Deer Hunting With Jesus

Deer Hunting With Jesus

Dispatches From America's Class War

Book - 2007
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After thirty years spent scratching together a middle-class life out of a dirt-poor childhood, Joe Bageant moved back to his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, where he realized that his family and neighbors were the very people who carried George W. Bush to victory. That was ironic, because Winchester, like countless American small towns, is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass. Two in five of the people in his old neighborhood do not have high school diplomas. Nearly everyone over fifty has serious health problems, and many have no health care. Credit ratings are low or nonexistent, and alcohol, overeating, and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780307339362
030733936X
9780307339379
0307339378
Characteristics: 273 p. ; 25 cm

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c
callig
May 01, 2018

I haven't enjoyed a book on America so much since i read "How America Went Haywire" by Kurt Anderson.
Neither book acknowledges, much less even tries to explain, America's peculiar conjoined violence and passivity.
On the latter: both American and Canadian governments are just PR departments and shills for the rich that suck ever more money from everybody else, but none of us complain, making us all masochistic morons, sheeple. Maybe we're neutered by our own greed, and unconsciously reason that if we did rebel we'd remove or slash our own chances of pigging out. How else to explain our willingness to bend over for decade after decade more of the same? The final irony- inarticulately angry at our growing poverty we identify with and vote for haters, Strong Men like Harper and Trump, who grind us down all the deeper. (I've read that as WWII died, when Germany was being ravaged, approval rating for Hitler stayed high! As an American comedian put it, "We're all et up by the dumbass!".)

But both books seem accurate on the aspects they do cover. Begant is like a cross between Mark Twain or Studs Terkel and Hunter S. Thompson.
The strange title, Deer Hunting With Jesus, "captures...the intersection between hunting and religion in their lives.". I'm not convinced: the surrealism hooks interest, true; but the obscurity and offensiveness triggers dismissal.
The book is about America's underclass the much despised 'redneck' underbelly, that Bageant claims, if defined by being a wage-slave is up to 60% of total population. So his is not a specialist issue.
He may exaggerate his subjects numbers but it is widely known that the rich are getting richer at the cost of impoverishing ever more of the non-rapists. His subjects are these victims of America's unacknowledged class war, "looking as though they've been shot at missed, and shit at and hit".
With their pronounced sense of personal honor, independence, yet utter refusal to learn, (licking the hand that beats them, "They are so far right they will not eat the left wing of a chicken.")they are, en masse, tragic figures in their unlove-ability. Bageant cares for them, and they're the subjects of many eloquent passages in his book.
Just one example: (on the unsustainability of America's toxic materialism) "the White House knows it even as they, lost in pirate schemes for power, mad old men who've commandeered the nation as their getaway car, hoping to make an Evel Knievel jump over the canyon, hoping to get away clean with the whole shebang, the oil, the weapons contracts, everything- while from the backseat the silver spooners and the chickenhawk boys are yelling, "Fuck the oil slick, George*, stomp it!" (*now, Donald).
The book is also well laid-out: a chapter on why Republicans win (it's because they get their hands dirty, organize locally, while Democrats preach from their secular pulpits, disdainfully), on guns ( it ain't that simple, and even if it was, at the rate america is turning into a millitary dictatorship, wouldn't you want your own machine gun?), and another on fundamentalist Christianity (even scarier than the part on guns!). "Fundamentalism is to religion as paint-by-numbers is to art."
There is also a fascinating analysis on the scottish-irish heritage, as the genesis of american pit-bull-ism. Read it already- it has passion, local-color galore, and real scholarship. (One nice touch- a page of URL web- links.)
DISCLAIMER: I'm a Canadian, which either makes my review more objective, or less informed (your choice).

j
jackhwolf
Oct 03, 2017

The book is well written, provocative, if not inflammatory, and very funny. It is written from the perspective of a Left progressive from rural redneck roots who explains why the Left has lost that population b/c the Starbucks Whole Foods liberals are so out of touch with rural white working class America. Written in the Bush era it is even more relevant for the Trump years. I myself am more politically moderate than the author, so find some of his anti business polemic simplistic though Sanders fans would love, but as a Democrat it should be required reading if we want to win elections.

b
bogwolf
Jun 06, 2015

Bageant is a keen observer of a population seldom given a sympathetic and complex examination - working-class southern whites. And though his anger is most for the powerful of either political stripe, no one escapes unscathed. Bageant's sense of humor lessens the sting from time to time but his is a despairing voice mostly.

Two essays in particular, from this collection, stand out as excellent - perhaps even *Important*: The Ballad of Lynndie England & The American Hologram.

I advise a reader to take in all the essays in the order the author offers, but if you only have time for a couple, read those two. Good stuff.

z
zbN8MbMu
May 02, 2011

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I was so impressed with it I am looking forward to reading more of Mr. Bageant's output. I learned a great deal about the people of the US southeast from 'Deer Hunting...' and while I was often entertained and amused by the wonderful writing, I was also informed about life in those parts of the world by someone who loves and despises it; a man who grew up and escaped from it and return.

t
Tater
Aug 28, 2010

This is a very good book that goes a long way to explain why the conservative point of view is entrenched among people who have been thoroughly abused by the currently ascendant neoconservative (political)/neoliberal (economic) system. Unfortunately, reading it does not give one hope. Until quality education is extended to all citizens and a generation of working class poor develop the insight and tools to function as citizens in pursuit of betterment, they will be ignoble tools of the establishment. This will not happen in my lifetime.

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b
bogwolf
Jun 06, 2015

Bageant is a keen observer of a population seldom given a sympathetic and complex examination - working-class southern whites. And though his anger is most for the powerful of either political stripe, no one escapes unscathed. Bageant's sense of humor lessens the sting from time to time but his is a despairing voice mostly.

Two essays in particular, from this collection, stand out as excellent - perhaps even *Important*: The Ballad of Lynndie England & The American Hologram.

I advise a reader to take in all the essays in the order the author offers, but if you only have time for a couple, read those two. Good stuff.

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