When Joe Bageant returned to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, he rediscovered his redneck roots: ‘the great beery, NASCAR-loving, church-going, gun-owning America that has never set foot in a Starbucks’. But he soon realised that these were the very people who had carried George W. Bush to victory.
This seemed ironic, because Winchester, like countless American small towns, was fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass — a white ghetto of the working poor in which two in five people do not finish high school, nearly everyone over fifty has serious health problems and little or no health care, and credit ratings are virtually nonexistent.
What it adds up to, Bageant argues, is an unacknowledged, American class war from which alcohol, overeating, and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.
Deer Hunting with Jesus is a raucous mix of storytelling and political commentary. Bageant delivers a dose of redneck reality, describing ‘white trashonomics’ (mortgage and credit-card rackets that saddle the working poor with debt), the ubiquitous gun culture, factory jobs that are constantly on the verge of being outsourced, and the heady blend of Scots Irish culture with the blinkered ‘magical thinking’ of the Christian right.
By turns brutal, tender, incendiary, and seriously funny, Deer Hunting with Jesus is a potent antidote to what Bageant dubs ‘the American hologram’— the televised, corporatised, virtual reality that distracts us from the insidious realities of American life.
‘Bageant has real empathy for the working poor, sketching their lives with humour and compassion.’
John Wishart, Australian Options
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‘Bageant mixes a reporter's keen analysis, a storyteller's colour, and a native son's love of his roots in this absorbing dissection of America's working poor ... wise, tender, and acerbic.’
‘A raucous mix of storytelling and political commentary, Deer Hunting with Jesus is Bageant's report on what he learned by coming home.’
‘Joe Bageant must be one of only a handful of people who can provide an understanding of what America's redneck underclass is thinking. The mix of storytelling and political commentary is superb.’
Tim Jamieson, Daily Telegraph
‘Joe Bageant must be one of only a handful of people who can provide an understanding of what America's redneck underclass is thinking. The mix of storytelling and political commentary is superb … brilliant.’
‘Deer Hunting With Jesus reads … like the inciting manifesto for the Occupy movement. Written by the too-soon-dead author Joe Bageant … spent years blogging on socially forward sites in his gruff, straight-up Southern manner and this book compresses his musings into one funny, loving, thought-provoking book about rednecks.’
‘Dead serious and damn funny ... Bageant writes with the ghosts of Hunter S. Thompson, Will Rogers, and Frank Zappa kibitzing over his shoulder ...’
‘To understand why dirt-poor white American earning $9 an hour, no health insurance and no job security, are fiercely patriotic, hate unions and proudly vote Republican, read this book ... Brilliant.’
Frank Walker, Sun Herald
‘This is a wonderful scream of rage at how Karl Rove and his cohorts have persuaded a mass of Americans to vote against their best interests.’
Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald
‘The single most insightful book about America available — written in fluid, hilarious prose by one of the great American writers of his generation.’