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I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) Hardcover – Jul 9 2013

3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (July 9 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439184496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439184493
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Highly entertaining." (Parade)

"Intellectually vigorous and entertaining." (Publishers Weekly)

“That most of his subjects are from the pop-culture realm, whether Andrew Dice Clay or Chevy Chase or the Eagles, does not diminish the underlying sophistication of Klosterman’s guiding questions…. A fine return to form for Klosterman, blending Big Ideas with heavy metal, The Wire, Batman and much more.” (Kirkus)

“Very much a product of his generation and as plugged into the popular culture as Mencken was antagonistic to it, Klosterman is in that same direct line of cultural critics as Bierce, Mencken, and more recently, P. J. O’Rourke, and his posture is similarly arch and iconoclastic…[I Wear the Black Hat] will amuse and/or outrage but, either way, it should enlarge his audience.” (Booklist)

"Astute and funny." (USA Today)

"Highly entertaining...a beach classic." (New York Times)

“Klosterman offers up great facts, interesting cultural insights, and thought-provoking moral calculations in this look at our love affair with the anti-hero.” (New York Magazine)

"Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and imaginative hypotheticals, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the antihero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is a rare example of serious criticism that’s instantly accessible and really, really funny." (DC Spotlight)

"Klosterman has a knack for holding up a magical high-def mirror to American pop culture that makes all of our vanities and delusions look painfully obvious. Spend enough time reading I Wear the Black Hat, and you might even start to recognize, in its pages, your own silly assumptions, your snap judgments, your stubborn loyalties and your badly rationalized prejudices….By underscoring the contradictory, often knee-jerk ways we encounter the heroes and villains of our culture, Klosterman illustrates the passionate but incomplete computations that have come to define American culture — and maybe even American morality." (Los Angeles Times)

"Klosterman's prose exhibits the same firecrack fizz and pop, and his endearing/unnerving polemical habits remain in place." (Time Out New York)

"A gleeful and often funny explanation of villainy, both fictional and real." (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)

"Klosterman considers how inconsistent, unpredictable and surprisingly elastic the concept of villainy has been in American culture since the 1970s....the entertainment value of his thought processes and the quality of his prose are high." (USA Today)

“With the aplomb of a modern Machiavelli surveying our ever shifting moral landscape for examples that prove his point, Mr. Klosterman takes the reader on a grand tour of villainy's outposts in popular culture, sports, politics and American history. "I Wear the Black Hat" is an erudite, provocative and playful survey of the ever shifting face of villainy in the American experience.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

"Klosterman attacks his subjects with intellectual rigor and humor... you should read this thought-provoking book." (Washington Post)

“[Klosterman’s] best work since Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs….If you’ve ever sympathized with Darth Vader, second-guessed Muhammad Ali or wondered how Bill Clinton got away with what he got away with, you’re not alone. Read I Wear the Black Hat and see for yourself.” (Las Vegas Weekly)

About the Author

Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times bestselling author of seven previous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur; Killing Yourself to Live; and The Visible Man. His debut book, Fargo Rock City, was the winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He has written for GQ, Esquire, Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and The Onion A.V. Club. He currently serves as “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine and writes about sports and popular culture for ESPN.

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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book should really be called This Is Why They Hate You. These words and this thought recur continually throughout. Although it starts out as being about villainy (the Black Hat of the title), it soon shows its true colors – why “we” apparently love to hate celebrities.

Before that unfortunate transition, Klosterman posits some interesting paradigms to chew on, such as “People are remembered for the sum of their accomplishments but defined by their singular failure.” And “The villain is the person who knows the most but cares the least.” That’s an intriguing framework I looked forward to exploring. Silly me.

Klosterman is skintight in his envelope of American pop culture celebrity, mostly sports. You won’t recognize a lot of the people he considers celebrities worth hating, and in 25 years, your children will find this whole book unreadable. They won’t recognize the names he values, and will have no context to make sense of it. He gives the same celebrity/hate “analysis” to politicians, football players, coaches, basketball players, boxers, rockstars, and writers - all males, by the way. If he doesn’t think they care, they’re villains.

He really lost me when he went after Muhammad Ali. Ali was an act with a very short shelf life. To his credit, he understood that well in advance, and plotted a successful strategy. To make it to the top, he had to pull out all the stops; nothing was beneath him psyching out his opponents. He did it and he is lionized for it. But because he racially slandered Joe Frazier, Klosterman casts him as a villain. But lying can be an integral component of a vocation. It’s okay for presidents to lie, but not okay for Ali? Ali verbally pummeled every opponent in sight before they got in the ring with him. He executed brilliantly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
interesting read, but less humour than i was hoping for. definitely interesting, but left me thinking 'what was the point' a bit...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book after being recommended it.

About 20pages in I had to stop reading this book. It just seemed to be about what the author liked or didn't like - when I clearly thought this book would take me on a dark awesome tale, I was really disappointed. This book was simply not for me.
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