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Wingnuts: Extremism in the Age of Obama

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  392 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Wingnuts exist on the extreme edges of the political spectrum. They're the professional polarizers and the unhinged activists, the hardcore haters and the paranoid conspiracy theorists. They're people who always try to divide us instead of unite us. And at a time when the fringe is blurring with the base, they've hijacked American politics.

The Obama era has been a boom-tim
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published August 12th 2014 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!
Dec 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Malcolm Pellettier
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Mr. Avlon needs a re-think. There is no moral equivalence bn the left and the right. sorry.
John Birchers have taken over the Republican party so they're aim is some Ayn Rand cum theo-fascist dystopia. The lefty equivalent would be 19th century anarchists taking over the dems. period.

Moreover, mr. Avlon singularly fails to take into account the MASSIVE astro-turf nature of right-side insanity. Take away the money and the infrastrucure and the tea party is just a bunch of lonely basement bombshelt
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading the book nine years later, a lot of things are more diluted and seemingly harmless, in retrospect. Scary how many crazy people have such a voice, though.
I liked the Jonathan Swift (attributed) quote: "You cannot reason a man out of what he never reasoned himself into. "
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
The first edition of this book was published in 2010, then updated in 2014. At the last update, Donald Trump wasn't even on the radar of most political observers. He is mentioned just once in this edition, as a prominent spokesman for the Birther movement. But Trump is all over is this book in spririt and, if it proves anything, it proves that Trump is more of a symptom of what ails the American political scene than the leader of any new "movement."

Avlon, a writer and editor for The Daily Beast,
Jun 01, 2010 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
Blog on Books
Jul 26, 2010 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
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Michael Laflamme
Sep 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Fresh air at last!

Finally, an author who truly understands the nature of the wings of U. S. opinion. A balanced, well-reasoned, analysis. Deep enough for a close rereading.
Connie Glasgow
So glad to be done - now I know why politics are not my favorite. YUCK!
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While I don't personally think it helpful to derrogatorily label those one disagrees with, even if they are on both side's political extremes, I do appreciate this author's call to independence from the extremes-a coming together to move forward instead of standing across the ever-widening divide and passionately throwing stones.

I am one who has felt pushed into being a conservative-leaning independent, by the extremes of the Republican Party to which I previously belonged. The author of this bo
Ra Fe
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book in light of the polarization of politics that exists today. If one is a moderate/centrist, it is relatively easy to get caught up in how freaky and "wingnutty" the ends of the political spectrum are and what people actually believe (Qanon, 3%ers, antifa, etc) when in fact the book does a great service in illuminating the fact that these fringes have existed since the beginning of our countries history. That doesn't downplay how wackadoodle these fringes are, but it does allow pe ...more
Budd Margolis
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Relevant now as very recent history, but still applicable, of course. I'm not the best at politics, so I had hoped that this would be written in such a way as to really capture my attention. I don't know if that's even possible for a political book. I did a fair amount of skimming. ...more
Michael T.
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
Matthew Willis
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not too bad. Honestly it was very informing. a couple things tho. He shares the information without an opinion like a real journalist. His actual opionon comes out in the last chapter quoting someone else's opinion. "The alternative domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism." - George Washington ...more
Jun 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Defrog
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
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
Nov 29, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2016 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
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
Nov 13, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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

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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.” 5 likes
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