Publisher’s press release on Joe’s book

Crown Publishing, a division of Random House

A fascinating look at why small town America
is on the brink of catastrophe

Dispatches from America’s Class War

By Joe Bageant

"Bageant mixes a reporter’s keen analysis, a storyteller’s color, and a
native son’s love of his roots in this absorbing dissection of
America’s poor. A wise, tender, and acerbic look at life among
America’s working poor."

"Enough fine Southern-style storytelling for ten volumes is distilled into this fantastically readable explanation of why working-class America has given up on liberalism. Bageant writes with the ghosts of Hunter S. Thompson, Will Rogers, and Frank Zappa kibitzing over his shoulder." Mother Jones

"Blunt and revealing. When it comes to the Christian evangelists’ push for theocracy in place of democracy, be very afraid." Kirkus Reviews

"Bageant evokes working class America like no one else. The account of his revisit to his Virginia roots is sobering, poignant, and instructive." Howard Zinn

Joe Bageant says America is not a middle class nation, but rather "a working class nation, the foundation of which is that three quarters of Americans who do not go to college — the NASCAR loving, church-going, gun-owning America who have never set foot in a Starbucks." Is this a good thing for America? Bageant’s fascinating and at times brutally funny new commentary on the perilous nature of small town America, DEER HUNTING WITH JESUS: Dispatches from America’s Class War (Crown Publishers, June 19, 2007), is a ride through the “praise temples, tract homes, and taverns of the working class” of Bageant’s hometown of Winchester, Virginia—a microcosm of working-class life nationwide.

In the tradition of Thomas Frank’s, What’s the Matter with Kansas?, DEER HUNTING WITH JESUS is ultimately an examination of how small town America is on the brink of catastrophe and fast becoming a permanent underclass in our society. Bageant argues for the importance and need to study the breakdown of this culture that, unknown to many, is having a large impact on America politically and economically.

As Joe interviews his friends and neighbors in Winchester, we come to understand why small town residents see things the way they do. For example, many residents have no health care, little to no college education, barely scrape by on a low wage, and still vote Republican. Bageant himself grew up "dirt poor" in the same town where his father was a mechanic and truck driver and his mother worked in a textile mill. After a stint in the Navy, he was the first in his family to attend college, and slowly but surely he had a family, drifted into the middle class, and moved away from Winchester. In recent years, though, he moved back to his hometown, and this book uses Winchester as a window into some of the most intractable social and political issues confronting America today.

Incidentally, the area surrounding Winchester is where Lynndie England came from. Bageant offers some ideas about why her upbringing there may have contributed to the Abu Ghraib atrocities. Bageant is also our companion as we visit and talk with other small town locals, including Pootie (a regular at Burt’s Tavern — Winchester’s local bar) who wears a t-shirt that reads "One million battered women in this country and I’ve been eating mine plain," or the loading docks at Rubbermaid, where we meet Tom Henderson — a true Southern working man who "takes Jim Beam and the Republican party straight up."

DEER HUNTING WITH JESUS is a potent mixture of storytelling, memoir, political commentary, and a call to arms for progressives. As Bageant says himself, "This book is one part cultural anthropology and one part splash of cold water into the face of those liberals wondering why their working class brothers and sisters seem to have turned against them." This is a poignant and crucial look at small town life today and how it’s affecting America.



Joe Bageant writes a popular online column ( that has made him a cult hero among gonzo-journalism junkies and progressives. He recently worked as a senior editor for the Primedia History Group. Born in Winchester, Virginia, after school he served in the U.S. Navy and then lived in California and Colorado before returning to Winchester thirty years later to document what you read in, Deer Hunting with Jesus.

Bageant and his wife recently downsized their lives in America so that Joe could spend half the year in Belize, where he writes and sponsors a small development project with the Black Carib families of Hopkins Village.

Dispatches from America’s Class War

By Joe Bageant

Published by Crown Publishers
On sale: June 19, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-307-33936-2 * Price: $25.00 hardcover * Pages: 288

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