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The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obamaby Will Bunch
Synopses & Reviews
In November 2008, the election of Barack Obama was supposed to usher in a new age of hope, optimism, and postpartisan politics. Instead it provoked unparalleled anger on the far right that eventually twisted important national discussions and pushed ideas from the conservative fringe into the mainstream media. In the ensuing months, countless pollsters and reporters have tried to understand the heart of this mob that appeared so suddenly, but none of them has successfully accounted for the hard-right movement's rapid growth or explained the hidden connections between its parts. Until now.
In this gripping exposé, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Will Bunch reveals the secrets behind the crusade against Obama, exploring how forces like radical militia groups, the Tea Party, pro-gun zealots, and Glenn Beck have combined old-fashioned populist outrage with digital-age phobias to produce a wave of resentment that many have ridden straight to the bank. Pulling back the curtain on the paranoid politicsof a new generation, Bunch shows how events such as the election of America's first African-American president, the economic recession, the rise of social networking, and the phenomenon of Glenn Beck have created a dangerous political moment that poses legitimate risks to democracy in America.
From conspiracy theorists to secessionists, birthers to "independent" Tea Partiers, Bunch illuminates the ties among this new array of groups. Going beyond easy caricature, he strips away layers of rhetoric to reveal politicians like Paul Broun, who, as one of the most extreme members of Congress, works as hard for right-wing ideologues as he does for his economically battered constituents, and groups like the Oath Keepers, a fast-growing, ultraradical organization that spreads unsubstantiated fears of Obama confiscating guns and placing U.S. citizens in concentration camps. In addition, Bunch exposes the opportunists who have embraced a new brand of apocalyptic fearmongering, which has made them millions but has also led to the widespread paranoia that has helped fuel a rise in antigovernment violence.
The end result shows the true stakes of this political perfect storm, demonstrating how the anger of the far right now threatens to consume America. Powerful, shocking, and thought-provoking, The Backlash is a controversial look at where our democracy is—and where it may be heading.
"While it was no secret that Americans on the far right of the political spectrum were unenthusiastic about Obama's victory, the immediacy and intensity of the backlash went well beyond what anyone expected. In this exhaustive investigation of the Tea Party movement and its loudest mouthpieces, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, Bunch seeks to help liberal and moderate America understand the rage of the right, where they see the nation headed, and how legitimate grievances are being manipulated by opportunists hawking fear to make millions off of working class people. While Bunch's own biases are apparent from page one, he is careful to try to present the far right in an honest light and, according to Bunch, without challenging their perspectives. Maturity in political discourse would be refreshing if Bunch were writing political discourse; he's not. This is investigative reporting. Bunch's primary issue seems to be Beck's opportunism, but his targeting of the only person he doesn't interview will likely make conservatives avoid his book, something Bunch clearly expects. But for liberals or moderates seeking to understand current far right events, the book will fascinate, and likely frighten.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved." Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
In The Backlash, Liberal columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winning political reporter Will Bunch goes behind the scenes of Americas new extreme right-wing minority to explore how their campaign of misinformation, their distortion of President Obama, and their collective fear of the future combine to pose a very real threat to our democratic system. From health care reform to immigration policies, The Backlash is a gripping investigation into the emerging voice of the dangerous American right wing.
About the Author
Will Bunch is a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News and a senior fellow at Media Matters for America. He is also the author of the recent Tear Down This Myth: The Right-Wing Distortion of the Reagan Legacy. His Daily News blog, Attytood, is one of the most successful political sites on the Web. A career journalist, Bunch shared a 1992 Pulitzer Prize for spot news reporting when he worked at New York Newsday. He lives in the Philadelphia suburbs.
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