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The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True…

The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and… (2008)

by Matt Taibbi, Matt Taibbi

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Read this years ago, just thought about it today. ( )
  picklefactory | Jan 16, 2018 |
Disappointing. Taibbi picks targets that are miles wide and then strikes them with tiny little arrows of personal irritation and snark. I learned nothing. ( )
  CSRodgers | Jun 24, 2017 |
Wants to be HST, isn't, but that's okay after all.

Also, pretend I gave it a 3.5

I enjoyed reading this, it was great on the COMMUTE. I don't know enough about what he writes about to properly critique the book, but I learned something and appreciated his argument that people of all political affiliations say and do absurd things. All the time.

For all you TO THE POINT with WARREN OLNEY listeners (or former listeners, comme moi), Taibbi is buddies with TTP regular Winslow Wheeler, so that's kinda cool. ( )
  behemothing | Oct 25, 2014 |

The case that Taibbi makes in this book is that our national politicians have, quite deliberately and in their own self-interest, corrupted the process of government to such an extent that, not only has it lost any characteristics of a representative democracy responsive to the needs of the people, it can -- more importantly in his and our context -- no longer be described using the tools of rationality. Small wonder, then, that the response of many of the effectively disenfranchised population is to resort to equal irrationality. When the George W. Bush aide famously said that, in effect, we make our own reality now, he was -- in the unwitting fashion of the terminally stupid -- opening the floodgates for anyone to make their own reality. And countless US citizens took him at his word and did exactly that.

Taibbi thus spends about half his time observing the craziness being perpetrated by politicians of all stripes as they go through the motions -- if they bother even doing that -- of democratic government (Rep. Joe Barton gets plenty of attention as exemplar of the completely bought-out Congresscritter who no longer even troubles to produce convincing lies as to his status and purposes), and about the other half reporting on his successful infiltration of the fundamentalist Cornerstone Church in Texas, part of the John Hagee Ministries; there were times when I was hard-pressed to know if a particular passage was describing Barton or Hagee. It was largely because of his experiences among the Fundies that Taibbi developed the thesis noted above. For a man of Taibbi's fearsome reputation and savage ability with words, he is surprisingly sympathetic toward the friends he made among the devout; although they may on occasion subscribe to philosophies that are hateful, vicious and bigoted, in reality they are far more victim than aggressor, having been fed with an indoctrinating concentration of misinformation and bogus reasoning, and having taken a decision to use obedience to authority rather than rational thinking as their cognitive modus operandi. It is pointless even thinking to explain to such people that what they are being told about matters like climate change, the invasion of Iraq and evolution is hogwash, because if you put the evidence plain-as-day in front of them you would simply be offering, in terms of the cognitive process they've chosen to adopt, an irrelevance: if Pastor Hagee has said one thing this means God has said it, so the mere truth is impotent.

Taibbi also points out the importance of self-interest among the faithful. He recounts how, on occasion, Hagee or a catspaw try to get across the church's political message du jour, that Israel must be supported and Iran detested; each time the flock applaud politely but without conviction, clearly wanting to get back to the good stuff about personal damnation, cursing, self-bolstering hatred of liberals or gays, individual salvation, and the notion that God is taking a very special personal interest in YOU.

It would be equally pointless, Taibbi indicates, to try to persuade any of the Cornerstone Church devoted that the philosophy they've been told is Christianity has absolutely nothing to do with the teachings of Christ as recorded in the Gospels:

From here Hagee went into a long spiel about the difference between the Christ of the Gospels and the Christ of Revelation. This is an important point for people who are not fundamentalist Christians and want to understand them. The Gospels Christ is basically a long-haired touchy-feely hippie who goes around being nice to people. The Christ of Revelations is built like The Rock and roams the universe braining sinners with lead pipes. Fundamentalists clearly prefer the Revelation Christ. (p136)

It doesn't take much guesswork to realize that The Great Derangement is often extraordinarily funny, yet often astonishingly depressing; unless there's some kind of root-and-branch re-evaluation, and pretty goddam soon, our distance up the fabled creek is likely to be too great for any chance of return. And, writing as he was in the early days of the 2008 electoral cycle with the primaries still underway, Taibbi shows remarkably prescience, as for example about the famed hopy-changey Democratic Revolution changing in fact very little, like all the other changes of government there've been in the past three decades or more: even the few scraps that have been cast down to us from the masters' table, like healthcare reform, have been so adulterated by special interests operating among corrupt lawmakers as to be only slightly better than worthless.
( )
3 vote JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
I couldn't put this down, even though it was written a couple of years ago. I read for a new book club I joined and can't wait to discuss it with others. Congress is even worse than I thought. The main story is about Taibbi going "undercover" in a fundamentalist "end times" church (John Hagee's), but he weaves in congressional debates, covering the war in Iraq, and looking into the 9/11 Truth movement. I felt that he overstated the saturation of the "Truthers" in an effort to make a false equivalency between the right fringe and the left fringe. But maybe that's because I'm reading it in 2011 when we can see the power of the tea party and the Loose Change folks have completely faded.
  snoozn | Jun 24, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 038552062X, Paperback)


Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi set out to describe the nature of George Bush’s America in the post-9/11 era and ended up vomiting demons in an evangelical church in Texas, riding the streets of Baghdad in an American convoy to nowhere, searching for phantom fighter jets in Congress, and falling into the rabbit hole of the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Matt discovered in his travels across the country that the resilient blue state/red state narrative of American politics had become irrelevant. A large and growing chunk of the American population was so turned off—or radicalized—by electoral chicanery, a spineless news media, and the increasingly blatant lies from our leaders (“they hate us for our freedom”) that they abandoned the political mainstream altogether. They joined what he calls The Great Derangement.
Taibbi tells the story of this new American madness by inserting himself into four defining American subcultures: The Military, where he finds himself mired in the grotesque black comedy of the American occupation of Iraq; The System, where he follows the money-slicked path of legislation in Congress; The Resistance, where he doubles as chief public antagonist and undercover member of the passionately bonkers 9/11 Truth Movement; and The Church, where he infiltrates a politically influential apocalyptic mega-ministry in Texas and enters the lives of its desperate congregants. Together these four interwoven adventures paint a portrait of a nation dangerously out of touch with reality and desperately searching for answers in all the wrong places.
Funny, smart, and a little bit heartbreaking, The Great Derangement is an audaciously reported, sobering, and illuminating portrait of America at the end of the Bush era.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi set out to describe the nature of George Bush's America in the post-9/11 era and ended up vomiting demons in an evangelical church in Texas, riding the streets of Baghdad in an American convoy to nowhere, searching for phantom fighter jets in Congress, and falling into the rabbit hole of the 9/11 Truth Movement.--From publisher description.… (more)

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