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What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of Americaby Thomas Frank
Synopses & Reviews
With a new afterword by the author
The New York Times bestseller, praised as "hilariously funny...the only way to understand why so many Americans have decided to vote against their own economic and political interests" (Molly Ivins)
Hailed as "dazzlingly insightful and wonderfully sardonic" (Chicago Tribune), "very funny and very painful" (San Francisco Chronicle), and "in a different league from most political books" (the New York Observer), What's the Matter with Kansas? unravels the great political mystery of our day: Why do so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests? With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank answers the riddle by examining his home state, Kansas-a place once famous for its radicalism that now ranks among the nation's most eager participants in the culture wars. Charting what he calls the "thirty-year backlash" — the popular revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment — Frank reveals how conservatism, once a marker of class privilege, became the creed of millions of ordinary Americans.
A brilliant analysis — and funny to boot — What's the Matter with Kansas? is a vivid portrait of an upside-down world where blue-collar patriots recite the Pledge while they strangle their life chances; where small farmers cast their votes for a Wall Street order that will eventually push them off their land; and where a group of frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs has managed to convince the country that it speaks on behalf of the People.
"A fire-and-brimstone essay on false consciousness on the Great Plains....A bracing, unabashedly partisan, and very smart work of red-state trendspotting." Kirkus Reviews
"Clued-in and critical, Kansas native Tom Frank offers a clear-eyed perspective on the rise of social conservatives within the Republican Party, and the sometimes upside-down world of right-wing populism. Bringing together solid reportorial skills and sharp memories of his Kansas youth, Frank combines top-flight journalism with first-person reflections to dig deep into the Kansas psyche. Both exhilarating and a little scary, What's the Matter with Kansas? should help flat-landers and coastal types alike understand how traditional Republicanism gave way to the politics of the Christian Right in the heart of the heart of the country." Burdett Loomis, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas
"A heartland populist, Frank is hilariously funny on what makes us red-staters different from blue-staters (not), and he actually knows evangelical Christians, antiabortion activists, gun-nuts, and Bubbas. I promise y'all, this is the only way to understand why so many Americans have decided to vote against their own economic and political interests. And Frank explores the subject with scholarship, understanding, passion, and — thank you, Mark Twain — such tart humor." Molly Ivins
"Mr. Frank's willingness to scold his own side; his irreverence and his facility with language; his ability to make the connections that other writers fail to make — all of this puts What's the Matter with Kansas? in a different league from most of the political books that have come out in recent years." Kevin Canfield, The New York Observer
"This is the true story of how conservatives punk'd a nation. Tom Frank has stripped the right-wing hustle to its core: It is bread and circuses — only without bread. Written like poem, every line in its perfect place, What's the Matter with Kansas? is the best new book I've read in years, on any subject." Rick Perlstein, author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of American Consensus
"A wise reporter and a splendid wit; Tom Frank understands the grassroots Right as well as anyone in America. He is the second coming of H. L. Mencken — but with much better politics." Michael Kazin, author of The Populist Persuasion: An American History
"Frank combines top-flight journalism with first-person reflections to dig deep into the Kansas psyche. Both exhilarating and a little scary, What's the Matter with Kansas? should help flat-landers and coastal types alike understand how traditional Republicanism gave way to the politics of the Christian Right in the heart of the heart of the country." Burdett Loomis, professor and chair, Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas
"What's the Matter with Kansas? is the most insightful analysis of American right-wing pseudopopulism to come along in the last decade. As for Kansas: However far it's drifted into delusion, you've got to love a state that could produce someone as wickedly funny, compassionate, and non-stop brilliant as Tom Frank." Barbara Enhrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
One of "our most insightful social observers" (Los Angeles Times) cracks the great political mystery of our time: how conservatism, once a marker of class privilege, became the creed of millions of ordinary Americans.
About the Author
Founding editor of The Baffler, Thomas Frank is the author of One Market Under God and The Conquest of Cool. He writes frequently for Harper's, The Nation, and Le Monde Diplomatique. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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