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Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America Hardcover – September 14, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


“Required reading for anyone who wants to understand the Tea Party movement.”—Gail Collins, The New York Times
“Illuminating… a picture of how different some Tea Partiers are from the Republican establishment’s view of the movement.”—The New York Times Book Review
“[Zernike’s] concise, elegantly written book is a refreshing reminder of what traditional journalism — so often despised and discounted these days — can contribute to the public conversation. . . . A convincing portrait of the [tea party] movement’s most ardent activists.”—Los Angeles Times
“A brisk chronicle of the people who have streamed to the protests [and] flocked to the polls.”—The New Republic
“The most informative and readable.”—The Hill
“The beauty of Boiling Mad is that it’s room-temperature calm. With fresh and surprising reporting, Kate Zernike cuts through the hype on both sides to show the Tea Party as it really is, not as partisans depict it. It’s a complete, balanced, incisive and important account of a reactionary movement that’s changing the country.”—Jonathan Alter, author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One

About the Author

Kate Zernike is a national correspondent for The New York Times and was a member of the team that shared the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting. She has covered education, Congress, and four national elections for the Times and was previously a reporter for The Boston Globe. She lives with her family outside New York City.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Times Books; First Edition edition (September 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780805093483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805093483
  • ASIN: 0805093486
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,043,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By G.X. Larson on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Tea Party: is it a ragtag group of Birchers and birthers, a band of Joes-the-Plumber, a nation of whiners, the silent majority, or politics as usual? Journalist Kate Zernike's timely book argues that there is no single defining phrase that can inscribe the Tea Party movement, because it is hardly a single unified "movement" at all: rather, it is a diverse conglomeration of movements and various political ideals that has taken hold of many Americans, who are "fed up" over government spending, the bailout(s), taxes, (the) health care (law), among other things.

In a sense, the Tea Party is (or was? I am uncertain whether or not to use the past tense) as federalized as it would like to see the United States. It has its origins in Seattle, Chicago, Boston and wherever else a group of neighbors decided to gather and discuss how they would subvert federal spending, health care, and the Republican Party status quo, etc. The Tea Party focuses primarily on economic issues: supporters fervently oppose illegal immigration, they seek the repealing of the health care law, they are infuriated by what they see as reckless federal spending and an ever increasing and looming budget deficit and national debt. Most are in favor of the free market, which they see as 100% American. Many tea partiers get their inspiration from Bastait, Hayek, von Mises, and Ayn Rand; one tea partier argued that (I quote from memory) "we all know that Keyensian economics has been proved wrong. It wasn't FDR's New Deal policies that saved the economy from the Great Depression, it was WWII." (This shows the extent of many a tea partiers' "reasearch".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Roger D. Launius VINE VOICE on November 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I should no longer be surprised by journalistic accounts. They always have the same strengths—and there are some in this book—and weaknesses which are also present here. Kate Zernike’s "Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America" epitomizes well journalistic strengths and weaknesses. First the strengths; it is a well-written account that humanizes the people associated with the Tea Party. We learn quite a lot about several key organizers at the grass roots level, how they came to focus on this arena, and engage in the political activism engendered in the 2009-2010 time frame. We also learn that the Tea Party is much more than an Astroturf organization ginned up by well-funded organizations. Those organizations were present, of course, but they were tapping into a broad discontent with the American culture and seeking to channel it to their agenda, which they succeeded in doing only to a certain extent.

Zernike emphasizes people who had usually not been politically active previously but were distressed by what they saw happening around them. Keli Carender, for example, came out of liberal household in Seattle to become a spark plug in the movement. Zernike also profiles Diana Reimer from a suburb of Philadelphia who had a mortgage under water and had been stretched economically to the point where the middle class lifestyle she expected was at risk. There are many other ordinary Americans mentioned in this book and what we see to the last one is that they are not crazed racists, radicals, or right wing nutcases. They were reacting, and to some extend continue to react to a set of issues that they see crippling them personally and society as a whole. The result was an emotional and almost primal opposition to what they saw as the status quo.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author (a national correspondent for The New York Times) wrote in the first chapter of this 2010 book, "Its critics dismissed the Tea Party as 'Astroturf'" (i.e., "looking like a grassroots movement but actually fake and manufactured by big interest groups"), and "It certainly had its fringe elements" (such as the "birthers" who insisted that President Obama was "a Kenyan-born Muslim infiltrator"), yet argues that "this fringe did not define the Tea Party." (Pg. 4-5)

Noting that the movement "had failed to attract nonwhites in proportion to their numbers in the country at large" (Pg. 5) they are "Almost uniformly white... disproportionately older than the general public, more likely to have a college or advanced degree, and more likely to describe themselves as fairly or very well off." (Pg. 6) Although conservative about issues such as abortion, "they were more likely than ordinary Republicans to say that they wanted to focus on economic issues." (Pg. 7)

Although the movement is often traced to the 2009 rant on the floor of the Chicago Merchantile Exchange by financial commentator Rick Santelli, Zernike considers the origin of the movement as from a 29-year old woman named Keri Carender (who is "Half-Mexican, with a pierced nose"). (Pg. 13-14)

She asks along with the critics, "If these new grassroots protesters were so upset about deficits and the national debt, why hadn't they massed on the streets during the Bush administration as the numbers soared?" and suggests that "their complaints about fiscal responsibility and big government (was) just a thin disguise for their revulsion against the nation's first black president." (Pg.
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