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Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from…
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Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War (2007)

by Joe Bageant

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Joe Bageant grew up in Winchester, VA, left to become a journalist with a left wing angle, and then returned to his NASCAR roots back in Winchester. He tells us about the people there in a sympathetic way. Not that he agrees with them or particularly admires them, but he explains why they are the way they are.

He covers the territory from a variety of angles. He never goes very deep, but he surveys the appearances and makes them understandable. To view a person's situation as not so much a reflection of the person's character but as a result of their circumstances: that's Bageant's approach and a manifestation of his left wing angle.

He has some nice references. David Hackett Fisher's book Albion's Seed discusses the various British subcultures that were transported to America and persist to this day. Bageant talks about Presbyterian Scottish Borderers who were first moved to I Ireland by James I to help control the Irish, and who then escaped the oppressive conditions there by moving to America. They formed what Colin Woodward calls Greater Appalachia: http://www.tufts.edu/alumni/magazine/fall2013/features/up-in-arms.html which maintains a huge influence in our national culture. ( )
  kukulaj | Nov 23, 2013 |
This book is a provocative look at southern rural communities in general, and Winchester, Virginia, the author's hometown, specifically. The author describes the culture and traditions of the inhabitants of these areas, and he pulls no punches in his descriptions. Do not look for any semblance of political correctness in this one -- he tells it just how he sees it. While large parts can be construed as rants against conservatives/Republicans, he doesn't spare liberals/Democrats, either. He makes several interesting points, and has references and statistics to back up his claims. He states the importance of education as well as a decent working wage in creating well-informed voters. ( )
  michellebarton | Oct 29, 2013 |
Reading this book was in a lot of ways like going home. Bageant and I grew up in similar milieus and the stories here were both familiar and infuriating. This book is a blistering indictment of the way the US operates, with a special emphasis on how the working poor are manipulated, deluded, and used. There's so much to digest here, and though some of the information is dated (always a problem with the topical political book), it is well worth reading. The working poor don't get much press aside from the dismissive, and untrue tropes used in election years. This book, to my eyes, definitively answers why the working poor vote against their own interests so consistently. Bageant also predicted the mortgage crisis accurately- down to about the third decimal place, which makes what he says about the next wave of financial and environmental ruin that much more chilling.

Accessibly written in a casual, profane and fond tone. I found Bageant's voice familiar, if not comforting. Highly recommended, especially for liberals who think they know all about the poor people and why they can't succeed. ( )
  satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
Bageant has lived on both sides of the left/right political debate. He returns home and poses question after question wondering how the neocons and the corporations have so easily seduced the working class with with empty cliches and rally points all the while subjugating them further. He doesn't have to look far because he finds example after example leaving behind a fairly dark and dank political picture. Many of his speculation are spot on; however, his examples are so dark and is musings around religion are so far off from reality that I wonder if Bageant has lost hope in one way or another.
I like dark material but this one left me with the feeling of sitting in a tar pit late at night. ( )
  revslick | Mar 6, 2013 |
Very interesting look at a culture we see a lot on TV or in fiction but that I never really thought about being "real".

I found the book to be very enlightening, and makes me realize that the United States is in very very big trouble going forward. When an education system loses a large segment of the population to "Christian" schools because it's better to have illiterate children who believe in the literality of the Bible than to have the races mixing, or there is an anti-Democratic movement because people who rely on hunting in order to feed their families think those "liberals" want to eliminate their way of life, or aging people with serious medical problems because they think a box of mini-cakes is a reasonable snack and are too exhausted working for crap-wages to do any physical fitness are sent to homes that smell like feces and urine... well... this doesn't strike me as leading to a decent future for anyone.

Trouble is that the people who need to read this book are too poor to buy it, too illiterate to read it, and too busy working for minimum wage to find time for it... and those of us who do read this are the people who can never understand what it's like to be trapped in a box of poverty and ignorance.

It makes me sad. And scared. And what a shame that so many people live their lives with no hope beyond catching the season finale of their favorite television show after a 12 hour day of work where they earned barely enough to cover their monthly payment on their trailer. ( )
  crazybatcow | Sep 14, 2012 |
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For Barbara and Ken
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On the morning of November 2, 2004, millions of Democrats arose to a new order.
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Book description
After thirty years living a hippiesque life as a progressive journalist, Joe Bageant returns to his Virgina hometown to examine why, among other things, the growing America underclass in the "Red states" continue to vote for political entities directly against their best interests. It is an honest, brutal, historical and tender reporting of his explorations. (galpalval)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307339378, Paperback)

A raucous, truth-telling look at the white working poor-and why they hate liberalism.

Deer Hunting with Jesus is web columnist Joe Bageant’s report on what he learned when he moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, which-like countless American small towns-is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. 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."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:50 -0400)

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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.

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