lp's Reviews > Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War

Deer Hunting with Jesus by Joe Bageant
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Jan 26, 2009

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Read in February, 2009

I obviously only picked up this book because I thought it would be about deer hunting and Jesus, two of my favorite subjects. (I was in an enormous rush at the bookstore -- it was closing and the lady was practically dragging me out by my arm and I had to choose something, or else I would be book-less, which would send me into panic.)

Had I spent two more seconds reading the large text immediately below the title, I would have seen in rather large letters "Dispatches from America's Class War." Okay, so it's not really about Jesus. Fool me once, shame on me. I though it sounded interesting, anyway, and it was. I felt that Bageant brought us to the world of the white working class (which, by the way, I was surprised to find out I didn't really technically understand what "working class" actually means) with a unique perspective -- although it seemed sometimes he was talking down about them, he really wasn't. This is his hometown, the people are not un-relatable specimen in a science experiment, they are his family and friends and in some ways himself, and he is honest in dealing about what they care about, what they do, what they fear, and what their lives are like.

My family is from a poor, steel town in Western Pennsylvania, and I am glad that I got to spend a lot of time there as a kid, because after growing up in a pretty snooty town in Ohio and then moving to New York City, I think it's important to see that this is not how most people live. That if you are educated, actually have enough money for food, medicine, gas, etc., insured, working for more than $9 / hour (I could go on), you are lucky, and not like the people in Winchester, VA. A lot of my friends haven't the slightest clue about what it's like to live in a place like Winchester or Sharon. Like me, and the "liberal elite," they are, as Bageant describes:

"living the American Dream in relative economic safety. Yet they don't think of themselves as elitists. Overwhelmingly white and college educated, they live among clones of themselves. As far as they know, American life is about money, education, homeownership, and professionally useful friends. How can one blame them? Conditioning is everything and how could they fail to believe their own experience or what they see every day, all of which suggests that their privileges are natural and deserved? "

I am guilty of this as well. And that's why it's good that I read this book. When I read the above paragraph, which appears toward the beginning, I still wasn't sure I was going to stick with the book. (I mean where was Jesus?! Where was the deer hunting?!) But I read that paragraph and thought, wow that would be pretty ironic if I got to the part about how the liberal elite have no idea wtf is going on and I am being handed an opportunity to see wtf is going on and instead I put down the book and go, 'eh, I care, but not THAT MUCH.'

Know what I mean?
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather Simons I know what you mean. You're great.


David Sarkies It wasn't until I read this book that I realised that I was one of those liberals that look down on the working poor (not that they exist in Australia to the same extent as they do in the United States).


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