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The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves, and Beggared the Nationby Thomas Frank
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 07:30 PM
Powell's City of Books on Burnside, Portland, OR
There's never been a better time to be outside the consensus — and if you don't believe it, then peer into the genre-defying essays in No Future for You: Salvos from 'The Baffler' (MIT). The Baffler founding editor Thomas Frank and editor-in-chief John Summers will be joined by contributor and political historian Rick Perlstein to unleash a fresh round of political invective.
Synopses & Reviews
From the author of the landmark bestseller What's the Matter with Kansas?, a jaw-dropping investigation of the decades of deliberate — and lucrative — conservative misrule.
In his previous book, Thomas Frank explained why working America votes for politicians who reserve their favors for the rich. Now, in The Wrecking Crew, Frank examines the blundering and corrupt Washington those politicians have given us.
Casting back to the early days of the conservative revolution, Frank describes the rise of a ruling coalition dedicated to dismantling government. But rather than cutting down the big government they claim to hate, conservatives have simply sold it off, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war. Washington itself has been remade into a golden landscape of super-wealthy suburbs and gleaming lobbyist headquarters--the wages of government-by-entrepreneurship practiced so outrageously by figures such as Jack Abramoff.
It is no coincidence, Frank argues, that the same politicians who guffaw at the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule. Nor will the country easily shake off the consequences of deliberate misgovernment through the usual election remedies. Obsessed with achieving a lasting victory, conservatives have taken pains to enshrine the free market as the permanent creed of state.
Stamped with Thomas Frank's audacity, analytic brilliance, and wit, The Wrecking Crew is his most revelatory work yet — and his most important.
"A no-holds-barred exegesis on the naked cynicism of conservatism in America." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Glorious....Often brilliant....Franks gloom is leavened by an eye for the unexpected and the absurd."Los Angeles Times
"Well-researched and witty....Provides a powerful liberal antidote to the high-volume rantings of Bill OReilly, Ann Coulter and Fox News." Seattle Post-Intelligencer
"Franks gifts as a social observer are on display....His analysis of why there are so many libertarian think tanks in a country with so few libertarians is dead on. In Thomas Frank, the American left has found its own Juvenal." The New York Times Book Review
"Frank offers one damning anecdote after another. The Wrecking Crew explains how cynical conservatives have wrested control of the government by railing against its very existence, all while using federal perches to funnel billions into the pockets of lobbyists and the corporations they represent."Time
"Tom Frank has hold of something real. The Wrecking Crew can be good, spirited fun. Frank captures a quality of exuberant bullying in those of his conservative subjects he knows well enough to identify individually, rather than categorically." The New Yorker
"Franks sentences inhale and unfurl with a wit and verve...."The New York Observer
"Conservatives in office have made their share of blunders and mistakes, and Frank is at his finest in depicting some of the stunning instances of hypocrisy and idiocy in the period of Republican rule." The New York Post
"Smart, thoroughly researched, and written with wit and panache." The Wichita Eagle
"A superb follow-up to What's The Matter with Kansas?... Thorough reporting and incisive historical analysis. With genuine outrage and blasts of polemic, but Frank never allows The Wrecking Crew to become just another seething right- or left-wing political tract preaching to the choir." The Oregonian
From the most astute political scoffer since H. L. Mencken, the definitive account of the conservative reign of misrule and corruption.
Hailed as a “hunk of dynamite” (Salon) and celebrated for its “satiric wit” (The New York Times Book Review) and “delighted outrage” (The New Republic), The Wrecking Crew supplies the first and — lacking future fact-finding commissions — probably the only full reckoning of what conservatism has wrought.
Casting his eyes from the Bush administrations final months of plunder to the earliest days of the Republican revolution, Thomas Frank uncovers the deep logic behind the graft and incompetence of conservatives in power. He shows how leaders dedicated to a doctrine of government by entrepreneurship proceeded to sell off the state, channeling the profits to cronies and loyalists. He surveys the federal agencies doomed to failure by the inept and even hostile staff appointed to run them. He charts the practice of wholesale deregulation and the devastating results now clear for all to see. From political scandal to mortgage meltdown, Frank documents the consequences of enshrining the free market as the logic of the state.
As conservatives retreat to lick their wounds and a new administration prepares to undo the years of misgovernment, The Wrecking Crew makes clear the challenges before the nation. A brilliant and audacious stock-taking — now thoroughly revised and updated — this is Franks most revelatory work yet.
About the Author
Thomas Frank is the author of What's the Matter with Kansas? and One Market Under God. The founding editor of The Baffler and a contributing editor at Harpers, Frank has received a Lannan award and been a columnist for The Wall Street Journal. He lives, of course, in Washington, D.C.
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History and Social Science » American Studies » Culture Wars