Reader, Meet Writer: Carl Hoffman
In partnership with the Southern Independent Bookseller Alliance, Page 158 Books is excited to present Reader, Meet Writer, a virtual event series featuring Southern authors hosted by national bestselling author Wiley Cash. Space is limited, so RSVP is required. Check out the rest of the tour on our website.
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail meets Strangers in Their Own Land in this work of daring and immersive contemporary anthropology: Carl Hoffman, who has written about the most dangerous and remote corners of the world, journeys deep inside Donald Trump’s rallies, seeking to understand the strange and powerful tribe that forms the president’s base.
This book proceeds from the premise that Donald J. Trump's rallies are a singular and defining force—a kind of Rosetta stone to understanding the Age of Trump. Yet while much remarked upon, the rallies are, in fact, little examined, with the focus almost always on Trump’s latest outrageous statement. But who are the tens of thousands of people who fill America’s stadiums and arenas? What do they see in Trump? And what curious alchemy—between president and adoring crowd—happens there that might explain Trump’s rise?
To those on the Left, the rallies are a Black Mass of American politics at which Trump plays high priest, recklessly summoning the darkest forces within the nation. To the MAGA faithful, the rallies are a form of pilgrimage, a joyous ceremony that like all rituals binds people together and makes them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Both sides would acknowledge that this traveling roadshow (the Wall Street Journal reports there have been more than 550 ticketed campaign events since 2015) is the pressurized, combustible core of Trump’s political power, a meeting of the faithful where Trump is unshackled and his rhetoric reaches its most extreme, with downstream consequences for the rest of the nation.
To date, no reporter has sought to understand the rallies as a sociological phenomenon examined from the bottom up. In 2019, Carl Hoffman began to do just this and embedded himself in the Trump rallies. He has stood in line for days with crowds of supporters; he has traveled across the country from Minnesota to Texas to Mississippi interviewing hundreds of attendees and immersing himself in their culture. A former contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler, Hoffman has traveled to 80 countries on assignment; he has written about cannibals in New Guinea, Mumbai’s railways (the deadliest in the world), and the indigenous tribes of Borneo. Now he trains his unique eye on his own country.
Publishing in the heart of the 2020 election cycle, here is a fresh and notable take on Trump and the America he has built, from one of our most talented journalists.
Carl Hoffman is a former contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler and Wired. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Savage Harvest, which was a New York Times editors' choice and one of the Washington Post's 50 notable works of nonfiction for 2014; The Last Wild Men of Borneo, an Edgar Award nominee and finalist for the Banff Mountain Book Awards and the SATW Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition; and The Lunatic Express. He lives in Washington, D.C.
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