Deer Hunting With Jesus
Dispatches From America's Class WarBook - 2007
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.
Baker & Taylor
A Web columnist describes his return to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, and his discovery of the permanent underclass that exists in many American small towns, offering a revealing glimpse of the real lives of the invisible working class that exists in a world of taverns, churches, and double-wide trailers. 40,000 first printing.
A Web columnist describes the permanent and largely invisible underclass that resides in many American small towns, examining a section of society that exists in a world of taverns, churches, and double-wide trailers.
From the critics
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Bageant is a keen observer of a population seldom given a sympathetic and complex examination - working-class southern whites. And though his anger is most for the powerful of either political stripe, no one escapes unscathed. Bageant's sense of humor lessens the sting from time to time but his is a despairing voice mostly.
Two essays in particular, from this collection, stand out as excellent - perhaps even *Important*: The Ballad of Lynndie England & The American Hologram.
I advise a reader to take in all the essays in the order the author offers, but if you only have time for a couple, read those two. Good stuff.
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