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

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  2,822 Ratings  ·  338 Reviews

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
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Published May 6th 2008 by Random House Audio
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Oct 17, 2008 Xysea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politic junkies, humorists, satirists, anthropologists, whack-a-doodle studiers of all kinds
Shelves: humor, political
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
Apr 14, 2009 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 ...more
Jun 17, 2008 Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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
May 29, 2008 joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taibbi's thesis: Americans no longer have shared facts or a shared pool of knowledge from which to draw conclusions about their world. The institutions that ostensibly should provide objective truth, the government and the media, do not do so. In this intellectual wilderness, Americans have created their own truths, their own narrative.

Taibbi compares two narratives that he sees as being predominant. On the right, there are evangelicals of the megachurch variety, lonely, damaged people who in e
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 ty ...more
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.
The Hermit's
Feb 13, 2013 The Hermit's rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A hilarious field report of our awakened yet lost American mindset since 9/11… and how a fu**ed up Congress really works in the interests of lobbyists and politicians-for-personal-profit.

“In all of this it seemed to me that what we were living through was the last stage of the American empire. Historians consistently describe similar phenomena in the past centuries of human experience. When the Bolsheviks finally broke through the gates of the Winter Palace, they discovered tsarists inside obses
Nov 24, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Jul 13, 2009 Briana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of Matt Taibbi's from some of his Rolling Stone coverage during the election (especially his piece about deranged Hillary supporters) and I think I would have rather read a collection of those pieces instead. The coverage of Congress was interesting (if depressing) but the main topics of the book, Christian fundamentalists obsessed with the End Times and 9-11 Truthers, covered ground I've read about before. I thought that Rapture Ready by Daniel Radosh did a better, and more sympat ...more
Aug 11, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2008 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 27, 2009 Kam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Oct 22, 2011 Ken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 01, 2011 flannery rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nov 06, 2011 Connie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 ...more
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."
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.
Jul 17, 2010 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
David Hunt
Aug 28, 2008 David Hunt rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine Hunter S. Thompson as a passive-aggressive hipster instead of a drug and aggression fueled maniac.
Jul 19, 2014 Wendy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my usual cup of tea, but interesting nonetheless. Confirmed my nearly complete distaste for politics.
Nov 25, 2008 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Taibbi's rage is distracting occasionally, but never inappropriate. Loved this book.
Apr 24, 2011 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Matt Taibbi writes like a wave breaks, a continuous chaotic turbulent line of prose that explodes and foams but carries you along, thrusts you ahead until finally you hit the shoreline of a chapter break and you can catch your breath before you turn the page and start the next wave. I've never met Taibbi, but I picture him as a thin furious man who stabs his finger onto the table to emphasize the points he's making. (Of course, now I've Googled him, I see he's not thin at all--damn you Google, s ...more
Sep 11, 2008 Drew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When Matt Taibbi first started writing about politics for Rolling Stone, I was very impressed with him. He actually let his feelings about the issues, the politicians, the behaviors they engaged in and the positions they took come through. He wasn't afraid to call someone an asshole or the son of the devil or whatever he might say to his friends while sitting around at a bar ranting, and this combined with his intelligent and incisive analysis of the things he was writing about combined to make ...more
Aug 02, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The case that Taibbi makes in this book is that our nationalpoliticians have, quite deliberately and in their own self-interest, corrupted the process of government to such an extentthat, not only has it lost any characteristics of arepresentative 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 disenfranchisedpopulation is to
Todd N
Mar 15, 2016 Todd N rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who liked "Deer Hunting With Jesus"
I have been a fan of Matt Taibbi's since I first encountered him on Since his Lennon/McCartney-like break with Mark Ames he has been doing some fantastic reporting, notably his columns about the financial crisis for Rolling Stone.

In his books and articles, dumb people are either figures of fun to be mocked mercilessly or people to be pitied and sometimes held up as symptoms of what is wrong with America. And smart people have their words translated into "what they really mean." All
Generally speaking, I'm a big fan of Matt Taibbi's writing.

Having said that, I thought the introduction to the book was misleading. The introduction makes it sound like Congress, the military, 9/11 truthers and member's of Hagee's church will be given equal time when it's mostly about the church with the truthers and Congress getting a couple chapters each while the military only gets one. The introduction also makes it sound like the soldiers he was embedded with freaked out when there was an
Jan 16, 2010 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Engrossing. Taibbi's purpose is to examine the mentality of those who, through their participation in certain social movements, become unable to see American political reality clearly. He does this quite entertainingly by recounting 1) his undercover identity as a new member of an evangelical church in Texas; 2) his encounters with leaders of the 9/11 truth movement; 3) his observations working as a member of the press covering Congress. For the latter, he observes that power in Congress is in t ...more
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“Being a wiseass in a groupthink environment is like throwing an egg at a bulldozer.” 28 likes
“To be robbed and betrayed by a fiendish underground conspiracy, or by the earthly agents of Satan, is at least a romantic sort of plight - it suggests at least a grand Hollywood-ready confrontation between good and evil - but to be coldly ripped off over and over again by a bunch of bloodless, second-rate schmoes, schmoes you chose, you elected, is not something anyone will take much pleasure in bragging about.” 13 likes
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