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The Great Derangement: A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire Hardcover – May 6, 2008

4 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With his trademark mordant wit, journalist Taibbi explores the black comedy of the American polis, where a citizenry shunted out of the political process seeks solace in conspiratorial weirdness and Internet-fueled mysticism. Trained from birth to be excellent consumers, Americans have become experts in mixing and matching news items to fit [their] own self-created identities, according to the author, who embeds himself in these pockets of people as he travels to the Congress press gallery, Iraq, meetings of the 9/11 Truth Movement, and goes undercover at a Christian Retreat. He pillories born-again Christians and the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, concluding that despite their differences: Both groups were and are defined primarily by an unshakeable belief in the inhumanity of their enemies on the other side; the Christians seldom distinguished between Islamic terrorism and, say, Al Gore–style environmentalism, while the Truthers easily believed that reporters for the Washington Post, the president and the frontline operators of NORAD were equally capable of murdering masses of ordinary New York financial sector employees. Thoughtful Democrats, Republicans and independents will find common ground in this book that punctures pretense, hypocrisy and know-nothingness. (May 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.



"Matt Taibbi is the best American journalism has to offer. As The Great Derangement shows, he has absolutely no fear in confronting the corruption that plagues our government and exploring rising desperation that plagues America. And somehow, he pulls it off while making us simultaneously weep in sorrow and laugh our asses off." –David Sirota, author of Hostile Takeover

The Great Derangement is a scabrous, hilarious vivisection of our disintegrating nation. An unstinting reporter and sensational writer, Taibbi shines a light on the corruption, absurdities and idiot pieties of modern American politics. Beneath his cynical fury, though, are flashes of surprising compassion for the adrift, credulous souls who are taken in by it all.  I loved this book."
–Michelle Goldberg, New York Times bestselling author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism

“Where other mainstream news sources fail, Matt Taibbi madly embraces his role as an honest political observer/writer/citizen in a democracy. I would also like to take this opportunity to ask for Matt’s hand in marriage”.
–Janeane Garofalo

“With his trademark mordant wit, Taibbi explores the ‘black comedy’ of the American polis. . .thoughtful Democrats, Republicans, and independents will find common ground in this book that punctures pretense, hypocrisy, and know-nothingness.” —Publisher’s Weekly

“Taibbi is a powerful writer, and his righteous fury with the sickening mechanism of congressional corruption seethes on every page.” –Kirkus Reviews

“It's a fascinating and hilarious study, fueled by Taibbi's own brand of paranoia, reflecting a cruel light on an America gone wild.”Los Angeles Times

 “A vicious, funny, heartbreaking tour of the American scene.” The New York Observer

“Acidly funny… For readers who have themselves grown desperate, Taibbi’s renegade book is a bracing kind of salvation–the kind that will amuse and enrage at the same time.”  Time Out

“Vibrant, rich and irreverent.  It's quotable, pointed, painful, funny and true. Thank God we have Matt Taibbi around.”  –Daily Kos

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; Copyright 2008 edition (May 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385520344
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385520348
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've lived in every corner of the continental United States and Hawaii, but about half of my 62 years have been spent in various cities large and small in Texas. Few writers have managed to capture the creepy folksiness, the numbing intellectual disconnect, and the vicious religiosity of Texas as well as Matt Taibbi. His acutely observed description of Hagee's San Antonio mega-cult is spot on. The author gleefully picks the chunks out of the mind vomit of homophobia, militarism and apocalyptic whackology such outfits specialize in, and clearly identifies how Hagee uses support for Israel (to be carefully distinguished from sympathy for Jewish people) to make powerful political connections. This is a marvelous LOL examination of the intersection of religious and political sleeze in an America that's DOA.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading the exerpt in Rolling Stone about the author's undercover immersion into the Hagee fundamentalist cult. I laughed myself sick and ordered it immediately.

Unfortunately, like most movie trailers, and exerpts published in periodicals, that chapter was the highlight of the book. I kept waiting for more of that sustained humor and bitting wit, but no other chapter came close. Thus, I was somewhat disappointed.

That said, Taibbi gives a good inside understanding of the inner workings of congress, the corruption that has become inherent in our system. His exposee on the 911 conspiracy theorist crazies, and cynical perspective of the Christian Zionist nut jobs and their pathetic flock is revealing and entertaining. Finally, he proffers how these desperate people and divergent groups of the far left and far right are actually a manifestation of American's disgust with, and powerlessness against, the deception and derangement that has become government.

I don't regret buying it, but if I had it to do all over again, I'd wait a few months and get it used at a deep discount.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Got this book Monday, May 5th. Finished it once ... going back again. Matt reveals the absurdity that has this country by the throat. As a former church pastor, the narrative on Matt's adventure with John Hagee's nut bunch was point-on. This book is laugh-out-loud funny but what it reveals is very sad. This book should be required reading in every freshman high school and college civics/polysci course. It's interesting and ironic that Matt Taibbi, Don Imus, Bill Maher, and a very few others may save us from ourselves yet. Thanks guys ... from our kids ... and theirs.
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Format: Hardcover
Taibbi opens by observing that our politics are doomed because the debate no longer uses a commonly accepted set of facts. Instead, we've become a nation of reality shoppers, and vote mainly against enemies and not really for anybody. Political parties understand this - hence the bulk of ads are negative.

Much of the book focuses on the insider game in Washington, the non-functioning government bent on both sides twisting reality while continuing to rake in millions from big business. Meanwhile, Boeing, G.M., and Ford are headed towards becoming Chinese companies, and OPEC is likely to begin trading in the Euro. In between safaris into our government, Taibbi also reports on his immersions into both far-Right evangelical religion and far-left (?) 9/11 Truthers, finding them both living in an imaginary world. The common link in all this nuttiness - Madison Avenue and its world of make-believe messages and promises.

It was shocking to read that the "06 election saw political parties spend $160 million on negative ads, vs. only $17 million on the positive. Debate has mostly been removed from the House schedule - 79% of all bills passed during the Republican's recent majority were "suspension bills" where only 40 minutes of debate are allowed, no amendments can be offered, and a two-thirds majority is required for passage.

The Rules Committee can completely rewrite what passes the committee of jurisdiction (usually in the middle of the night) to include anything leadership knew could not survive public discussion. House members are supposed to have 3 days to read the Rules Committee output before it goes to a vote, but this has been waived in "emergency.
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Format: Hardcover
'The Great Derangement' is something of a mongrel. As a writer for Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi covers a wide variety of subjects. At times 'Derangement' felt as if Mr. Taibbi had stacks of notes on three different subjects, each set too large for an article but too short for a book on its own, and his solution was to combine them all in one book and claim that the combination was in an effort to compare and contrast. At that he is only marginally successful.

Where 'Derangement' is more successful is in actually reporting from inside of each of the three 'worlds' he covers.

The infiltration of Pastor Hagee's megachurch in Texas is where Mr. Taibbi shines most. Although my personal religious leanings are very similar to the author's, I grew up in the church (if a much more 'main line' denomination) and I recognize the individuals that populate Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. He manages to differentiate between the zealots running the show, the crackpot 'yes-men' that form the middle management, and the actual believers in the pews who, while overly credulous, are really just looking for some answers, stability, and a sense of belonging in their life.

While Mr. Taibbi puts forward a more sympathetic portrait of megachurch parishioners, he has no problem allowing Hagee and his ilk to damn themselves. 'Derangement' is a record of Hagee's willingness to lie to his congregation to further his political ends and ingratiate himself with his Washington benefactors.

'The Great Derangement' attempts to provide 'balance' to his critique of Evangelicalism by comparing it to the '9/11 Truth' movement, something that Mr. Taibbi characterizes as 'left-wing' though I find that claim a bit dubious.
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