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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

on April 25, 2017
This book is very timely in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Hochschild, a liberal from Berkley, spends time with conservatives and Tea Party members in Louisiana in an attempt to understand how people living in one of the most economically depressed and polluted states can still justify voting for the conservative candidates that they support. The answer isn't always clear, and you get the sense that Hochschild struggles, with many of the people she interviews, to really understand fully where they're coming from, or why they prioritize certain things over others. The book does illuminate for liberal readers some of the motivations of southern conservatives tied to their political choices that democrats often have trouble understanding - many of the interviewees are grounded in church, family, family histories of hard work and struggle and the value of individual freedom. Interestingly, many of her subjects who support candidates who either deny climate change or don't want to do much about it are actually concerned about the environment - it's just not their top priority when selecting candidates to vote for.

One of the most poignant analogies Hochschild draws on repeatedly is that of the "line"; that the southerners she interviews, white, middle aged, often men, find that they are waiting patiently in line but other people (outsiders, immigrants, women, etc.) are pushing ahead or being given priority. Even though the reader may not agree with the sentiment, Hochschild makes it easy to understand where these people are coming from and how painful it is for them to feel this way. In this way, Hochschild helps the reader to feel empathy for people who democrats may not otherwise feel any empathy for.

Obviously the book has limited scope. Hochschild has interviewed people from a specific demographic in a single state. We can't necessarily extrapolate the findings in this book to all Americans who voted for Donald Trump. But many of the people she interviewed probably did vote for him, and this book democrats to realize that they are more complex and yes, more human, and just like us, than we might like to believe when we find our own opinions so at odds with those espoused by the president they have chosen.
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on March 19, 2018
I couldn't put this book down. I was dumbfounded as I read each page. Hochschild tries to to present these people in an empathetic light as she seeks to explain their point of view. I'm an elitist liberal and I was seeking to understand why poor Republicans support Billionaire tax cuts and elimination of environmental checks on Corporations who dump their sludge in their backyard. The answers I found left me fearing for the future of the United States in that these Tea Party types seem to really misunderstand so much of their anger comes from misunderstanding and yet they are really politically driven. One thing Hochschild does is compare outcomes between two oil rich areas of the world Norway and Louisiana. To my Liberal sensibilities Norway's spreading of the wealth between all citizens seems far superior to a world where everyone except the Rich and Corporations are left to fend for themselves. Its apparent the Republican party counts on a curtain amount of ignorance among their voters when these people seem to hate the Federal Government though plainly don't really understand it in any realistic way. Meanwhile the rich get richer. Such is the way of the world. Makes me very thank full I got mine and a good life in a clean Liberal part of the world.
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on November 6, 2016
Hochschild scales the "empathy wall" that divides America today and in the process she arrives at a meeting place of understanding if not agreement with the Louisiana Tea Party supporters she encounters. This is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand why the United States is so deeply and dangerously divided. Hochschild doesn't set out to demonize. Instead she sets out to understand and discovers the "deep story" behind the lives of one of the most polluted and maligned state in the Union.
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on February 9, 2017
Excellent glimpse into the mindset, experiences, poverty, corporate betrayals and hopes for the future of a group of citizens in Louisiana. I was looking for a perspective that would help me understand the support for the political "outsider" who has become the President. I don't agree with every opinion in the book but I have great respect for the author's efforts to truly understand all the assorted opinions. Could be read as a companion text to Hillbilly Elegy.
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on November 21, 2016
Tries valiantly (and I think well) to explain the insane thinking in parts of America that wound up putting a Trump in the White House.
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on August 17, 2017
Well written, thought provoking - great read!
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on November 30, 2016
Great book. Anyone wanting understand the last US election should read it, it may helps liberals reflect on their own failings.
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on October 17, 2016
Easily the most important and insightful book about politics I've read in a long time. If you're wondering how anyone could possibly vote for Donald Trump, read this book. Arlie Russell Hochschild breaches the "empathy wall" between Tea Party supporters and the "liberals" whose "feeling rules" have alienated some Americans who desperately need help themselves. Her insights into the "deep story" of Tea Party supporters in Louisiana could be a first step toward healing American society after November 8. Beautifully written, meticulously researched, and gripping. This may be the only book ever written by a sociologist whose ending can bring tears to the eyes with its sheer poetry and generosity of spirit. This book probably won't change anyone's vote, and it isn't intended to do so. But it reminded me how powerful a force imaginative sympathy can be. An exceptional achievement.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 23, 2017
Ms. Russell wants to break down the empathy wall that divides the liberal American from the conservative, those who support the Democrat Party and those who support the Tea Party and the Republicans. As she exists in the world of liberals, fake news and experts, her goal was to immerse herself in the other world by spending time in the American deep south of Louisiana. What she discovers may be interesting and perhaps, even profound, but I failed to understand how breaks down the empathy wall.
She talks to a man whose property has been contaminated and rendered worthless by industrial waste left by the oil refineries. He’s remained in his home because he wants to protect his property and those of his neighbours. An interesting decision on its own but his thinking becomes even more complexing with his active support for the local Tea Party candidate who supports further environmental deregulation. Ms. Russell’s conversations with the man show a deep desire to understand his behaviour which caused me to empathize with his situation however his continued support of the Tea Party I still believe to reflect a profound ignorance of politics and the guides of government policies that will provide assistance for him and his neighbours.
Many of the people she spoke to believe in the Rapture and so they have a greater tendency of voting for someone who reflects their religious beliefs rather than someone who might represent their interests in the here and now.
As well, they believe strongly in their idea of an independent spirit, one that doesn’t suck from the teat of government. Yet, Louisiana and many other red states depend heavily on the federal government to subsidize their programs.
So, by the end of the book, I did not empathize with these people. I can’t even pretend to. Willful ignorance is difficult to understand. On the other hand, reading the book has definitely made more sympathetic to their plight, one that I believe, they may still learn from.
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on April 1, 2018
I have not read this book but definitely intend to. I have given it 4 stars because I'm glad it's been written.
One thing I CAN say and DO know, and it is this:
As long as FOX News continues to broadcast half-truths, lies , propaganda and divisiveness and as long as those who voted for Trump ( AND the president himself! ) continue to use it as their only source of information, their can be no rapprochement.
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