Deer Hunting With Jesus by Joe Bageant

Deer_huntingJoe Bageant has a redneck’s heart and a liberal’s passion; that, by first impression, makes him a walking paradox.  This unlikely (or is it?) blend of thought makes for a fascinating dissection of the working class world by one of its own.      

Bageant has been there – from Winchester, Virginia, from hardworking folks, from being married too young, from the aftermath of sex, drugs, and Vietnam, to become one of the most refreshingly honest voices to write a book or opine online (check out joebageant.com to see what I mean).  He writes with great hope but gripping fatalism in his portrayal of working poor’s lives and how hard it is to climb out of them.  Social inequity acquires a whole new meaning – Bageant takes on the medical establishment, liberal elites, rich Republicans, and the rest of a high-faluting society that chooses to pretend that working class woes don’t exist.  And odd – he makes it an entertaining read.

Bageant also explores the historical roots of the working class mentality, citing the early settlement of Scots-Irish in the American heartland for heavily influencing both the tenacity for hard work and the contradictions of hard drinking and religious fervor that often characterize the working poor of the South. 

I liked the book.  Read it – it’s an eye-opener that deserves a bigger audience.  For musical ambiance, play some Steve Earle while you’re reading.  I’m not kidding.

Other suggestions:

Born Fighting:  How the Scots-Irish Shaped America by James Webb

Limbo:  Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams by Alfred Lubrano

The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison by Jeffrey H. Reiman

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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