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A revelatory and darkly comic adventure through a nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown--from the halls of Congress to the bases of Baghdad to the apocalyptic churches of the heartland. 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 stree A revelatory and darkly comic adventure through a nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown--from the halls of Congress to the bases of Baghdad to the apocalyptic churches of the heartland. 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, following a trail of pork through the halls of Congress, and falling into the rabbit hole of the 9/11 Truth Movement. He 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. "The funniest angry writer and the angriest funny writer since Hunter S. Thompson roared into town." -- James Wolcott "…[A] scabrous, hilarious vivisection of our disintegrating nation. …Taibbi shines a light on the corruption, absurdities, and idiot pieties of modern American politics. Beneath his cynical fury, though, are flashes of surprising compassion for the adrift credulous souls who are taken in by it all." -- Michelle Goldberg


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A revelatory and darkly comic adventure through a nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown--from the halls of Congress to the bases of Baghdad to the apocalyptic churches of the heartland. 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 stree A revelatory and darkly comic adventure through a nation on the verge of a nervous breakdown--from the halls of Congress to the bases of Baghdad to the apocalyptic churches of the heartland. 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, following a trail of pork through the halls of Congress, and falling into the rabbit hole of the 9/11 Truth Movement. He 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. "The funniest angry writer and the angriest funny writer since Hunter S. Thompson roared into town." -- James Wolcott "…[A] scabrous, hilarious vivisection of our disintegrating nation. …Taibbi shines a light on the corruption, absurdities, and idiot pieties of modern American politics. Beneath his cynical fury, though, are flashes of surprising compassion for the adrift credulous souls who are taken in by it all." -- Michelle Goldberg

30 review for The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire

  1. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    "Our national politics was doomed because voters were no longer debating one another using a commonly accepted set of facts... What we had instead was a nation of reality shoppers... They voted in huge numbers but they were voting out of loathing against enemies and against the system in general, not really FOR anybody. The elections had basically become a forum for organizing the hatreds of the population." -Matt Taibbi- 'The Great Derangement' "When the government sees its people as the enemy "Our national politics was doomed because voters were no longer debating one another using a commonly accepted set of facts... What we had instead was a nation of reality shoppers... They voted in huge numbers but they were voting out of loathing against enemies and against the system in general, not really FOR anybody. The elections had basically become a forum for organizing the hatreds of the population." -Matt Taibbi- 'The Great Derangement' "When the government sees its people as the enemy, sooner or later that feeling gets to be mutual and that's when the real weirdness begins." -Matt Taibbi- 'The Great Derangement' Matt Taibbi, a journalist for 'Rolling Stone' magazine, writes political and cultural commentary which I always find interesting and thought-provoking. In this book, 'The Great Derangement" A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire' (which was published in 2008), Taibbi writes about observations he had been making while traveling around the United States covering the 2006 mid-term elections for 'Rolling Stone'. Because Taibbi had been spending so much time in Washington, he was aware that the Democratic political elites (whom he characterized as completely disconnected from the public they purportedly serve) were in a celebratory mood. After years of the Bush Administration, which had been characterized by an ill-advised war sold to the public based on 'inaccurate' intelligence, the shocking and disgraceful torture of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghiraib prison, incompetence in handling the emergency created by Hurricane Katrina, not to mention, the exposed corruption in the party which culminated in the indictment of House Speaker Tom Delay... the Democratic party elites were celebrating their election victory and this return to a more equitable balance of power was being viewed as a return to 'normal' and a 'triumph of American democracy." Taibbi disagreed with this assessment. He writes... "I knew better. I had been all around the country in the last year and I knew that the last thing these elections represented was a vote of confidence in the American system. Out there, in states both blue and red, the People were boarding the mothership, preparing to leave this planet for good...." Matt Taibbi begins the book by providing some startling poll results regarding America's views and their expressed opinions provide the foundation for explaining some of the observations he had been making.. observations of a population completely divided , but not into the old 'red and blue' groups. Completely disconnected from their political system and from each other, the people seemed to be united only in their certainty that those that did not share their beliefs were evil, mortal enemies and needed to be eliminated. Taibbi cites various polls and surveys that were commissioned which seem, at first glance, as incredible. A CBS news survey showed that only 16% of people believed that the Bush Administration told the truth about the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. 53% believed the government was "hiding something" and 28% believed the Administration was "mostly lying." And a Zogby poll, conducted in 2004 reported that nearly half of New York City residents polled (49.3%) believed the government had advance knowledge of the attacks and failed to act on that knowledge. Another Zogby poll commissioned in 2006 found that only 45% of Americans were "very confident" that George Bush won the 2004 election fairly, demonstrating that not only did the public NOT trust their government, they also had serious doubts about their government's legitimacy. What's more, the public had also made it clear that they didn't particularly trust the 'corporate media' either.... only 59% expressed trust in national news reporters. If the population no longer trusted in its institutions... like government and the media... Taibbi proposed that they must be turning elsewhere to fulfill their needs, both for information and a sense of community and connectedness. His mission became discovering just where people were turning to fill the void. Recognizing the rise in the number of Americans who self-identified as evangelical Christians, the startling large percentage of the population who claimed belief in angels and the infallibility of the Bible and the popularity of the 'Left Behind' series of 'end time' novels which had sold many millions of copies.. he decided to join the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas founded by Pastor John Hagee. Hagee is most associated with the movement known as Christian Zionism and was believed to have unprecedented access to the Bush White House. Hagee founded the group Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and had become influential in politics because of his pro-Israel views. Taibbi joined this church to see what it was all about... Using the name 'Matthew Collins', Taibbi attended not only weekly Sunday services but also attended an 'encounter weekend' in which the faithful were bused to a nearby ranch where they spent three days singing, praising God, discussing their 'psychic wounds' which were apparently responsible for the separation they felt from God and taking part in a ceremony in which their demons were exorcised (a deliverance) and they were encouraged to 'speak in tongues'. He immersed himself in this evangelical church for months... attending Bible study groups, undertaking a mission of personal evangelizing at a local shopping mall with two young women who had befriended him and even being baptized in a swimming pool. What Taibbi discovered was interesting. On a personal level, he found that his alter-ego, Matt Collins, began to look forward to spending time with his new community . He explained that he didn't need to pretend to have feelings of contentment when being around the other church members he had come to know. The church provided a sense of community and assuaged loneliness. When looking at the church from a sociological or cultural perspective, however; Taibbi was amazed at the information being disseminated by the church's pastors and even more amazed by how unquestioningly this information was being accepted by the congregants. The pastors frequently combined religious doctrine with political warnings in their sermons... warning the congregation about the evils of 'secular humanists' (those who don't believe). These evils included, of course, the secular humanists' acceptance of homosexuality, abortion and climate change. These pastors never wasted an opportunity to remind the people that the 'end times' was near and if they wanted to be taken to heaven, they needed to ensure they were 'saved'. Surprisingly, the congregation seemed to be anxiously awaiting and anticipating Armageddon. Taibbi also reluctantly explored a bizarre movement known as the 9/11 Truth Movement. After writing a column for 'Rolling Stone' in which he referred to members of this movement as "clinically insane", he became the online target of this group's hatred. Wanting to understand what was motivating this group. Taibbi once again, used an alter-ego (this time, Lee Smith) and began atttending 'Truther' meetings. He defines a 'Truther' as "someone who believes that the U.S. government shared some complicity, whether direct or indirect, in the 9/11 attack." Generally, 'Truthers' believe that Beorge Bush, Dick Cheney and other members of the Administration gained access to the White House (people believe mainly through illegal means) and then set into motion a diabolical plan which would ultimately ensure that citizens would willingly consent to wars in the Middle East. Some 'Truthers' believe the Bush Administration simply allowed the attacks to happen; while others believe that the Pentagon was struck by a missile rather than a plane and that the planes which crashed into the Twin Towers in New York weren't planes at all but rather some type of high-tech hologram. And most 'Truthers' believe that the towers collapsed not because they were struck by planes but because of a 'controlled demolition', which was planned in advance. Although Matt Taibbi was clear in conveying his understanding of the American public's disgust, anger and hopelessness, he was also clear about the amazement and bewilderment he felt over then idea that instead of expressing their outrage in constructive ways, the population seemed to have just retreated into worlds of fantasy and imaginative conspiracies. In terms of evangelical Christians, they were content to imagine themselves as a repressed and persecuted minority and were consumed by the idea that Satan is lurking around every corner and they just needed to wait for the 'end times' when Jesus would return and physically rescue them from their hopeless lives. And the 9/11 'Truthers fantasized that they are so powerful and scary that their government needed to plan a horrific mass murder to convince them of the necessity of going to war. Expressing his exasperation, Taibbi wrote.. " Whereas the real conspiracy of power in America is right out in the open and always has been... It completely misunderstands the nature of american government- fails to see that the old maxim about 'the business of America is business' is absolutely true, that the federal government in this country is really just a low-rent timeshare property seasonally occupied by this or that clan of financial interests, each of which takes its turn at the helm, tinkering with the tax laws and regulatory code and the rates at the Fed in the way it thinks will best keep the money train rolling... You don't elect politicians to commit crimes, you elect politicians to make your crimes legal." I suppose it may sound strange for me to admit that I thorough enjoyed this book; but I enjoyed Matt Taibbi's sense of humor, his irreverence and his intellectual commentary and observations. I can't say that I'm as amazed as he is by the illogical and downright weird beliefs held by some Americans because I think I've always known that there are some people who hold tight to beliefs that are illogical and not tied in any way to facts or reality. This isn't a new phenomenon. I grew up around people who proudly discussed their collection of weapons and who were certain that one day they ould need to use these weapons to protect their families from their own 'tyrannical government'. And I recall a controversy which arose over fluoridated public water because some people were sure that adding fluoride to water was somehow part of a Communist plot. I can't say that Taibbi proved any correlation or causation between the public's growing anger and discontent and their retreat from reality but perhaps actually PROVING anything was never his intention. What I did find was that in reading this book a decade after it was written, that his observations seem weirdly predictive.. a sort of foreshadowing of the America in which we currently live.. which often feels as if we are all bit players in our very own 'reality show'. I can't help but wonder .. in a time of massive problems such as impending climate catastrophe, a broken and unresponsive government, a broken health care system... how far from reality are people going to drift when what is needed is their full engagement?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Xysea

    Let me just say that Matt Taibbi kicks much ass, so when I say this next part don't shoot me. Whenever I see him on Bill Maher I think he swears too much. Yes, a contradiction but then I am full of contradictions. Anyway, kudos to Matt for being an intrepid reporter. I wouldn't have wanted to participate in the church he did, to find out why people are so deranged. But he did and I and this book thank him for it. Told with a great dose of humor, irony, satire and bewilderment this book is a great Let me just say that Matt Taibbi kicks much ass, so when I say this next part don't shoot me. Whenever I see him on Bill Maher I think he swears too much. Yes, a contradiction but then I am full of contradictions. Anyway, kudos to Matt for being an intrepid reporter. I wouldn't have wanted to participate in the church he did, to find out why people are so deranged. But he did and I and this book thank him for it. Told with a great dose of humor, irony, satire and bewilderment this book is a great journey. It goes into what makes Americans who they are - the good, the bad and the ugly. (PS if you're one of those 'love America types who can't stand for people to criticize your country let me say (a) you're no patriot, you're part of the problem and (b) this book probably ain't for you.) America is full of whack-a-doodles, tin-foil hat wearers, wingnuts, freaks and general misfits. Always has been. But over the years we've morphed our psyches, twisted them actually, into something perverse, egotistical and painful. We're still shouting 'We're #1' with big foam fingers to people who are actually passing us in the global race. How much dumber could we be? Plenty, actually. Because on top of that, we think we're moral. Well, we're really not but religion works for good cover in the interim. We're greedy, self-interested folks who happen to like to shop a lot and eat a lot, and in some case, pray a lot. We critize the intellectuals, and despise elitism (?), and then get mad when someone says we cling to guns and religion - but we ARE clinging to guns and religion. lol Matt's book goes a long way to exploring this cultural dichotomy and it's development. I found myself either shaking my head or chuckling - we ARE deranged, and that's not always a bad thing. In the end though, we probably should work on being more united and being on a more even keel - we should probably work to be of the world and not above it, but it seems hard to comprehend how we can do that being so myopic. Make no mistake unless we get ourselves to a cultural opthamologist, we are indeed at the twilight of the American empire. What we need to decide is where to from here - but even that will be difficult if we refuse to put our glasses on to read the map.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Sprunger

    Most authors have a favorite Word, a by the wayside piece of arcana they drop into everything they publish.* Others repeat a trademark Word like a mantra.** Matt Taibbi's Word is "masturbatory." Masturbatory is a descriptive word, so filled with connotation that it drives home the point that it's used critically; there can be no mistaking the author's intent. But it is only an "awakening" Word for a small group of highly suggestable readers - most of whom are seniors in high school or freshmen i Most authors have a favorite Word, a by the wayside piece of arcana they drop into everything they publish.* Others repeat a trademark Word like a mantra.** Matt Taibbi's Word is "masturbatory." Masturbatory is a descriptive word, so filled with connotation that it drives home the point that it's used critically; there can be no mistaking the author's intent. But it is only an "awakening" Word for a small group of highly suggestable readers - most of whom are seniors in high school or freshmen in college. And since Matt Taibbi seems to be girding his readers against the myriad fictions of our times - the Derangements found at the cardinal points of American social and political life - you'd think he'd deal more in "awakening" Words - and choose better, big boy ones at that. My disappointment in The Great Derangement runs deep. I don't know what I expected*** from a contributor to Rolling Stone and AlterNet Daily... The only example I've seen where Rolling Stone got anything right the first time, in a timely manner, was the correct identification of "Hot Cheetos and Takis" as the breakout summer jam of 2012. Everything else has been a total waste of time. The deal breaker came for me when the author had to incorporate some church members into his alter-ego as he masqueraded in deep cover to get a scoop on just how fucked up Christian Evangelicals are and what they're really up to.***** His impromptu friends/beards/props/patsies lacked an abundance of personally redeeming qualities, but still balanced in the "decently good, earnest types" category who shouldn't be made fun of by a cynical Northeastern elitist just for the sake of high-fiving journalistic sport. It's unsporting behavior to find someone who likes you, expends general concern both in and away from your presence, only to portray them as the world's own rube when the book goes to print. The betrayal the two women must have eventually felt, especially the one with whom Taibbi maintained a close platonic relationship (with likely one sided sexual tension for miles), must have been agonizing. How do you justify fucking with people like this for a cheap, salacious story? And Matt Taibbi isn't just fed up with Republicans and in awed disbelief in social conservatives, he's got bones to pick with liberals too. The fact that Matt Taibbi strikes such bitter blows at his own liberal constituency isn't that maddening, though, because the left is hardened to attacks by its own pseudo-hipsters or charasmatic man-children who can rock a full head of silver hair and use contemporary slang. I mean Jon Stewart. We let Jon Stewart turn on the president, we let him turn on the Congress. So we'll let Matt Taibbi be a class enemy all he wants too, because this the price we pay for having prominent spokespeople explaining our positions elegantly, intelligently, judiciously, without rhapsody, and with cohesion. So the take from The Great Derangement is a convoluted mess. You'll like some of it; you'll hate some of it. Some of it will almost redeem the rest, like the following passage: "...The (9-11 conspiracy) movement is really distinguished by a kind of defiant unfamiliarity with the actual character of America's ruling class. In 9/11 Truth lore, the people who staff the White House, the security agencies, the Pentagon, and groups like PNAC and the Council on Foreign Relations are imagined to be a monolithic, united class of dastardly, swashbuckling risk-takers with permanent hard-ons for Bourne Supremacy-style 'false flag' and 'black bag' operations, instead of the mundanely greedy, risk-averse, backstabbing, lawn-tending, half-clever suburban golfers they are in real life... "The people who really run American don't send the likes of George Bush and Dick Cheney to the White House to cook up boat-rocking, maniacal world-domination plans and commit massive criminal conspiracies on live national television; they send them to repeal PUHCA and dole out funds for the F-22 and pass energy bills with $14 billion tax breaks and slash fuel-efficiency standards and do all the other shit that never makes the papers but keeps Wall Street and the country's corporate boardrooms happy... The financial class in this country didn't get to where it is by betting on the ability of a president whose lips move when he reads to blow up two Manhattan skyscrapers in broad daylight without getting caught." But passages like this, great as they are, don't justify a 300 page book of condescension on every conceivable group outside the ivy league alumni associations. Sorry, but I couldn't relate. *Jonathan Lethem: "Solipsism." Joseph Ellis: "Congeal." Doris Kearns Goodwin: "Cavil." **Johnathan Lethem: "Solipsism." David Foster Wallace: "Fantods." ***Actually, I do. It seems like I've heard Mr. Taibbi as a frequent guest on "The Diane Rehm Show", Friday News Roundup, Domestic Hour on WAMU. Anything with a Diane Rehm endorsement carries a lot of weight in my suggestable solipsism. ****Waging a low level war, with outdated tactics, to protect the status quo from imaginary adversaries. Not much, in other words, unless you count the many arguably innocent people who get fucked up from the experience.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    The Great Derangement has the best tutorial I've seen on the actual workings of Congress. Chapter 2 describes in detail the processes of the Republican-controlled congress (prior to the 2006 elections), explaining in detail how bills are actually created and rammed through. Taibbi explains why it is that CSPAN2 is so mind-numbingly dull - an endless parade of house resolutions to name a post office or honor a dead chamber of commerce booster. The real work of the congress is done in the middle o The Great Derangement has the best tutorial I've seen on the actual workings of Congress. Chapter 2 describes in detail the processes of the Republican-controlled congress (prior to the 2006 elections), explaining in detail how bills are actually created and rammed through. Taibbi explains why it is that CSPAN2 is so mind-numbingly dull - an endless parade of house resolutions to name a post office or honor a dead chamber of commerce booster. The real work of the congress is done in the middle of the night (literally) in the offices of committee chairmen, energetically inserting and deleting provisions into legislation to satisfy the needs of their true constituents, the large corporations that donate so generously to the campaigns of those committee chairmen. This is Civics 101 as it was never taught in our public schools. Chapter 6 describes the same process at work now that the Democrats have a clear majority in Congress. Not much has changed. Later in the book, Taibbi describes a meeting between leaders of the peace movement with the new Democratic leadership - a meeting in which the topic of discussion was how to sell angry voters on the reason why the Democratic congress did absolutely nothing to end the Iraq war. The premise of this book is that starting 20 or so years ago both government and the media abandoned their responsibilities. Government became unabashedly a government of the few against the interests of the many, and corporate controlled media simply stopped reporting the news, turning to trivialities and sleaze instead. This left a vacuum into which poured the phenomena of right-wing end-times fundamentalism and left-wing conspiracy theories. Both camps have enormous numbers of followers, and neither side is able to talk to the other. Taibbi infiltrated the Cornerstone Baptist mega-church in San Antonia Texas - Pastor John Hagee's church. He dove right in and went through their training/indoctrination programs, attended weekly cell meetings and the weekly church services. The ideology preached at that church, as at most fundamentalist churches, is equal parts anti-liberal, anti-science, pro-Israel, and pure ignorance and prejudice throughout, with massive doses of demons, Satan, hell, and a vengeful wrathful Lord. It makes for entertaining, but scary, reading. Taibbi was pretty depressed by the end of that months-long experience. He also spent considerable time with 9/11 Truthers - people who hold a variety of evidence-free beliefs about a vast corporate/government conspiracy to carry out and cover up the attacks of September 11, 2001. He characterizes this as a left-wing movement. I'm not so sure about that, since many of its proponents seem not to have ever been left-wing before they adopted the theories. But, whatever. The problem from Taibbi's perspective is that 36% of the US population believes in some part of the 9/11 conspiracy theories. A substantial part of the population, in other words, is willing to accept preposterous theories without evidence, because they are so convinced that every time they read a paper, see something on television, or read news on the internet, that they are being lied to. And they are right, for the most part. In the end Taibbi sees some cause to think that the situation might be changing. Written at the end of 2007 he saw the campaigns of Ron Paul, John Edwards, and Barack Obama indications that people are starting to rebel in meaningful ways both from the 2-same-party system and from the us/them demonization represented by religious fundamentalism and conspriracy crackpotism. He points out that Obama is massively funded by the same corporate interests that fund the rest of the power elite, but believed that Obama's 'tone' represented a promise of change for the better. We'll see. I wish that Christian evangelicals and conspiracy theorists could read this book. It provides a much-needed dose of reality. Sadly, as with most political books, he will be preaching mostly to a choir of like-minded realists.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Wow, what a scary, hilarious and depressing book this was! Veteran Rolling Stone political reporter Matt Taibbi visits two extreme sides of today's political "debate", a Christian Evangelist church in Texas and the wingnuts of the "Truth 9/11" squad, who maintain the whole Sept. 11 terrorist attack was really a government plot. A plot for what, no one seems quite clear, but a plot nonetheless. His visit to the fire and brimstone evangelical mega-church in Texas is, of course, the scariest to this Wow, what a scary, hilarious and depressing book this was! Veteran Rolling Stone political reporter Matt Taibbi visits two extreme sides of today's political "debate", a Christian Evangelist church in Texas and the wingnuts of the "Truth 9/11" squad, who maintain the whole Sept. 11 terrorist attack was really a government plot. A plot for what, no one seems quite clear, but a plot nonetheless. His visit to the fire and brimstone evangelical mega-church in Texas is, of course, the scariest to this atheist. To imagine people buy into this far right wing talk of the apocalypse, brought on by Hillary Clinton (who really is the devil incarnate for these folks), is a truly depressing thought. Fine, have your religion if you need it, but show a little skepticism for these trumped up claims bellowed from the preacher man. There are some simply bust-a-gut laughing sections here, as he brings a liberalism and a truly cynical view to the scene. He's equally tough on the Truth 9/11 group. In fact, one of the funniest sections of the book is his "transcript" of a meeting of the cabal lead by The Dark One himself, Dick Cheney and the rest of the leading neocons, as they figure out the plans for the 9/11 plot. It is so laughably an accurate account of how things must have happened if even a portion of their conspiracy theories are right that it makes it clear how far fetched it all really is. Yet, astoundingly, something like 40% believe some or all of these theories. He intersperses these two stories with truly depressing chapters on how things currently are in Congress. The book actually goes past the 2006 Democrat uprising yet describes a "business as usual" attitude among our Congress critters. It's a very bleak, dark and depressing look at the politics of power and just how much it is to just stay in power and get money from lobbies. The main thrust of the 9/11 Truthers is that the whole plot was to change public opinion, but reading these other chapters makes you believe that they don't care about public opinion in the slightest. I wish I still had the book on me so I could quote a few of the more outrageously cynical and humorous paragraphs. But Taibbi also does a very good job at trying to figure out what makes these people tick. What is it about big time religion that attracts folks? He works hard at humanizing them even if he can't believe what he is seeing sometimes. He understands both groups attempts at getting black and white answers in this very grey and confusing world. He makes the point that the 9/11 are just making their own version of the "truth", as today's news/marketers can't be trusted to do it for them. A very good read, but ultimately very depressing. All the more so given the slow rate of change with the current administration, and the business as usual of both Congress and appointed leaders like Larry Summers, who has been in the pocket of big finance for years and yet is Obama's chief economic advisor. Sigh. Now I'm depressed all over again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Paquita Maria Sanchez

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    There is an essential flaw in human nature that makes us think we're special. It used to make us think that we were literally the center of the universe, which it turns out we aren't. It makes us think that we're all going to grow up to be movie stars and astronauts, which we aren't; our children are all brilliant and well-behaved, which they aren't; and that God is on our side, which It isn't. Oddly enough, though, there is one place where this boundless optimism is flipped on its head. Every ge There is an essential flaw in human nature that makes us think we're special. It used to make us think that we were literally the center of the universe, which it turns out we aren't. It makes us think that we're all going to grow up to be movie stars and astronauts, which we aren't; our children are all brilliant and well-behaved, which they aren't; and that God is on our side, which It isn't. Oddly enough, though, there is one place where this boundless optimism is flipped on its head. Every generation is absolutely convinced that this is the nadir of human accomplishment, that we are well and truly screwed and that there has never been a more messed-up, terrible time to live. The past was better, we think, and we look back on the days gone by as a golden age when things were simpler and no one had the kind of troubles that we have today. Of course, that's not true. We are healthier, freer, and generally better off than generations before us, who were healthier, freer, and generally better off than the ones before them, and so on. While things certainly aren't perfect, they're not nearly as bad as we like to think that they are. If people were able to look at their world with an unjaundiced eye and a fair heart, we would realize that and maybe start living our lives accordingly. Of course, if we were able to do that, then Matt Taibbi wouldn't be able to sell his books. To be fair, the first decade of this century was messed up on a grand scale. Not the same way the 60s were, or the 30s, or the 1860s, but truly twisted and burdensome in their own special way. We had been attacked, seemingly out of nowhere, by a shadowy cabal of extremists who managed to make a laughingstock of our supposed invulnerability. We reacted by flipping out and invading the wrong country and passing reams of knee-jerk legislation designed to chip away at civil liberties wherever they could. Our government, when it wasn't handing us lies that were about as transparent as a window where the glass has been removed and replaced with nothing but pure, spring-fresh air, was telling us that there was nothing to see here and that the best way to get involved was to go shopping. And if you did have to get involved, you'd better be with us. Because we know who's against us. The tehrists. Overseeing all of this was a simplistic frat boy idiot manchild of a President and the band of Washington technocrats who had been itching to bomb the hell out of the Middle East since the 70s. The media, for its part, was playing along, doing what it was told, and making sure that the people, with whom sovereign power resides in the United States, had no way of knowing what its government was actually doing at any given time. Americans had been lied to over and over again for decades, starting with the post-ironic age of advertising (which Taibbi pinpoints as the Joe Isuzu ads) up to the utterly unswallowable "They hate us for our freedoms" line that we were supposed to believe when it slid, wet, horrible and putrescent from the mouth of George W. Bush. And then, if you raised your hand and asked questions about the story you were expected to buy into, people turned around and accused you of being a faithless traitor. So what are people to do when they can't trust the narrative that their leaders are giving them? Why, they turn inward, of course, and build their own narrative. Their own bubble, as it were - a space within which everything makes sense. Everything can be explained, people can be trusted, and all the rules work. It is utterly incomprehensible to outsiders, but that's okay because outsiders are the whole reason the bubble exists in the first place. As Taibbi discovers, there is far more in common between the far right hyper-Christians and the far left conspiracists than you might expect, and that there are far more of them than you really want to know. This book is basically two interwoven parts, with a few interludes to keep the story on track. In one part, Taibbi goes down to Texas, uses a fake name and gets involved with a Megachurch in San Antonio. He joins the church to find out what brings these people together in a time when the government and the media can't be relied upon, and what attracts people to a live of fundamentalist Christianity in the first place. He goes to meetings where demons are cast out, to small group discussions in beautiful Texan homes, and listens to people explain why it is that they've given their lives to Christ, something that Taibbi would never do himself, were he not researching a book. He also finds himself drawn into the shadowy world of the 9/11 Truth movement, a group that believes that - to varying degrees - the Bush administration bears some of the blame for the attacks on New York and Washington D.C. Some believe they knew about it but chose to do nothing, so that they would have a reason to launch their war against Iraq. Others believe that they directly caused the attacks, mining the collapsed buildings and aiming the aircraft. The more elaborate theories involve holograms, missiles and a conspiracy of silence that is continually upheld by thousands of otherwise loyal Americans. Much like the fundamentalist Christianity, Taibbi immerses himself in Truther culture, trying to find out what it is that keeps them going, even when they - like the Christians - have no real evidence to support what they believe. Even moreso for the Truthers, there is actually a lot of logical, circumstantial and physical evidence that outright debunks their theories, but they soldier on anyway, utterly convinced that they are the only ones in America who haven't surrendered to the lies of the political and media machines. So what do these two groups have in common, and what do they say about America? American politics are, generally, about Us versus Them. All politics, really, but we do it really well. The parties in power do their best to say that they stand for Us against Them, regardless of which party you vote with, but it's become increasingly evident that the parties in power are not really for Us - they're for Themselves. They push the same canned platitudes and wedge the same minor issues every election cycle with the sole purpose of keeping their jobs, and that is finally becoming evident to the public. Rather than governing, which is ostensibly their jobs, Our Representatives in Congress are doing what they can to help themselves, their parties and their friends, and this is more and more evident the closer you look. To have them then turn around and say, without a trace of irony, that they're doing their best for the country they love, that they actually care about the concerns of the voter, is enough to make even the most optimistic Pollyanna turn into a Grade-A cynic. But rather than rising up as one and kicking the bastards out, the public turned inwards and went into their bubbles. If the game we're playing is Us versus Them, then let's do it right. Now we're not just one group of people with a certain set of political views, we are the anointed of God or, depending on where you are, the only intelligent people ina world of sheep. And who are They? They are not just corrupt politicians. They are agents of Satan, sent to bring about the end of the world. They are power-hungry chessmasters, bent on ruling with an iron fist. It's a world view that makes sense to the people who have chosen to live in it, more sense than the "real" world does. Now this book was written back in 2006 and a lot has happened since then, so it is very much a book of its time. Since then, we have seen our political theater change in many interesting ways, not the least of which is the Tea Party, which is kind of the coming-out party for a lot of the people who felt they had been left out of the discussion for so long. They've had their chance to incubate in the churches and on the internet, and now they're out in force and ready to change the way politics works. Whether they will ultimately be successful is still up for argument, but so far, well... They're kind of freaking me out. The take-home message from the book is this: There have been far worse times to be in the United States, and our nation has seen its way through far greater trials. But each one is different, born of different causes and with different effects, and we do not have the benefit of being able to look back and see how everything works out. It is much easier these days to find people you agree with and isolate yourself with them, and every time Congress or the President or the Media lets us down, it's more and more tempting to do so. But that way lies madness. The madness of an evangelical movement that is anticipating the end of days, the madness of a conspiracy of vast and perfect proportions. The answer is not to isolate ourselves with the like-minded but to seek out those with whom we disagree and make sure that we're all living in the same world, no matter what it's like. Rather than dividing ourselves into two giant camps of Us and Them, pointed and aimed by people whose only interest is in seeing us rip each other to shreds, maybe we can finally see what it is that unifies everyone. Once we can do that, once we can fight the derangement, perhaps we can see our way to making our country into the one we want it to be. ------------------------------------------- "Washington politicians basically view the People as a capricious and dangerous enemy, a dumb mob whose only interesting quality happens to be their power to take away politicians' jobs... When the government sees its people as the enemy, sooner or later that feeling gets to be mutual. And that's when the real weirdness begins." - Matt Taibbi, The Great Derangement

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    I bought Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire about eight years ago and never got around to reading it. I picked it up now because I figured “great derangement” basically described the 2016 presidential election, so what better time to read it than now? While the specifics of Taibbi’s book (megachurch-going Christians and 9/11 Truthers for the most part) seems out of date and not relevant, the same type o I bought Matt Taibbi’s The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, & Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire about eight years ago and never got around to reading it. I picked it up now because I figured “great derangement” basically described the 2016 presidential election, so what better time to read it than now? While the specifics of Taibbi’s book (megachurch-going Christians and 9/11 Truthers for the most part) seems out of date and not relevant, the same type of disillusionment that those people feel regarding the American political system still applies eight years later. If anything, this presidential election, between two of the most disliked and untrustworthy candidates in American history, holds true to predictions Taibbi makes in this book. I am familiar with Taibbi because of his profanity-filled, politician bashing articles he writes for Rolling Stone. Even if I didn’t necessarily agree with him, I appreciated his bluntness and his lack of coyness—if he felt that a politician was lying, he said “liar.” He didn’t use toothless euphemisms such as “misunderstanding” or “misspoke.” He has a kind of fuck it, burn-all-the-bridges type of reporting style that seems reckless and also incredibly satisfying. His book is also like this, but more personal. He expresses regrets, feels badly about being mean, and (in the case of his undercover role as a Christian at Jim Hagee’s megachurch in Texas), comes to identify with the people he’s reporting on. Taibbi isn’t for everyone. He’s rude and a cynic. What makes him tolerable is one, he’s often funny and two, he’s often right and three, his cynicism holds true to the George Carlin quote: “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” Brought up as a touchy-feely liberal lefty (his own description), Taibbi is disappointed that the system is corrupt, that politicians are corrupt and that Americans resort to the extremes of religion (Satan is the cause of every problem) and to conspiracy theories (9/11 Truthers) to find explanations for their disappointment because they don’t trust the mainstream news media. I’m not going to say a whole lot about Taibbi’s investigations (if you can call them that) into 9/11 conspiracy theorists or his months-long immersion as “Christian Matt” in Jim Hagee’s Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. While I was aware of some of the conspiracy theories regarding 9/11 (Bush did it!), I didn’t know how incredibly nuts (and logistically impossible) most of them are. I don’t know if they are still a thing and I don’t really care. What’s interesting is that Taibbi compares these followers (apparently they represent the more left-leaning liberal nut job faction) with his fellow members of Hagee’s megachurch (representing the right-wing nut jobs). What he found in common with both of these groups is their complete disillusionment with American government: There was a consequence, a flip side to the oligarchical rigged game of Washington politics: apparently recognizing that they’d been abandoned by their putative champions in Washington, the public was now, rightly it seemed, tuning out of the political mainstream. But they weren’t tuning out in order to protest their powerlessness more effectively; they were tuning in to competing versions of purely escapist lunacy. On both the left and the right, huge chunks of the population were effecting nearly identical retreats into conspiratorial weirdness and Internet-fueled mysticism (3). Taibbi goes on to say that as a country, we’re so divided that we can no longer see a way of working together to create a productive future and politicians, “with their automated speeches and canned blather…were now not only not believed by most ordinary people, but actively despised” (6). This is certainly the case this year. Both Democrats and Republicans rejected the typical candidates in overwhelming numbers and the excitement was for Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Democrats, perhaps more nervous and less ready for Sander’s socialist-leaning ideas, voted for Hillary Clinton and declared her the nominee. Trump, marketing himself as a one-stop superman to fix all of America’s problems (fictional or factual), is responding to the discontent felt by many Americans. Trump, if not Clinton (who represents status-quo, business-as-usual government) seems to be an obvious pick for many voters when you consider how disillusioned we all are and how much distrust there is for the news media: “What we have in Washington now is a systemic kind of corruption, a corruption of the whole organism of government. And it’s that corruption at the core of the American polity that’s radiated into the rest of the population, sending out ripples of madness and discontent” (24). 2016 seems to me to be the year that much of these “ripples of madness and discontent” are coming to fruition. One last quote from Taibbi, a quote that seems so incredibly prescient considering how shattered the Republican party is now: But out there, on the campaign trail, you can already feel the vibe changing. Particularly on the Republican side, you can see that the paranoia conjured by all those years of right-wing oracles telling people that they’ve been lied to by the “liberal media” is blowing up in some prominent faces. This is the problem with training people to believe they’re being lied to; after seven years of Bush, some Republicans raised on that kind of education are beginning to wonder just who else exactly has been lying to them (263). With the rise of the Tea Party and now Donald Trump, I think that’s exactly what’s happening. People (predominately Republican voters) seem to be now not just questioning the “liberal media,” but all mainstream media, even Fox News. There is a loss of objectivity and a lack of critical thinking and an overall sense that no major news outlet, be it Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, the Washington Post, the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal is to be trusted. Even the conservative stalwart, the National Review, is not above scrutiny by its own targeted readers. This is a dangerous development: if trusted news sources are now not trustworthy and facts have no meaning, then how do we make decisions? What information do we base our judgments on? Some people are turning to extremist views found (primarily) on the Internet and posted on social media. It’s always comforting to be told your perspective is valid. I don’t think that’s necessarily helpful. I prefer to recognize that most media outlets have corporate owners and that can affect the content of their coverage and perhaps how coverage is presented. There’s a handy website (www.stateofthemedia.org) that reports the basic facts of what corporation owns what news source. Five or six major corporations control most of our news coverage. If that doesn’t make you sick to your stomach, I don’t know what will. This is why I try to get my news (generally, not just political) from many different sources. While the specifics of The Great Derangement are somewhat outdated, Taibbi’s overall message that the American political system is corrupt and works well only for the wealthy corporations and individuals who reap the most rewards is not stale. His anger and irritation at people for investing in conspiracy theories when the real corruption is right out in the open is evident, as is his sympathy for the same people who feel abandoned both by their elected leaders and journalists. He isn’t as harsh with journalists as he is with politicians, but he doesn’t excuse them either. This book is more of an exploration of American disappointment in the political process and Taibbi’s own loss of idealism than an objective journalistic investigation. It’s equally interesting and depressing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Brian Griffith

    Taibbi commendably takes his journalist spotlight off the corrupt actors on Washington's center stage, and instead investigates the most disaffected ordinary Americans. But to do so he goes undercover, posing as a believer in far right-wing Christian-Zionism, or far-left 9/11 conspiracy theories. He basically plays Borat, inventing oddball past experiences to play his part, and letting the unsuspecting locals make fools of themselves for the camera. Later Taibbi gives his real opinions of what i Taibbi commendably takes his journalist spotlight off the corrupt actors on Washington's center stage, and instead investigates the most disaffected ordinary Americans. But to do so he goes undercover, posing as a believer in far right-wing Christian-Zionism, or far-left 9/11 conspiracy theories. He basically plays Borat, inventing oddball past experiences to play his part, and letting the unsuspecting locals make fools of themselves for the camera. Later Taibbi gives his real opinions of what idiots they are, and asks what America is coming to. Only slowly does Taibbi's basic compassion for these people rise to the fore. These are people, he reasons, both conservatives and liberals, who feel so conned by the political rip-off system that they can't tell who to trust. And maybe, Taibbi suspects, part of the con has been to get them to blame and hate each other.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Hecht

    For fans of Taibbi, this is pure gold. If you want a sense of how fucked up things are, it's a perfect read: a s edifying as it is entertaining. For fans of Taibbi, this is pure gold. If you want a sense of how fucked up things are, it's a perfect read: a s edifying as it is entertaining.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    Dated and fascinating. The 9/11 truth stuff is great, as is Taibbi developing as a writer. Allegedly this is at odds with some of his stuff in Hate Inc, we’ll see.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    After having spent time as a participant-observer with extreme evangelical christians and hardcore believers in 911 as government conspiracy—more time with the former—reporter Matt Taibbi examines both as reactionary faiths: popular movements that lend meaning in a world rendered opaque by a derelict media that obfuscates the actions of the political class upon which it should be reporting. His encounters are with those who have been—pardon the pun—left behind by the prime movers of society. He After having spent time as a participant-observer with extreme evangelical christians and hardcore believers in 911 as government conspiracy—more time with the former—reporter Matt Taibbi examines both as reactionary faiths: popular movements that lend meaning in a world rendered opaque by a derelict media that obfuscates the actions of the political class upon which it should be reporting. His encounters are with those who have been—pardon the pun—left behind by the prime movers of society. He posits that the superstitious means by which these folks construct their worldview is a response to a grievous lack of meaning via empirical means. Taibbi's ability to sympathise with those he encounters (no mean feat in the case of the 911 'truth' movement, which has publicly reviled the man and sent him tons of hate mail) lets him avoid the easy characterization that these people are uninformed and stupid; however his sympathy does not segue into hagiography, circumstance does not absolve the ignorant of all complicity in their failure, and particular venom is directed towards those who would personally profit (oily church leaders and militant leftists) from the ersatz logic of their milieu. Most political writing has a short shelf-life. After quite astutely (and humorously) having skewered the bogus red/blue, left/right political nonsense of the times in postscript the author notes a nascent change, a weakening of the polarization that has gripped the U.S. for so long. People are finally starting to talk to each other as informed members of a tessellated electorate instead of as allies or enemies divided by the Fox News view of the world. This book was a gift from buddy of mine who, despite his cannibal nature, has managed to peel back the dead skin mask of American politics quite effectively. Thanks Dirk!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn Bashaar

    Some parts of this book were very funny, but overall it is sad because the people Taibbi met with are just pathetic. On the right wing, he went undercover as a fundamentalist Christian, and on the left wing, he investigated the 9/11 "Truth" movement. The common thread between both groups was that they had shut their brains off. This book made some of the same points as The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby, which I also read recently. Both books decry the growing irrationality - indeed AN Some parts of this book were very funny, but overall it is sad because the people Taibbi met with are just pathetic. On the right wing, he went undercover as a fundamentalist Christian, and on the left wing, he investigated the 9/11 "Truth" movement. The common thread between both groups was that they had shut their brains off. This book made some of the same points as The Age of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby, which I also read recently. Both books decry the growing irrationality - indeed ANTI rationality - of many Americans. But Jacoby's book was more analytical and focused more on cultural influences. Taibbi's book was more journalistic and focused more on the political. His premise is that people retreat into irrational paradigms that SEEM to make sense of everything because they are so disillusioned by a political system that disenfranchises them. I don't know if I buy that or not. Writing in 2007, even before the financial meltdown, he's very cynical about American politics. One great quote: "Without oil, we're Bangladesh with fat people." An exaggeration, but funny, and it does make the very important point that oil culture is on borrowed time and we better find an alternative SOON.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    If it weren't so grim, Taibbi's book would be perfect. I went in expecting a thorough shredding of the modern dominionist movement, and while there are certainly some damning passages, the book's emphasis is more nuanced. Taibbi studies three worlds in turn: the deep-texas congregation of political firebrand/megachurch preacher John Haggee, the unhinged world of Bush-hating 9/11 Truthers, and the cynical swamp of day-to-day Congressional governance. Taibbi's premise is that as Democrats and Repub If it weren't so grim, Taibbi's book would be perfect. I went in expecting a thorough shredding of the modern dominionist movement, and while there are certainly some damning passages, the book's emphasis is more nuanced. Taibbi studies three worlds in turn: the deep-texas congregation of political firebrand/megachurch preacher John Haggee, the unhinged world of Bush-hating 9/11 Truthers, and the cynical swamp of day-to-day Congressional governance. Taibbi's premise is that as Democrats and Republicans drag more and more of the work of governing into the world of late-hours behind-closed-doors old-boys wrangling, more and more citizens are pushed towards the fringes of conspiracy theory and rage -- regardless of their underlying political orientation. It's a hard theory to dismiss as the book unfolds; no real conclusion is offered, but it's a startlingly charitable way to view groups that are often demonized.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

    Reading this book was a spectacular waste of time. Taibbi wants to look into why the political situation in this country is so polarized and dysfunctional so he embeds himself into the 9/11 Truth movement and into a fundamentalist Texas megachurch. But this is not investigative journalism and it certainly isn’t participant observation. Rather Taibbi hides his true identity and presents himself in both venues as something he isn’t in order to gain access to the inner life and logic of the organiz Reading this book was a spectacular waste of time. Taibbi wants to look into why the political situation in this country is so polarized and dysfunctional so he embeds himself into the 9/11 Truth movement and into a fundamentalist Texas megachurch. But this is not investigative journalism and it certainly isn’t participant observation. Rather Taibbi hides his true identity and presents himself in both venues as something he isn’t in order to gain access to the inner life and logic of the organizations. Where a competent journalist might offer an analysis and commentary demonstrating new insight and understanding of the phenomena, Taibbi comes off as a duplicitous and arrogant narcissist. Unable to offer a trenchant discussion on his chosen question, he provides profanity-laced narrative and dialogue that all too frequently read like many conversations among inebriated college fraternity men.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    The comparisons to Hunter S. Thompson are widespread and inevitable. After all, Taibbi not only shows much of Thompsons's influence, he's a national political writer/editor for Rolling Stone. But Taibbi also shows a voice of his own, updating that sense of moral outrage and energetic despair for the modern political climate. His discussions of where and how American government have gone wrong, and how it has left Americans on both sides of the political spectrum moving around in bewildered inani The comparisons to Hunter S. Thompson are widespread and inevitable. After all, Taibbi not only shows much of Thompsons's influence, he's a national political writer/editor for Rolling Stone. But Taibbi also shows a voice of his own, updating that sense of moral outrage and energetic despair for the modern political climate. His discussions of where and how American government have gone wrong, and how it has left Americans on both sides of the political spectrum moving around in bewildered inanity show an admirable humanity towards his subjects without pulling any punches. No one gets completely off the hook for the bankrupt content of American culture, but the culture itself is a cause as well as a symptom. The chapter on how legislation works in today's congress is terrifying and, in the purest sense of the word, outrageous.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    The Derangement is about the loss of a collective public narrative during the Bush era. People on the right and left started to use his wonderful term “reality shopping” to find their own narrative. He explores and infiltrates Pastor Hagee’s megachurch and the 9/11 truth movement. He finds an America disenchanted with its political options, seeking easy superhero narratives (the Matrix and V for vendetta being common touchstones), and mostly very lonely. I found this book deeply sad, the optimis The Derangement is about the loss of a collective public narrative during the Bush era. People on the right and left started to use his wonderful term “reality shopping” to find their own narrative. He explores and infiltrates Pastor Hagee’s megachurch and the 9/11 truth movement. He finds an America disenchanted with its political options, seeking easy superhero narratives (the Matrix and V for vendetta being common touchstones), and mostly very lonely. I found this book deeply sad, the optimism of the conspiracy theorist (even though they think they are facing a truly evil and murderous foe) versus the cynicism, disinterest and shabbiness of reality is deeply depressing. Taibbi finds humanity in both of these camps and avoids easy humor, even though he exposes some troubling beliefs and subtexts in the current era of popular movements.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kam

    Great writing. I love his point of view. I didn't click "amazing" above because I didn't really understand the tie-ins of the Christianity with the derangement, aside from just "going out there", meaning way out in weird land. He'd kind of pop around, and have very savable sudden insights, but I couldn't really put together the different areas. Also, the 36% figure on people who think that 9/11 was an inside job, I don't know about that. And lots of time was spent on them, "the Truthers"; Does n Great writing. I love his point of view. I didn't click "amazing" above because I didn't really understand the tie-ins of the Christianity with the derangement, aside from just "going out there", meaning way out in weird land. He'd kind of pop around, and have very savable sudden insights, but I couldn't really put together the different areas. Also, the 36% figure on people who think that 9/11 was an inside job, I don't know about that. And lots of time was spent on them, "the Truthers"; Does not have substance there to continue holding my interest. He is brave and interesting and refreshing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

    I wanted to read something mean and funny, only to feel a bit bad when he says in the introduction he doesn't want to be that guy that people only think of because he's mean and funny, but still. Not bad otherwise, particularly for the look into the specific varieties of crazy out there. As a former member of something not entirely unlike a cult, I already knew that people who's lives consist of a string of tiny, nameless indignities building up to a banal grey loneliness will go insane in virtu I wanted to read something mean and funny, only to feel a bit bad when he says in the introduction he doesn't want to be that guy that people only think of because he's mean and funny, but still. Not bad otherwise, particularly for the look into the specific varieties of crazy out there. As a former member of something not entirely unlike a cult, I already knew that people who's lives consist of a string of tiny, nameless indignities building up to a banal grey loneliness will go insane in virtually any way they're offered.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Connie

    I am only a few chapters in to this book, but am enjoying it thoroughly. Of course, the subject matter is depressing as hell, but his writing is superb. Presently I am nearing the end of the chapter in which he recounts his foray into the world of the fundamentalist 'Christians'. He attends some 'seminars' and 'encounter weekends' under an assumed name and identity, for one thing. Having at one time in my life been exposed to this type of religious whackiness, his recounting of his experiences ri I am only a few chapters in to this book, but am enjoying it thoroughly. Of course, the subject matter is depressing as hell, but his writing is superb. Presently I am nearing the end of the chapter in which he recounts his foray into the world of the fundamentalist 'Christians'. He attends some 'seminars' and 'encounter weekends' under an assumed name and identity, for one thing. Having at one time in my life been exposed to this type of religious whackiness, his recounting of his experiences rings true. He is also wickedly funny.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ken

    A very enjoyable and educational read. Just how much bullshit can the American public be expected to absorb before we all collectively Lose Our Shit!! Both The Left and The Right are bristling with righteous indignation and rage, but it is all misdirected at the wrong targets. The media has failed miserably to keep the nation informed, and The Internet only added to the confusion. Favorite Concept: "You don't get elected to break the law, you get elected to change the law so that no law is broke A very enjoyable and educational read. Just how much bullshit can the American public be expected to absorb before we all collectively Lose Our Shit!! Both The Left and The Right are bristling with righteous indignation and rage, but it is all misdirected at the wrong targets. The media has failed miserably to keep the nation informed, and The Internet only added to the confusion. Favorite Concept: "You don't get elected to break the law, you get elected to change the law so that no law is broken".

  22. 5 out of 5

    flannery

    Really? Prep school douche travels to middle America and chuckles at fatties? I agree with everything Taibbi says but I still found this book unpleasant and unfunny. Rolling Stone journalist from NYC insinuates himself in a Texas megachurch, exhausts himself early thinking of creative ways to describe white trash, makes some pretty obvious points about church and state, sits on his laurels as "the next Hunter S. Thompson," eats shit. Great for people who haven't seen "Jesus Camp" but still would Really? Prep school douche travels to middle America and chuckles at fatties? I agree with everything Taibbi says but I still found this book unpleasant and unfunny. Rolling Stone journalist from NYC insinuates himself in a Texas megachurch, exhausts himself early thinking of creative ways to describe white trash, makes some pretty obvious points about church and state, sits on his laurels as "the next Hunter S. Thompson," eats shit. Great for people who haven't seen "Jesus Camp" but still would like to have an opinion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    McGrouchpants. McGrouchpants!

    Hilarious, empathetic, and edifying. Matt Taibbi goes places most people wouldn't go — and places those people wouldn't go, to those other places over there, to where that first group wouldn't've been caught dead — to do the footwork and give you the skinny on the "political spectrum" in contemporary America. (Though, by now, this 2008 book'll need updating — who could've predicted a Donald Trump run[*]? Geez!) Read this one or risk being less prepared. Word to your mother! ---------------------- Hilarious, empathetic, and edifying. Matt Taibbi goes places most people wouldn't go — and places those people wouldn't go, to those other places over there, to where that first group wouldn't've been caught dead — to do the footwork and give you the skinny on the "political spectrum" in contemporary America. (Though, by now, this 2008 book'll need updating — who could've predicted a Donald Trump run[*]? Geez!) Read this one or risk being less prepared. Word to your mother! ----------------------------------------------- [*] Dated comment, already. — ed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Taibbi is a talented writer. He does a good job of making the bizarre scenes into which he put himself compelling and quite funny. But a shorter version of the book might read like this: "There are all kinds of crazy people in this country(like, way crazier than me), and I spent a LOT of time talking to them. Unfortunately, talking to the crazies has made me so tired and cranky that I don't have much of anything to say about what all of this means." Taibbi is a talented writer. He does a good job of making the bizarre scenes into which he put himself compelling and quite funny. But a shorter version of the book might read like this: "There are all kinds of crazy people in this country(like, way crazier than me), and I spent a LOT of time talking to them. Unfortunately, talking to the crazies has made me so tired and cranky that I don't have much of anything to say about what all of this means."

  25. 4 out of 5

    Luke Meehan

    Angry man Taibbi is always entertaining, and whilst this book goes a little further than blind fury / maudlin despair, it feels shallow. At its strongest it details Taibbi's odd integration into an evangelical community, or discusses the essential emptiness of US political journalism. But the argument feel tacked-on, and the over-arching themes fall short. It feels like a very talented journo took a summer break, and needed something to hand in after. But it could've been much more. Angry man Taibbi is always entertaining, and whilst this book goes a little further than blind fury / maudlin despair, it feels shallow. At its strongest it details Taibbi's odd integration into an evangelical community, or discusses the essential emptiness of US political journalism. But the argument feel tacked-on, and the over-arching themes fall short. It feels like a very talented journo took a summer break, and needed something to hand in after. But it could've been much more.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Genine Franklin-Clark

    Unlike The Divide, which I read cover to cover, this one fell into the usual (to me) pattern - first third engrossing, second third okay, last third repetitive and rather boring, As I keep saying,I got it the first time. Have we become a people so inattentive that everything must be repeated three times? I do like Matt Taibbi's efforts to be impartial and to understand different points of view. It's one of the things that make his work so valuable and worth reading. Unlike The Divide, which I read cover to cover, this one fell into the usual (to me) pattern - first third engrossing, second third okay, last third repetitive and rather boring, As I keep saying,I got it the first time. Have we become a people so inattentive that everything must be repeated three times? I do like Matt Taibbi's efforts to be impartial and to understand different points of view. It's one of the things that make his work so valuable and worth reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    Matt Taibbi is a young investigative reporter who writes for Rolling Stone. He embeds with Truthers, Evangelicals and troops in Iraq and lays out his observations. Excellent source of current information for those not involved in these groups yet wonder what they are all about. Read on Kindle.

  28. 4 out of 5

    David Hunt

    Imagine Hunter S. Thompson as a passive-aggressive hipster instead of a drug and aggression fueled maniac.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    Taibbi's rage is distracting occasionally, but never inappropriate. Loved this book. Taibbi's rage is distracting occasionally, but never inappropriate. Loved this book.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Not my usual cup of tea, but interesting nonetheless. Confirmed my nearly complete distaste for politics.

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