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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  ·  2,791 Ratings  ·  337 Reviews
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
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ebook, 272 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Spiegel & Grau
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Xysea
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
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Jonathan
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
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Dale
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
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
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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
joseph
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
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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
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Briana
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
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.
Jeff
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
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Jack
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
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Kam
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
Wendy
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.
Connie
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
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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 ...more
henrys-axe
Sep 21, 2014 henrys-axe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to Matt Taibbi on Real Time with Bill Maher and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and was impressed with his message. I had an idea his written works would be in line with his televised comments and I certainly got more than initially expected. His infiltration of a fundamentalist Christian church had me chuckling at some of his experiences. More importantly, the training experiences bordered on disturbing. There were a few moments in the book that I was able to see some parallels with ...more
St Fu
Jan 15, 2016 St Fu rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remarkably prescient for when it was written, 2 presidential terms ago, the derangement, extreme polarization of mutually hating factions, has only gotten worse. Dialog is impossible because we're not all playing with the same set of facts.

Why has this occurred? Taibbi thinks it's because we've been manipulated and lied to and have reached the breaking point. This is clearly a big part of it, but I see the problem as deeper. I think a second factor is that we've become more multi-cultural which
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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."
Douglas
May 05, 2014 Douglas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Wes
Jan 05, 2016 Wes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Incredibly insightful, darkly funny, and well written look into the derangement that is us. The thing we all have in common is that we are being fucked, but with so many new distractions and avenues for division among people, it really is just business as usual.

Matt Taibbi is a clever and thoughtful man, who has a clear gift for the written word. With the Rolling Stone history, it is only natural to link Taibbi with Hunter S Thompson, see a sort of spiritual legacy between the two, and want to c
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Latiffany
Jul 09, 2014 Latiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To be honest I am not sure what to say about this book. The author, Matt Taibbi is a asshole. I am sure he is aware of this and would agree with that statement. The book is sliced into several parts. Taibbi's time with John Hagee's church, the 9/11 Truth Movement, the insane way that Congress operates and a very thin slice of time spent in Baghdad. I would actually like to start with the thinnest slice.

Taibbi's time in Baghdad was one of my favorite portions of the book. It dealt with soldiers y
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Terron
Apr 29, 2014 Terron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my first Matt Taibbi book, but I was familiar with him from his work from Rolling stone and guest appearances on Real Time with Bill Maher(somewhere else that escapes me right now). He's incredibly knowledgeable and brutally honest, traits that are far more scarce in reporting than they should be. That"no punches pulled" fearlessness and honesty in his reporting is what makes the "The Great Derangement.." a compelling read but also can be responsible for the one complaint I have about it ...more
Adam
Jun 03, 2014 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
David James
Nov 05, 2014 David James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A bit disjointed, but so is the topic he covers. Anyone paying attention knows that the far right and far left are equally nuts (although the far right has political sway, something the far left doesn't). The author does a fine job of showing us why this is, with savage wit in full deployment from start to finish.

Speaking as someone who has found 9/11 Truthers particularly vexing, the satirical scene he offers of Dick Cheney & Co. cooking up the plot to destroy the World Trade Center had me
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Todd Landrum
Sep 19, 2014 Todd Landrum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Educational, plenty to think about, but boy is this depressing.

I'm not sure I buy his premise - that the political system is so warped, so un-understandable, that it drives people to crazy ideas. A simpler explanation would be that people are just dumb.

Especially depressing is the epilogue. It seems to be a tacked-on ray of hope after a full book length of despair. Like he realized the book was depressing but wanted to end on an upnote (a totally bullshit position given what he had just wrote,
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Pat
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.
Alexander Fitzgerald
It is hard to take Matt Taibbi seriously. Despite his token attempts at self-depreciation his narcissism really shines through. This is a man quite taken with his ability to reason, which ironically deludes him in so many crucial points. That said, he’s developed this superiority complex for a good reason: The man makes great points. You really get a feel for how America is breaking down when he takes you into the halls of congress, Truth Movement meetings, and Evangelical church retreats.

Unfort
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Elena
Hilarious, as always. The best part was when they let him loose in the fundamentalist congregation in Texas. (In the name of Jesus, I cast out the demon of handwriting analysis!) He also hits the nail right on the head in discussing the 9/11 Truthers, and the best part about him is how he seems to share all of these people's obssessive and insane wiring, though he redirects it. He is absolutely too funny for words, and is a fitting heir to Hunter S. Thompson (who he seems to emulate but never ev ...more
Jeff
Oct 04, 2014 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taibbi, I think, genuinely tries to understand the socio-cultural factors that lead people to join "fringe" groups like born-again christians and 9/11 truthers. Honestly, dude has 1000x more patience with them than I would ever have... but the highlight of the book is the contrast of these "conspiracy theories" with the actual ineptitude of our political leaders to actually represent their constituents. Basically, you come away thinking like "these people (truthers/born-again people) give our le ...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.” 12 likes
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