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What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America Paperback – Apr 14 2005
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“The best political book of the year.” ―Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
“Frank is a formidable controversialist-imagine Michael Moore with a trained brain and an intellectual conscience.” ―George F. Will, The Washington Post
“Brilliant.” ―Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times
“Mr. Frank re-injects economic-class issues into the debate with sardonic vehemence.” ―Jerome Weeks, The Dallas Morning News
“A searing piece of work . . . one of the most important political writings in years.” ―The Boston Globe
“Dazzlingly insightful and wonderfully sardonic . . . Frank has made much sense of the world in this book.” ―Chicago Tribune
“Impassioned, compelling . . . Frank's books mark him as one of the most insightful thinkers of the twenty-first century, four years into it.” ―Houston Chronicle
“Very funny and very painful . . . Add another literary gold star after Thomas Frank's name.” ―San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Thomas Frank is the author of Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, What's the Matter with Kansas?, and One Market Under God. A former opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper's. He lives outside Washington, D.C.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
They make an astonishing concession: they grant Tom Frank's main point. He argues that the Republicans have nothing to offer working people on ECONOMIC TERMS. The conservatives don't seem to disagree. They only argue that the Republicans are worth voting for on cultural terms alone, and seek to demonstrate that this is a legitimate way to vote.
This is new. Conservatives used to argue that they had the most to offer ordinary Americans ECONOMICALLY--and ALSO culturally. Now, on economics, they've simply given up. They've tacitly admitted that, for lower income folks at least, cultural conservatism is the party's sole appeal. A sad day for conservatism, and certainly evidence of its political decline.
And of course none of the conservative reviews can deal with the fact that the cultural battles the Republicans choose are bottomless unwinnable sinkholes. That's why I describe conservatives as having punk'd a nation: they offer their voters nothing in return but therapy.
However, as the author points out, it was precisely the slippage of that ideal that spurred the populist movement of the 1890s in Kansas and throughout the South and West. A largely farming population saw the power of large business interests to control prices and to influence the federal government to maintain hard currency policies as destructive of a way of life as independent produces. They advocated for substantial governmental intervention in the economy to combat this loss of freedom. As the author notes, it was a movement of "producers versus parasites.Read more ›
Never mind the fact that many people -- of all political stripes -- vote for reasons other than pure economic self-interest. But even the economic reality of Kansas is distorted. For example, an earlier reviewer from IL implies Kansas is poor, but Illinois had a 6.4 percent unemployment rate in May; Kansas' was 4.7, almost a point lower than the national rate. Median household income in Kansas is at the national average (2001-2002), while the cost of living is moderate-to-low, depending on exact location, and it costs less to send your kids to college in Kansas than in all but four states -- and they are more likely to graduate than the national average. Only 9 states have a smaller percentage of households living in poverty. We have our problems, but how is that not a pretty good outcome for Kansas -- and particularly the working class that Frank addresses?
Same with this book. He seems more upset that his fellow Kansasians (?)march to a different drummer, or are more patriotic and actually believe in a God and attend worship services. He completely ignores the fact Kansas has some well respected universities and that the standard of living and quality of life is far superior to the élitist areas he prefers.
I am a proud Californian whose family has been here since the 1860's so I am not reading What's the Matter with Kansas as a disgruntled Kansasian but as someone who has traveled the United States enough and love the mid west and its values which are a lot like here in the Mother Lode of California where American flags fly from home porches, where prayer before meals is a habit, and where proud to be an American comes easily off ones tongue. And he admits in interviews that "Kansas" is a metaphor for the U.S.A. He has noted that today Kansas is the sort of place where the angry, suspicious world view typified by Fox News or the books of Ann Coulter is a common part of everyday life. Seems he is mad that what he sells isn't being bought.
He also seems bent out of shape that the folks of Kansas (and in my opinion anyone who isn't of his ilk) don't consider FDR a God, and perhaps value eating dinner together, marriages that last, hot dogs, baseball and Moms apple pie.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This was the first book that I have ever thrown in the garbage before I finished reading it. I struggled to read it, and by the time I was 75% of the way to the end, I could not... Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2013 by John Wonnacott
Frank's "Kansas" is a frightening but illuminating account of how radical Republicans have consolidated their agenda in that state. Read morePublished on Dec 24 2011 by ogilvie
Good book. The only thing I've read that impressed me more was The System by Roy Valentine. I got it here at amazon. You have to read this book.Published on Oct. 2 2004
Yes, but in time-honored pop-Marx fasion, Frank considers all non-economic moral concerns as mere epiphenomena riding lightly atop bedrock economic realities. Read morePublished on July 19 2004 by Gene Brass
Most reviewers of political books seem to forget to review the book outside of their own politics. It seems ridiculous that all of you are either bashing the writer for his... Read morePublished on July 19 2004
Yes, but in time-honored pop-Marx fasion, Frank considers all non-economic moral concerns as mere epiphenomena riding lightly utop bedrock economic realities. Read morePublished on July 19 2004 by Gene Brass
It's amazing how many of the negative reviews posted here evidence exactly the kind of false populism Frank is writing against. Read morePublished on July 19 2004
I'm an independant Kansan. Middle of the road. People in the heartland don't appreciate a 'poll watcher' politician. They want someone who will stick to what they believe. Read morePublished on July 18 2004
First off, I ask readers who claim genuine objectivity to check out the excellent review of this book in National Review's June 28, 2004 edition (p48). Read morePublished on July 18 2004 by MyLibido
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