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Chris Hedges’s profound and unsettling examination of America in crisis is “an exceedingly…provocative book, certain to arouse controversy, but offering a point of view that needs to be heard” (Booklist), about how bitter hopelessness and malaise have resulted in a culture of sadism and hate.
America, says Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Chris Hedges, is convulsed by an array of pathologies that have arisen out of profound hopelessness, a bitter despair, and a civil society that has ceased to function. The opioid crisis; the retreat into gambling to cope with economic distress; the pornification of culture; the rise of magical thinking; the celebration of sadism, hate, and plagues of suicides are the physical manifestations of a society that is being ravaged by corporate pillage and a failed democracy. As our society unravels, we also face global upheaval caused by catastrophic climate change. All these ills presage a frightening reconfiguration of the nation and the planet.
Donald Trump rode this disenchantment to power. In his “forceful and direct” (Publishers Weekly) America: The Farewell Tour, Hedges argues that neither political party, now captured by corporate power, addresses the systemic problem. Until our corporate coup d’état is reversed these diseases will grow and ravage the country. “With sharply observed detail, Hedges writes a requiem for the American dream” (Kirkus Reviews) and seeks to jolt us out of our complacency while there is still time.
Journalist Hedges's latest critique of late-stage capitalist America is forceful and direct, reflecting a weary despair backed up by diligent reporting. He sees the ills of drugs, gambling, pornography, hate groups, mass incarceration, and an oppressive state as evidence of a "creeping corporate coup d' tat," decries the fiction of an economic recovery, and paints the election of Donald Trump and the ascendancy of "his coterie of billionaires, generals, half-wits, Christian fascists, criminals, racists and moral deviants" as embodying "the moral rot unleashed by unfettered capitalism." He turns an unflinching eye on the opioid crisis, the evisceration of organized labor, and the resurgence of hate groups, and supports his contention that laborers are on a "global plantation built by the powerful" with harrowing descriptions of sex work in the pornography-industrial complex. In Hedges's view, the few positive responses left to Americans are to band together for small-scale socialist enterprise and community, and engage in "a global fight for life against corporate tyranny" as exemplified by the protests against industry might and police power in Standing Rock, S.Dak., and Ferguson, Mo. Though this account is trenchant, even the staunchest adherents of Hedges's unreconstructed socialist views may feel drained by the unrelenting bleakness of its worldview.