Joe Bageant’s essays in book form

By Ken Smith

The book I edited of Joe Bageant's essays was released six weeks ago in Australia, but today I was finally able to see and hold a copy. The first mailing of the book apparently is stuck in Mexican customs. The book is Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant. I'm listed as the author, but that's not accurate. I'm the editor. I wrote an introduction and bio, but 95% of the book is Joe Bageant.

It is published and distributed by Scribe/Penguin. Unfortunately, it is now only available in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There is no commitment yet for publication and distribution in the US, UK and Canada, but that will likely happen in mid-2012. Here is Penguin's page for the book:

This collection of Joe's essays is also available as an e-book on Apple's iTunes-Australia. And, an e-book version is also available on Amazon's sites in France, Germany and Italy.

Waltzing is a collection of 25 of Joe's online essays. I did some editing and a bit rewriting for the international market. Before he died last March, Joe and I had talked about such a book, even though he initially had doubts that people would pay for something that's available for free on the web. But, many emails from his readers convinced him that there are sufficient number of people who prefer the feel of a real book rather than reading on a computer screen.

I've managed Joe's website since its launch eight years ago. Way back then, Joe had come to visit me in Nice, France. He had started sending his essays to various online opinion sites, such as Counterpunch, SmirkingChimp and AlterNet. I convinced him that he need his own website, if nothing else to serve as an archive for his work.

Joe spent the last two years of his life living in a small studio apartment in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico — just a few blocks from where I live. While in Ajijic, Joe wrote his second book, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir, banging away on a god-awful small netbook with his two-finger typing.

I am anticipating questions from readers: "How could you possibly have left out my favorite essay?" Well, I had to cut 50 essays to get under the 80,000 word limit. Two of my favorites by Joe didn't make it. If the book sells well enough, maybe there will be another volume.

I'm promoting his books for a couple of reasons. First, Joe's writing demonstrates what an expat can accomplish while living cheaply in a foreign country. Second, I want as many people as possible to read what Joe had to say. You may not entirely agree with him, but Joe will make you think.

Joe's first book was Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War, published by Random House/Crown.

Any proceeds from sales of Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball of essays will go to Joe's favorite charities.

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