Synopses & Reviews
Days after President Obama beseeched his fellow lawmakers in the State of the Union ‘to come together as a people, Republicans, Democrats, Independents,” and “find common ground, even as we're having some very vigorous debates,” the extraordinary effect of Arizonas sagebrush rebellion had already rippled across the country.
In the alarming and fascinating State Out of The Union, award-winning author Jeff Biggers shows how the Arizonification of America is in full swing. More than 25 state legislatures have already introduced copycat anti-immigration bills of Arizonas controversial SB 1070. But immigration reform is just the opening salvo—in Arizona, and for the 2012 elections.
With one of the most radical Tea Party factions in control of its legislature, Arizona and its growing bevy of wingnut politicians have not only dislodged Sarah Palin as one of the most popular jokes on late night TV shows, but have set in motion one of the most alarming challenges to federal authority in history. The legislature has passed several bills challenging federal authority on gun laws, Medicaid, and the rights of undocumented children to attend school or go to the emergency room. One bill debated in the state congress proposed prohibiting "courts from considering international law or legal percepts of other nations or cultures when making judicial decisions." Another bill required federal environmental inspectors to register with the sheriff whenever its representatives enter one of Arizona's fifteen counties. One Forbes reporter wrote that the bill could be summed up in three words: ”Stay outta Arizona.” As a precursor to the 2012 election, Arizona defiantly unveiled its vision of a Tea Party America—that may be our future.
"Arizona's nativist Right gets pilloried in this feisty, very partisan chronicle of the state's immigration politics. Journalist Biggers (The United States of Appalachia) investigates controversial initiatives by Arizona's Tea Party influenced state government, including the notorious SB 1070 'papers, please' law cracking down on undocumented immigrants, moves to ban high school Mexican-American studies programs, and bills to bar the undocumented from schools and hospitals. His narrative revolves around colorful, acid-etched profiles of Gov. Jan Brewer, former State Senator Russell Pearce, two-fisted sheriff Joe Arpaio, and other Arizona conservatives who he gleefully skewers. Biggers sets his muckraking account of the anti-immigrant camp against a plodding hagiography of progressive, labor, and Latino activism, replete with 'leaders who had worked tirelessly to rescue the state from radical right-wing interlopers, political carpetbaggers, and corporate powers over the past century.' In his cross-hairs, the anti-immigrant forces appear only as bigots and buffoons, neo-Nazis, murderers, descendants of murderers, and traffic scofflaws, while their opponents are righteous populists. Biggers unearths some interesting Arizona history and builds a sharp, if haphazard, case against contradictions in the anti-immigrant position, but his soap-boxing makes for a one-sided take on issues that deserve a fuller treatment. Photos. Agent: Ellen Geiger. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
State Out of the Union is a genuinely interesting investigation into the stark
nativism that has driven Arizona politics recently
. Biggers capably documents the extent to which nativism permeates Arizona politics and molds its political leaders.” Three Sonorans
State Out of the Union
is the must-read book of the 2012 election to understand not just where we are today, but where we are headed in the near future using our history as a guide.” Publishers Weekly
.Biggers unearths some interesting Arizona history and builds a sharp
case against contradictions in the anti-immigrant position.” Kirkus Reviews
[Biggers] extensive evidence gives the book authenticity
.A timely book, especially with immigration policy playing a major role in the upcoming presidential campaign.” Publishers Weekly
Perhaps no issue captures better what it means to be American than the contentious legislative debate around who can become American. Certainly, that question will be a major part of the November election, and into the fray comes an examination of the controversial policies and practices in Arizona: State Out of the Union.” Luis Urrea, author of The Devils Highway and The Hummingbirds Daughter
Jeff Biggers has the unblinking gaze of the honed journalist, a novelists sense of image and story, and a prophets cache of outrage. He stands in my very short list of American literary heroes. With his new book, Biggers shows us he can write anythingand do it well. His aim is true.”
Shelf Awareness[A]s a matter of cultural and historical record, State Out of the Union leaves readers with much to consider.”
Iowa City Press-CitizenA scathing critique of [Arizonas] current politics and history
.Biggers investigative research and boots-on-the ground journalism not to mention his thorough knowledge of Arizonas tri-cultural heritage of American Indian, Hispanic American and European American history provide readers with an in-depth understanding of the states controversial past and present
.His historical and political conclusions are the most damning ever published about Arizonas short history as a state.” Shelf Awareness[A]s a matter of cultural and historical record, State Out of the Union leaves readers with much to consider.”
[M]ixing memoir, journalism, and history, Biggers narrates a people-focused multicultural story of clashing cycles of nativism and openness in a struggle for community recognition, citizenship rights, and humanity in what has become a militarized borderland
. [A] pivotal issue for national consideration
[a] compelling reading during a national election season and beyond.”
"[A] sweeping chronicle of Arizona."
El Paso Times
"As the country struggles to deal with immigration, civil rights and what it means to be an American, State Out of the Union serves as a guide to the cultural showdown that now seems inevitable."
Arizona has gone wild—over immigration, guns, healthcare, the Tea Party, and vigilantism. Award-winning author and Arizona local Jeff Biggers reports on whats troubling our 48th state, and how a radicalized Arizona has become a national bellwether.
State Out of the Union
is award-winning journalist and historian Jeff Biggers’ riveting account of Arizona, the famed frontier state whose conflict over immigration and state’s rights has become a national bellwether. Biggers shows how Arizona’s long history of labor and civil rights battles, its contentious entry into the union, as well as cyclical upheavals over immigration rights, place the state front and center in a greater American story playing out across the United States. From President Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback to the legacy of Arizona native son César Chávez to the powerful influence of the state’s politicians, like Sen. Barry Goldwater and Tea Party President Russell Pearce, Biggers reveals how Arizona has played a pivotal role in determining the nation’s conservative and liberal agendas.
Today, more than 25 state legislatures have introduced anti-immigration bills that are virtual copies of Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 “papers please” law. The state is ground zero in the clash over a historic demographic shift taking place across the country with the rise of a newly empowered Latino electorate. But Arizona is not only home to some of the most virulent anti-immigration legislation in the country—it is also the birthplace of a new movement of young Latino activists and allies who have not only challenged the self-proclaimed architect of SB 1070 in a historic recall election, but are also mobilizing to defend the state’s education system from censorship.
A lasting and important work of cultural history, State Out of the Union vividly unveils the showdown over the American Dream in Arizona—and its impact on the future of the nation.
About the Author
Jeff Biggers is the American Book Award-winning of The United States of Appalachia, and In the Sierra Madre. He has worked as a writer, radio correspondent and educator across the United States, Europe, India and Mexico. His award-winning stories have appeared on National Public Radio, Public Radio International and in numerous magazines and newspapers, including The Washington Post, The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, Salon, among others. He splits his time between Tucson and Illinois. His website is: www.jeffbiggers.com