The National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestseller that became a guide and balm for a country struggling to understand the election of Donald Trump
"A generous but disconcerting look at the Tea Party. . . . This is a smart, respectful and compelling book." — Jason DeParle, The New York Times Book Review
When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, a bewildered nation turned to Strangers in Their Own Land to understand what Trump voters were thinking when they cast their ballots. Arlie Hochschild, one of the most influential sociologists of her generation, had spent the preceding five years immersed in the community around Lake Charles, Louisiana, a Tea Party stronghold. As Jedediah Purdy put it in the New Republic , “Hochschild is fascinated by how people make sense of their lives. . . . [Her] attentive, detailed portraits . . . reveal a gulf between Hochchild’s ‘strangers in their own land’ and a new elite.” Already a favorite common read book in communities and on campuses across the country and called “humble and important” by David Brooks and “masterly” by Atul Gawande, Hochschild’s book has been lauded by Noam Chomsky, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, and countless others.
The paperback edition features a new afterword by the author reflecting on the election of Donald Trump and the other events that have unfolded both in Louisiana and around the country since the hardcover edition was published, and also includes a readers’ group guide at the back of the book.
|Publisher:||New Press, The|
|Edition description:||First Trade Paper Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Arlie Russell Hochschild is one of the most influential sociologists of her generation. She is the author of nine books, including The Second Shift , The Time Bind , The Managed Heart , and The Outsourced Self. Three of her books have been named as New York Times Notable Books of the Year and her work appears in sixteen languages. The winner of the Ulysses Medal as well as Guggenheim and Mellon grants, she lives in Berkeley, California.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Great Paradox
1 Traveling to the Heart 3
2 "One Thing Good" 25
3 The Rememberers 39
4 The Candidates 55
5 The "Least Resistant Personality" 73
Part 2 The Social Terrain
6 Industry: "The Buckle in America's Energy Belt" 85
7 The State: Governing the Market 4,000 Feet Below 99
8 The Pulpit and the Press: "The Topic Doesn't Come Up" 117
Part 3 The Deep Story And The People In It
9 The Deep Story 135
10 The Team Player: Loyalty Above All 153
11 The Worshipper: Invisible Renunciation 169
12 The Cowboy: Stoicism 181
13 The Rebel: A Team Loyalist with a New Cause 193
Part 4 Going National
14 The Fires of History: The 1860s and the 1960s 207
15 Strangers No Longer: The Power of Promise 221
16 "They Say There Are Beautiful Trees" 231
Appendix A The Research 273
Appendix B Politics and Pollution: National Discoveries from ToxMap 277
Appendix C Tact-Checking Common Impressions 281
Reading Group Guide 385
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I usually don't leave reviews, but this book is a must read. The author takes you through the underlying systems and beliefs that have contributed to the current state of our nation.
Author is a discciplined social scientist who makes a sserious atempt to understand the conservative mind
Phew! I'm thrilled to be finished with this one. Not that it's not good. It's well-done, readable non-fiction that's story based. But I felt uncomfortable the entire time I was reading. The author is a sociologist from Berkeley, CA -- she's a blue state liberal who wanted to try to understand the thinking of people in red states, many of whom support Donald Trump. And I think Hochschild does a good job of humanizing this group of the American populous whose collective voice seems to be on the ascendant. These are loving mates and devoted parents. They go to church and work hard. They're friendly and supportive of neighbors. As a blue state person myself, what made me so uncomfortable was NOT that the interviewees Hochschild profiles in the book can be dismissed as uneducated or stupid. They can't. It's that their thinking is so WILDLY different from my own, in so many areas. And those differences are so profound that I found myself getting increasingly demoralized about the prospect of these two sides ever reaching a meeting point. Hochschild shows how the individuals profiled feel left out of the American dream. And it is true they HAVE lost a lot of ground during the last couple of generations. Particularly those who are high-school educated, white and male. Many traditional, decent-paying jobs have moved overseas. Technology has revolutionized the workplace so that others jobs are now automated. Income is stagnant. And instead of sitting at the top of a world built on white privilege, this is a group that must now compete for employment against women and minorities. (Not so 50 years ago.) They are also tired of being told to be politically correct and they are just plain angry at those they see passing them on the ladder of success. I do now understand how these people are drawn to what I see as Trump's anger, vitriol, racism, and promises to "make America great again." (This actually seems to mean return America to the way life was in the 1950s -- few women in the workplace, little competition from minorities, and plenty of jobs for unskilled or marginally skilled workers). All the interviewees are from Louisiana, home of the so-called "cancer corridor", reflecting the large number of cancers reported in certain areas of the state. Also where many large chemical companies (Dow, Monsanto) and oil and gas companies run huge facilities. But instead of holding companies responsible for associated pollution (and its potential health threats), these folks blame a bloated government with too many regulations. And they don't understand why government should be helping out those with no health insurance (Obamacare) or no income (welfare) or immigrants seeking asylum. Not when too many "regular" Americans are struggling. They believe THESE are the folks whose welfare should be prioritized. Which, honestly, strikes me as a fair argument. Hochschild points out the great paradox. While believing in smaller government and NOT believing in government hand-outs -- about 50% of Louisiana's yearly budget comes from federal funds. It's a culture that doesn't value advanced education. That accepts pollution as an acceptable by-product of industries that provide jobs and manufacture the consumables we all demand. And then there's that widespread belief that the United States should essentially be a Christian country, guided by the teachings of the Bible. By the end, I felt like a stranger in YOUR own land.
Now we know where Shirley Jackson found inspiration in American society to write The Lottery. As nice as these people might be, there doesn’t seem to be a way to get past their fact universe to persuade them that there might be a different way. You simply have to outvote them and then through sustained policies that liberals could enact, improve their lives too. I wish their lots in lives could improve soon. But doubling down on the Lottery Society is not going to work. It would be interesting to further develop the contrast made late in the book between Louisiana and Norway, two oil states with similar size landmass and population, but which have completely different societal results. Along with Norway’s wealth and optimism versus Louisiana’s poverty and pessimism, one other obvious contrast is the racial make up: Norway is ~94% white European with probably less than 3% black or brown, while Louisiana is only 65% white and almost 33% black. European societies like Norway are usually disparaged and dismissed by the American right as “Socialism.” In this context, socialism means giving white people’s money to others. If Louisiana was a white as Norway, we might find it looks a lot more like Norway. On the other hand, as we have been seeing from the newly rising European right wing parties, if Norway was as white as Louisiana, we might find that it looks a lot more like Louisiana. Ms. Hochshild makes a lot out of her model of people standing in line while others cut in line, which all of her Lake Charles friends seemed to identify with. It might indeed be a suitable model for those people given their perspective on the world. I think this model translates well beyond Lake Charles, even to here in Upstate, NY. It would have been interesting though if she could have developed it further with them by getting their views on a number of subsequent questions, like: 1. Who set the line arrangements in the first place which had them already in front of some of those they viewed as line cutters? 2. What did you do to deserve your place in the line? 3. Who said that there should only be one line? 4. Who says that you need to stand in the Lake Charles line? You are not going to persuade these people. You could at best billboard the mis-understandings summarized in Appendix C, throughout Red America, so that they could at least see the reality that Fox News keeps hidden from them. Then you need to out vote them.