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Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  315 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
What’s a Wingnut? It’s someone on the far-right wing or far-left wing of the political spectrum - the professional partisans and the unhinged activists, the hardcore haters and the paranoid conspiracy theorists. They’re the people who always try to divide us instead of unite us.

Wingnuts looks at the outbreak of extremism in the opening years of the Obama administration – f
Paperback, 284 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Beast Books (first published 2004)
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Jennifer Jacobs
A very entertaining overview of far left and far right in America!
This book is by the Daily Beast and in the polarized American Politics,this balanced narrative is as good as it ever gets!
The book is a 250+ pages quick read on the most outrageous statements and transgressions of both liberals and conservatives in America!From the Bush hating Liberals,9/11 truthers to Obama hating,flag having gun humping bible thumping conservative hatriots this book covers all the craziness in the US politics!
Nov 10, 2011 Melki rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
In the publishing glut of "novels" by Rush Ann O'Reilly Limbaugh-Beck, it's nice to occasionally hear something from the other side of the fence.
Avlon attempts to present a "fair and balanced" look at political blowhards and their followers by including Keith Olbermann and a look at the 9/11 conspiracy theories, but let's face it -- liberals just do not ride the crazy train as well as their right-wing counterparts. One group of people signs petitions and talks amongst themselves in hushed voices
Jun 01, 2010 Tim rated it really liked it
Obama’s a Nazi! Buy Gold! Who is ‘The Worst Person in the World?’

What has happened to the news media? It has become polarized in search of ratings, is what happened; at least according to John Avlon in his new book (and the first book from The Daily Beast) ‘Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America.’

Led by the radical voices of the far right wing (the ‘fright wing’ as Avlon calls them) this largely insane polarizing of the extreme left and right is driven by two factors according to
Blog on Books
Jul 26, 2010 Blog on Books rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obama’s a Nazi! Buy Gold! Who is ‘The Worst Person in the World?’

What has happened to the news media? It has become polarized in search of ratings, is what happened; at least according to John Avlon in his new book (and the first book from The Daily Beast) ‘Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America.’

Led by the radical voices of the far right wing (the ‘fright wing’ as Avlon calls them) this largely insane polarizing of the extreme left and right is driven by two factors according to
May 15, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it
An excellent primer on the current Wingnut crazies. John Avlon is an excellent voice of reason in the current internet media. He touches base on everything from the conspiracists of the Birthers and Truthers, to the media noise-makers like Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, passing sufficient critical judgement when and where it is needed. As well as revealing the simply ridiculousness of some of the claims. I love his level headed, and personal reporter's experience, with the Tea ...more
Cedric Hendrix
Aug 01, 2012 Cedric Hendrix rated it really liked it
American politics has gone bat@$#% crazy. Loudmouths from the far left and the far right are the only people being heard, and their voices are driving the electoral process. John Avlon puts a few names and movements to the ideals that our dividing our country, and offers sanity in the suggestion that extremism from either side will do the country no good. It would do extremists good to read "Wingnuts," but the real benefit may be to those who consider themselves center-right or -left, and feel t ...more
Apr 19, 2011 Page rated it did not like it
The writer starts from his point of view as THE ONE point of view which enlightened people should have. To be fair, he went after both left and right, and far right, and middle right. I found his whole premise composed of strawmen and lack of complete facts. Sure a dude out of thousands says something ignorant about Obama. When talking about "violence" at tea rallies he failed to mentioned the anti-tea party were responsible.

Just watch Fox News,CNN and MSNBC and see wingnuts in action.
Apr 21, 2010 Marsha rated it really liked it
Great book - It's an expose of the political fringes and a rallying cry for radical centrists. Reminded me of how the wingnuts have been using the same scare tactics and manipulations for a very long time.
Nov 29, 2016 Elisabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
This isn't a great book; it skins over complicated issues quickly and engages in the typical false equivalencies journalists use when they're trying not to sound partisan. But I would recommend it anyhow because it's such a comforting book to read if you (like me) have spent the days since Trump's election terrified.

Basically, it reminded me that a lot of people hated Obama every bit as much as I hate Trump, suggesting it is just barely possible Trump may also not actually be Hitler. (I know, s
Michael T.
Aug 02, 2011 Michael T. rated it liked it
A very informative work, a quick read, with lots of good information, and with one big fat flaw in it's thesis -- I'll call it an "equivalency" problem. To paraphrase said thesis, most Americans are somewhere in the middle of the "political spectrum", and yet a disproportionate amount of modern day media coverage has been hijacked by extremists on both the political right AND the political left. Good so far, right? Well, right. But where's the left? Don't get me wrong. Believe me, I've seen my s ...more
Feb 12, 2011 Helynne rated it really liked it
I find the title word Wingnuts delightfully appropriate, although it is just another of many epithets such as dork or dingbat that so aptly describe many politicians, political commentators and pundits of our day. The book’s cover features photos of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck and Keith Olberman, although author John Avlon refers to numerous other people of their sort who talk a lot—really a lot—without doing their homework, and stir up public fear and discontent without a care as to whether they ar ...more
John Defrog
Feb 06, 2016 John Defrog rated it liked it
This is John Avlon’s chronicle of the rise of fearmongering extremist political rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle in recent times (that is, up to 2010, when the book was published) – which means that anyone who’s not a centrist is going to find something here to offend them. It also means that what you make of it is probably going to depend where yr own political views lie. The book is generally intended as a wake-up call to centrists to stand up to extremist politicians and pundits ...more
Jul 13, 2010 Bunny rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-10
This book is scarier than anything Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Richard Matheson combined could come up with.

I'm downright horrified. When I started this, I worried that, during the Bush administration, I became a bit of a Wingnut. I shuddered to think I was anything like the people (both liberal and conservative) showcased in these pages.

I'm 98.5% certain I was NEVER this bad.

I believe in freedom of speech. I believe people should express their political beliefs often and loudly. But I don't
Have you ever watched political commentary and thought, those people are crazy? Or these people are way to angry and loud? Our nation has a history of hysteria in politics, from the Know-Nothings down to the present... the sad news is that they are louder and better paid than ever. And dare I say it, more crazy too.

Why I started this book: Eye catching title and it was a short audio.

Why I finished it: Written in 2010, some of the references are already dated but I enjoyed Avlon's insight into bo
Sep 24, 2010 Lam rated it it was ok
I read this book for one of my book groups. I would not have chosen to read it on my own. It's the kind of book that makes me both anxious and depressed. The author piles up example after example of the insane things that people can be convinced to believe. That Obama can be accused of being both a nazi and a communist, what does that say about people's grasp of history? My favorite parts were the chapters where the author addressed these two accusations. First, he interviews a member of the Ame ...more
Dec 02, 2010 Jane rated it liked it
Don't know why I expected more of the liberal wingnuts covered when it's written by The Daily Beast's John Avlon. It covered a lot of territory I was unaware of or, at least, never gave much thought to about extreme-extreme right wing organizations. In fact it may have been more information than I wanted to know. It talks about groups that really want to over throw the government. And groups that are so paranoid that their reactions to world events could be irrational. In fact, a lot of these gr ...more
Jun 10, 2011 Angel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2011
With unfounded accusations passing as political discourse hyper-partisanship at an all time high this book is a timely examination of how the situation got this bad. Only by understanding the problem can we hope to put a stop to it.

Wingnuts at both the right and left ends of the political spectrum are examined. That said, a good deal more time is spent examining the right-wing extremists than the left, most likely because it's currently the loudest fringe faction ... if the book had been written
Oct 25, 2015 Mitchell rated it really liked it
Fairly readable. As a self-declared moderate I wanted to see more. But it would certainly seem hard to be current on extremism as well as historical. I doubt that very many people I know would believe the majority of the stuff in this book. But then again I consider what I believed possible in the George W. Bush administration and it explains a lot of the 'not sure'. As an agnostic it is hard for me not to find it somewhat reasonable for someone to say not proven to just about anything. Hopefull ...more
Feb 20, 2016 Beth rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I've always liked John Avlon, and I believe he manages to be fair while also calling BS when it needs to be called. He rightly points out that wingnuttery happens on both sides of the aisle, but it's obvious that the majority of it happens on the far right. This isn't a matter of's reality.

He calls for increased civility and standing up for reason, including to those in our own party. I don't see that happening nationwide anytime soon, but I try to do t
Mar 23, 2010 Brian rated it it was amazing
A great book that shows how crazy people can get when it comes to politics. It shows the 'wingnuts' from both the right and the left. It seems to focus a little bit more on the right because of the craziness that is coming from the political right extreme right now. It does, however, show how this was taking place amongst the crazy left when the republicans were in charge during the Bush presidency.

If you want to get some perspective on politics, I highly recommend this book. It is a quick and f
Matt Hein
Apr 16, 2010 Matt Hein rated it it was amazing
Great book! It is scary to me how polarized we are getting and how fear is being consumed on both sides as fast as the Wingnuts can serve it up. Fear in the name of truth is what has me most concerned. To be continued...

"In his Farewell Address, George Washington made it clear that he perceived no greater threat to the American experiment than a partisan demagogue who 'agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another.'"

Pat Schakelvoort
Dec 24, 2013 Pat Schakelvoort rated it it was ok
The author claims that the extreme wings, hijack the political wings. But mostly goes off on the rightwing. It's a fact that the old and grey fractions of the parties are easily taken over.

He could have done more research, he takes the Gasparian hoax for granted: "Man claims to be persecuted by the nazis in Armenia. Although the nazis were never in Armenia." He calls the nazi-klan shootings: "The Greensboro Massacre". A term only used by the far-left to boast their "martyrdom" and he fails to m
Aug 22, 2012 Emma rated it liked it
Shelves: politics
Interesting overview of the radical left and right in US politics and media, and some analysis of why they have gained such prominence.
I wished for more explanation, from outside the US it seems inexplicable how these people have such influence.

Avlon suggests some fixes for the political structure to re-balance US politics, but the chances of what he suggests happening seem, to me, extremely unlikely.

but at some point common sense must come back, surely?

Jun 28, 2010 Ray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect that Avlon is preaching to the choir with this book, since those that mirror and echo the rants of extreme talk-radio hosts, who Avlon defines as "wingnuts", probably won't expose themselves to the ideas of this book. And those who are likely to read it, probably already recognize the facts Avlong lays out. Nonetheless, I think Avlon is on to something with this book, and I hope it receives a wide distribution.
Aug 07, 2012 Robert rated it liked it
I always wonder if some of the people who are considered the media "Wingnuts" really believe everything they say or if they do it mainly for shock value and to massage their own egos. That is the main reason this book fascinated me. The book does what you would expect focusing on the extremes from both sides (it seems to focus a little more on the Republican and Tea Party advocates). My beliefs in my first sentence only grew stronger after reading this.
Richard Harden
Apr 11, 2010 Richard Harden rated it liked it
A timely book and an interesting. Everyone who is currently commenting on politics in this day and age should read it. Everyone who goes on air or who publishes something on the internet regarding politics should be forced to read it. I regret, however, that it is not more scholarly in its approach. Such an important theme deserves to be approached in an academic fashion, and not as a book written at the same level of education as the voices it derides.
Apr 13, 2010 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. The extremes on both sides of the political spectrum are taking control. Avlon writes: "We are caught in a pendulum swing of hyper-partisanship. The extremes echo and incite each other, confirming their side's worst stereotypes while providing the most potent recruitment poster for the other party." Bingo. This is not an ebook--but it is the only edition I could find on Goodreads...
Terry Earley
Dec 29, 2010 Terry Earley rated it it was ok
I did not get past the intro. Sorry, but after reading one very unsympathetic book on Glenn Beck, I did not need another to reconfirm my opinions of political "wingnuts".

It is just alarming to see America's political discourse becoming so polarized, and such foolish and uneducated people being idolized to the point where the line between political and Hollywood "celebrity" is now totally blurred.

Popularity and even glibness does not make one qualified to lead.
Serge Boucher
Mar 23, 2015 Serge Boucher rated it liked it
Worthwhile contribution to the description of the radicalisation of political discourse in America. Sadly, while it says a lot about *what* is happening, it remains almost mute about the "how" or "why" — analysis stops at the level of "probably the internet" — which is I think what we should be working on at this point.
Dec 06, 2011 John rated it really liked it
I was surprised how much I liked this book. Avlon is insightful, humorous and thorough in his dissection of the current political climate. I wish he had spent more time on his proposed solutions to the problems he highlights, but it also seems that calling a spade a spade is an important first step in re-capturing political debate.
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John Phillips Avlon (born 1973) is the author of Independent Nation: How Centrists Can Change American Politics and Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America. He was a columnist and associate editor for The New York Sun and worked as chief speechwriter for former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He was Director of Speechwriting and Deputy Policy Director for Giuliani's 2008 presidentia ...more
More about John P. Avlon...

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“Godwin's law states that the longer any online debate goes on, the likelier it is that someone will play the Nazi card. It's the rhetorical equivalent of going nuclear and stupid at the same time.” 4 likes
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