condemns unfairness, perceived from the position of self-interest. Liberals and social justice warriors want the working person to sign on to causes that lead to risk and loss. Who should the working person trust not exploit or fail the working person - oligarchs, managers, marketers, academics, politicians, revolutionaries, gurus, influencers? ( )
1 stem BraveKelso | Mar 27, 2019 |
John Steinbeck: "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

This book was written shortly after Bush's reelection, as an attempt to explain why so many white working class people seemed to vote against their own interests. My hometown paper said it should be, "required reading for progressive liberals." And despite its subject being a different election, those seeking an answer to how Trump was elected have been urged to read the book. In fact, as I read some of the descriptions and beliefs in this book, I found myself wondering whether Trump had read this book, so many of the positions some of these people espoused are so close to Trump's. (Not a serious thought--I know he doesn't read). But we hear from people who want to nuke Iran and nuke North Korea, and take all the oil from the Mideast, all things Trump has advocated.

Bageant, who has been described as a "gonzo" journalist, was born and raised in Winchester, Virginia, and returned to his roots after many years of working as a reporter around the world. Bageant himself said of the book, "..it is a gonzo book intended to give the flavor of the American experience, the thinking going on, more a literary book than just another book of facts and data." I found the book to be anecdotal and very mosaic-like, rather than having a broad analytical overview, so there are not many answers here, although there are lots of thoughts and stories I would like to remember.

Here are some of them:

--The Republican myth of the "Small Businessman." These are actually the self-employed electricians, plumbers and other skilled workers construction companies don't want to hire to avoid paying Social Security, worker's compensation, and health insurance. Instead, they contract with "the small businessman", and he assumes those costs and shuffles through the farce that he is one of America's ever-growing crop of dynamic entrepeneurs.

"{I}n an obsessively religious nation, values remain the most effective smoke screen for larceny by the rich and hatred and fear by the rest. What Christians and so many quiet Americans were voting for in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 was fear of human beings culturally unlike themselves, particularly gays and lesbians and Muslims and other non-Christians." (I would add, also people of color).

One of the most eye-opening (for me) facts was that 89-94 million Americans are functionally illiterate. I've long recognized and despaired of the fact that many Trump supporters seem to live in fact-free zones. But many American adults cannot distinguish between an ad and real news. Worse, Bageant points out, the problem is that many are pretty happy just the way they are.

This was an interesting and engaging read. It sometimes seemed to be a little overblown, but the times, particularly now, may warrant that. I'm glad I read it, and if it sounds interesting to you, I can recommend it. It's just not an essential read.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jan 23, 2018 |
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After thirty years spent scratching together a middle-class life out of a dirt-poor childhood, Joe Bageant moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, where he realized that his family and neighbors were the very people who carried George W. Bush to victory. That was ironic, because Winchester, like countless American small towns, is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. Two in five of the people in his old neighborhood do not have high school diplomas. Nearly everyone over fifty has serious health problems, and many have no health care. Credit ratings are low or nonexistent, and alcohol, overeating, and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.

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