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The Backlash

3.54 of 5 stars 3.54  ·  rating details  ·  147 ratings  ·  34 reviews
They Think Obama Isn't an American Citizen.
They Think Obama Wants to Put Americans in Concentration Camps.
They Think Obama Is the Anti-Christ.
This Isn't Just the Tea Party—Welcome to the Backlash.

In November 2008, the election of Barack Obama was supposed to usher in a new age of hope, optimism, and postpartisan politics. Instead it provoked unparalleled anger on the far
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ebook, 384 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by HarperCollins e-books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 367)
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Kristen
While Bunch doesn't offer much new information on the emergence of the Tea Party, he does weaved together a fascinating narrative that puts the Tea Party in a context that allows those of us baffled by them to attain a bit more understanding.

The author points out these types of fringe groups have always existed but where marginalized and the biggest change is simply that now they have their own news channel. No one would deny that much of the backlash against the current president stems from fe
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Myron
Sep 13, 2010 Myron rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Skeptics, Liberals, Democrats, Progressives
Shelves: politics
Good book although it took a while to get accustomed to Bunch's writing in the second person for approximately half of each chapter. He does an excellent job of exposing the self-serving and somewhat internally inconsistent agendas of Glenn Beck. I was also pleasently pleased to note that Bunch makes this book 'personal' by interviewing real people and providing their views as well as providing research derived from Toffler's Future Shock and Becker's The Denial of Death. I'd recommend you read ...more
Rebecca
This book was riveting for the way it contextualized the Tea Party movement in the wake of Obama's first election. Not a lot of new information for politically conscious readers, but putting it all together does offer new rhetorical insights. I think Bunch believes he's playing to his audience when he gets in his little snarky digs, but those didn't sit well with me as a reader. The people he's talking about genuinely are frightened, and he's right to say liberals need to acknowledge that in ord ...more
Luke Goldstein
There are many things that connect us all, no matter where we live, what color we are and which God we believe in. One of the deepest and most integral of those connections is fear. We all have it, whether it’s worrying about the spread of Communism, the shortage of scientific breakthroughs toward a cure for cancer, or maybe just late night jitters about the foul-smelling thing hiding underneath the bed. Most of it can be boiled down to a simple phrase, “fear of the other“. While some fears can ...more
Dr.
I enjoyed reading this book mostly because it does a really good job of breaking down Glen Beck and his particular profit-driven brand of sensational fear/paranoia mongering. I have no qualms saying that more than any other figure on the right that man is toxic not only to his listeners, but to the entire political discourse going on in this country. Especially because he is "educating" people about history which is so off the mark and often straight up wrong. I once heard him say on his radio s ...more
Kelly
Will Bunch has written a decent piece of investigative journalism that covers large swaths of terrain already familiar to most political junkies. Even so, to read his book is instructive. Much of his effort is expended in trying to answer the question of why so many Americans have become acolytes of Glenn Beck and his hokey brand of libertarian politics. It turns out to be a more difficult task than one might expect. To begin with, many of those who self-identify with the "Tea Party" say that th ...more
John
I am so glad to be a Canadian. (Also to see the great Richard Hofstader getting his due: Bunch is a fan of his 1964 essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics.) Sorry for your troubles, Americans.

I got this because I'm still on the wait-list for Among the Truthers at my library. It's not bad but not great either. Bunch falls in with some Tea Party, 9-12 Patriot, Glenn Beck followers and uses their stories to look at Birthers, militias and other disaffected right wing conspiracy- believers. T
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Lara
For the most part, this book was awful. The author does not appear to understand basic pronouns and uses dashes so much, often incorrectly, that I really had to restrain myself from marking this book up with my red pen. Here's an example of this "creative" style:

"You decide that you've heard enough and take a walk back under the pole tent, to see what Joe Gayan is up to. When you reach his stall, a few customers are milling around, fondling Gayan's birther-porn DVDs and then putting them back in
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Samantha
An interesting investigation of some of the players in the right wing noise machine, along with some conversations with folks on the ground who have gotten involved in the tea party movement. But I found two things that were bothersome. First, it jumped around too much - activists are introduced for a few pages, and then never heard from again, while others are threaded throughout the book. Second, Bunch has this really annoying habit of writing in the 2nd person, but only half the time (otherwi ...more
Peacegal
Like many self-identified liberals, I have struggled to understand the motives and beliefs that drive the Tea Party and other reactionary, right-wing organizations. Why so much fear and rage? Why the almost-religious devotion to FOX News and right-wing political entertainers, especially Glenn Beck? After my retiree book group members turned yet another discussion into a sounding board for the views and statements of O'Reilly and his ilk, I turned to this book.

And while Bunch won't give you all t
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Tony Heyl
Written by a blogger and columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, Bunch goes into the frothy anger and paranoia of the Tea Party and the backlash to Obama. He goes into some detail about Glenn Beck's masterful hucksterism, but also spends time interviewing true believers from Delaware and Pennsylvania out to Florida and Arizona. The fringe conspiracy theorists are not new, but now more connected through the Internet, mass gatherings, and talk radio, and given a new level of credibility throug ...more
John
Author does a good job explaining the sustained hysteria on the far right during President Obama's first term. He stresses that they are (wrongly) convinced that their strident, extreme positions are held by "most voters" (I have seen those on the left with a similar mindset). One of the more interesting points raised is that Beck and others are in it for commercial profit (greed), including analyses of how viewers are deliberately ripped off (peddled gold at 30% over value as "Doomsday is right ...more
Alex
A book full of fascinating information, interviews, and smart investigative journalism nearly done in by the author's obnoxious style and voice. When conservatives talk about arrogant, elitist, patronizing east coast intellectuals, Will Bunch is who they're referring to. His closing-chapter plea against "elitist condescension" is nearly paralyzing in the cognitive dissonance it evokes. 4 stars for the content, 1 star for the style.
Wanda
I am not sure that this book was altogether informative or worthwhile reading. It is an account of what the far right thinks and the media types that feed that thinking. Again, like other non-fiction books that I have read lately, I felt that this was an essay expanded to make a book. While I like Will Buch (a fellow Philadelphia type) and agree with his politics, I felt that he was somewhat condescending and smacked of elitism. His incessant carping on the "trailer dewellers" as examples of wha ...more
Dina
Really enjoyed reading about how the media feeds into the paranoia of a certain segment of society. I am someone who is on the opposite end of the political spectrum of those covered in The Backlash, but did appreciate the nuanced way Will Bunch dealt with them. They are not faceless Fox drones but real people who have real problems.
Jim
Bunch does a good job looking into the Tea Party movement-from old-time right-wingers who go back to the John Birch Society to today's anti-immigrant racists who fear 'the Other" in their midst. Along the way, he runs into people who fear that their guns will be confiscated or that FEMA is setting up concentration camps... a strange, bizarre world that many Americans exist in. Basically, he finds that these are people who are older white people, many self-employed or underemployed or retired, wh ...more
Jenny
Considering how much I've lived under a political rock for the last 4 years, this was a really informative and insightful look into the growth of the radical right & tea party which has always sort of puzzled me. I feel as if I understand a lot more about the political right, though I am wary about how much liberal bias was evident in this book. The use of second person was somewhat jarring and I don't think it was a good choice--should have stuck to first person, I think. Regardless, still ...more
Wendy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elaine Nelson
One of the few nonfiction ebooks at the library that sounded interesting and was also available for checkout. I'm a little torn: some of it was LOLTEAPARTY, but then the last chapter argued that mocking them was a bad idea. And personally, quite a bit was familiar from the last year or two. I will admit that I find it utterly horrifying that Glenn Beck has a book called The Overton Window. (I find him horrifying in general, though.) The second-person POV ("you") was sometimes cloying, but done r ...more
Katie
This book points out how various groups of paranoid and fearful Americans have converged into the Tea Party movement. I found it somewhat interesting but also depressing. In my opinion, it all comes down to greed. There are folks who can make money off of the vulnerable and have no qualms about telling lies in order to feed the bottom line. Sadly there is no resolution in the end. Bunch does a so-so job of staying neutral, but he admits to being progressive and that is evident in his tone.
Connie
An excellent book that examines and explains the genesis of the tea party movement as well as the new-found love fest between such Republican big shots and the tea party candidates.

Mr. Bunch spent a considerable amount of time in the presence of tea party adherents in an effort to give them a fair voice, which he does ably.

This book is highly recommended for readers on all sides of the political divide.
B
I found the use of "you" when Bunch is describing his own activities as a journalist to be quite annoying. Bunch does offer some justification for his use of a second person voice. Unfortunately, this comes at the end of the book in the acknowledgments. Had this been explained at the beginning of the book, perhaps it would have been a little bit less jarring. Overall, I think it detracts from the book.
Batmensch
It's basically an analysis of the lives and motivations of several regular people who are on the right end of the spectrum and who have been involved in the Tea Party movement, plus a fair bit about the involvement and public metamorphosis of Glenn Beck. It certainly tries to get into the heads of the people involved, and has some sympathy with their straits, without being too sentimental about it.
Rebecca
I LOVED this book. Crazy rednecks, paranoid rightwing television personalities, and the politicians who listen to them, how can you go wrong? The only criticism I have is Bunch's ending. Having compassion for conspiracy theorists gone bad is not the route I would take. I propose an Orwellian brainwashing until they all become liberals and we can gather in a circle and sing "We are the World."
Betty
Informative effort to understand the motives and perspectives of the "everyday" people who support the Tea Party. The author presents a rather familiar analysis but the stories of individuals and their personal goals and fears offer a more concrete picture of who embraces this party and why.
John Jenkins
An interesting look into the roots and the growth of the current political force of the day. It does help in understanding just what is driving the tea party and how it is being led and used.
David
I just couldn't get in to this one, and have to many other things on my reading list to spend more time with it. The subject was interesting, but the writing style was strange.
Kristin
Interesting context in light of Arizona shootings in January. But the writing isn't sourced very well, and there's not much that's actually new here.
Dirk
Not as well written as The Family or as indispensable as Nixonland but for anyone looking for insight into the American Right, this is a must-read.
Gene
Pretty good book. Bunch puts faces behind the Tea Party movement, and exposes Glenn Beck as a giant huckster.
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“The seeming power of a unified minority in Washington with just enough votes to thwart Obama was also a source of strength and, arguably, arrogance and self-importance. Even after Brown's election, the Democrats held 59 percent of the U.S. Senate, 59 percent of the House of Representatives, and 100 percent of the White House. But the GOP's forty-one Senate votes—representing, it must be noted, no more than 37 percent of the American public (thanks to Republican popularity in smaller states)—seemed paramount, because it offered just enough votes to kill any piece of legislation through the delaying tactic known as the filibuster. These representatives of 37 percent of the country wielded unprecedented powers because of something the likes of which this nation had never seen before: their ability to stick together on every single issue with the sole purpose of obstructing Barack Obama and his Democratic allies. It was an 'I Hope He Fails' strategy hatched in the ratings-driven studios of talk radio, but now rigid legislative fealty to the on-air musings of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck had ground Washington to a total halt.” 0 likes
“Ironically, this *was* a kind of apocalypse—not the one that Tea Parties and their allies like Paul Broun had been warning about, but a different kind, a complete breakdown of Washington's ability to get anything done, even staring in the face of serious problems that required complex solutions, and some eventual compromise.” 0 likes
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