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Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class Warby Joe Bageant
Synopses & Reviews
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.
A raucous mix of storytelling and political commentary, Deer Hunting with Jesus is Bageant's report on what he learned by coming home. He writes of his childhood friends who work at factory jobs that are constantly on the verge of being outsourced; the mortgage and credit card rackets that saddle the working poor with debt, i.e., "white trashonomics" the ubiquitous gun culture — and why the left doesn't get it; Scots Irish culture and how it played out in the young life of Lynddie England; and the blinkered "magical thinking" of the Christian right. (Bageant's brother is a Baptist pastor who casts out demons.) What it adds up to, he asserts, is an unacknowledged class war. By turns brutal, tender, incendiary, and seriously funny, this book is a call to arms for fellow progressives with little real understanding of "the great beery, NASCAR-loving, church-going, gun-owning America that has never set foot in a Starbucks."
Deer Hunting with Jesus is a potent antidote to what Bageant dubs "the American hologram" — the televised, corporatized virtual reality that distracts us from the insidious realities of American life.
"Written as a wake-up and rallying call for progressives, the work is decidedly partisan. Bageant's writing is witty, bilious, tender, and cruel by turns." Library Journal
"Brilliant....Joe Bageant evokes working class America like no one else." Howard Zinn
"Joe Bageant writes like an avenging angel." Mark Crispin Miller
"A raging, hilarious, and profane love song to the great American redneck." Sherman Alexie
"Deer Hunting with Jesus is one of those rare books that is colorful, depressing, hilarious, and biting all at the same time. Joe Bageant has given us a glimpse into the vicious class war that is too often ignored or hidden by those happily perpetrating this war." David Sirota, author of Hostile Takeover
Web columnist Bageant takes readers on a raucous tour through the taverns, churches, and double-wide trailers of the invisible working class — the very people who carried George W. Bush to victory — offering a vivid and sobering snapshot of a nation on the brink of catastrophe.
About the Author
Joe Bageant writes an online column (www.joebageant.com) that has made him a cult hero among gonzo-journalism junkies and progressives. He has been interviewed on "Air America" and comments on America's long history of religious fundamentalism in the BBC/Owl documentary The Vision: Americans on America. Until recently he worked as a senior editor for the Primedia History Magazine Group. Bageant and his wife recently downsized their lives in America so that Joe could spend half the year in Belize, where he writes and sponsors a small development project with the Black Carib families of Hopkins Village.
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