By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War
By Joe Bageant (Scribe, $24.95, softcover, 272 pages)
Sharing “blood and ancestral links to Australia” is one likely reason that Joe Bageant feels an affinity with the ‘lucky country’.
There are other explanations too. In the preface to the first Australian edition, Bageant says “many Australian readers display the same rowdy, open spirit and the often wry understanding of politics, and most of all the same sense of humor as Americans”.
While the events are true, this perceptive book about America also uncovers a world that’s both unlikeable and an illusion.
Deer Hunting with Jesus is a splendid blend of political commentary and some storytelling from the author and journalist who was a former working-class resident of Winchester, Virginia. On his return, he finds that his hometown has actually relapsed, not moving forward to share in the so-called shared prosperity of America.
Jobs are hard to come by and whatever is available is risky and offers low income. Despite the economic downturn, the wealthy use their positions to manipulate local government to ensure their privileged positions remain and the health care system is in disarray.
You will get an understanding of why poor Americans ‘earning $9 an hour, no health insurance and no job security, are fiercely patriotic, hate unions and proudly vote Republican’.
Bageant says that the greatest enemy of working-class Americans is ignorance and delivers a dose of redneck reality about close-mindedness and mistrust. Class enslaves the mind … this is not the first time it’s been said, but it has been said well – and in the ‘land of the free’.
Taking turns in being wicked, gentle, inflammable and earnestly comical, Deer Hunting with Jesus is an excellent, eye-opening look at America that will challenge you to look at your own beliefs in what makes America great.
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.