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4 out of 5 stars
What's the Matter with White People: Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
As a Black man, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I used to question why so many of my White brothers and sisters vote against their own self-interest, but now I know. Thanks, Joan Walsh. They are a work in progress, not yet ready to embrace a shared future of equality, fairness and justice. My hope is they will come to their senses and not be left behind.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 17, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I still am in the dark as to why people, especially poor white people, vote against their own self interest. I was hoping this book would provide some answers but either I missed that part, although I did read the whole book, or Ms. Walsh is still having some difficulty expressing those reasons with greater clarity. At least she knows this is an enormous problem in our society and she is out there asking the questions that need to be asked and eventually answered if we are ever going to return to a society where class mobility, not class stagnation, is the norm.
I give her four stars for such great historical perspective and a good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Excellent recap of recent politics seasoned with personal experiences with a sensibly balanced approach that sees many sides of issues. Not an answer but an intelligent exploration of whether we can ever find common ground.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
When the hardcover was released the subtitle was, "Why We Long for a Golden Age That Never Was." It changed with the issue of the paperback edition to read, "Finding Our Way in the Next America." A better idea, but in a polarized US, various factions actually want us to "find THEIR way" and to heck with ours.

Walsh's wide-ranging personal observations covering the last 40 years never really answered the "why" of the 2012 hard cover edition. Instead, she informally but closely pondered her Irish Catholic family background in NY, a personal account/perspective on the changes in the US political landscape since the end of the VIetnam War. The trouble with this approach, is that Walsh doesn't add anything new to this history, and which is more thoroughly and engagingly told in one of her sources for WtMwWP: Rick Perlstein's "Nixonland." Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

Neither does she wade deep enough into the question posed by the primary title, "What's the Matter with White People." For me, that subject still needs to be more deeply and widely examined ....... and explained. On Aug. 1, 2014, an interviewee on CNN sized up the polarization of US politics (and culture) by noting that the political divide was boiling down to the Tea Party-infused (and conflicted) Republican Party -- evermore white and male -- vs. the Obama COALITION of women, minorities, independents and liberals of various stripes. To put a more polemical point on this issue, earlier in the year a Republican moderate fretted on MSNBC that his party was morphing into an angry, conspiracy-mongering, insurrectionist, neo-confederate movement -- on its way to becoming a regional party of the deep south and midwest.

Walsh's account does pick up the pace in the closing chapters of Part IV, "Some of My Best Presidents are Black." Her observations in this section stem from her journalism at Salon. This position put her on the front lines of the anti-Obama white conservative backlash. She covers this area well, and her contrast of her perspectives with those of another Irish Catholic, the reactionary Pat Buchanan, are lively. I also appreciated her excoriating of Democratic campaign operatives who routinely dismiss white working class voters (A reliable Republican voting bloc for decades) as "hopeless." She makes a good case that this group is ripe for recruitment to a re-tuned, overhauled liberalism in the 21st century.

In conclusion, I do encourage the reading of Walsh's WtMwWP if you are unfamiliar with the issues of the last 40 years. In this case, her personal account is a most helpful introduction, and her bibliography in the book's Acknowledgements will direct this kind of reader to more scholarly accounts.

3.5 stars.
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on November 28, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I learned a lot about America's past outside of what I was taught in history books. The memoir style of the book helped me get a good idea of how Joan's family saw the political and racial divide in the US. I really got a sense of how divisive politics is the main culprit behind much of the racial and social division we are dealing with today. This book certainly helped me grasp the complex nature of our political environment and see how even the founding of our country helped create the divisive patterns we see now. Joan also sheds light on how racism can be used deliberately or incidentally to create advantages for both Democrats and Republicans. This also alienates sectors of society, which further fuels racism.

Overall, I learned a great deal from this book that I was not aware of in American history. It was a dense read for me, but worth it.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2012
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Joan Walsh explores previously uncharted territory when she dares to examine what Whites in this country refer to as the glory days, but which were actually days of struggling for validation and acceptance for so many others. We have been led to believe that Whites in this country long for days past in which they were revered and readily accepted after arriving here as immigrants. Joan breaks the silence about the early struggles of immigrants and debunks the myth that immigrants were readily accepted into the American fold.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Why do so many people vote against their own best interest? Why do so many people believe the lies despite being shown the facts? I read this to find out. I’m not sure I understand yet but I have some historical perspective. This is a highly personal journey through recent political history, one I have shared to some degree. Like all synopses, it put some things in perspective, things that were too tumultuous at the time to fully comprehend. OTOH, this is a slanted view. Taken in total, society’s upheavals from the Beatniks and the Hippies to the loss of majority status for whites has built up increasing levels of enmity and fear. Stoked by the Far Right media and their demigogues, it is not going to be easy to break the cycle. She has no suggestions.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Excellent read, and not the political screed you might expect. It's a historical, almost academic/scholarly sociological examination of race, culture, and politics among African Americans and Irish immigrants in NYC. Joan follows the thread through the 60s, 70s, the Reagan era, the New Democrat Clinton, Dubya, and ends with Barack Obama. The humanity of the story is deepened by her unflinching look at her own mostly Republican, Irish Catholic, working class extended family. I didn't agree with all of her conclusions and proscriptions, but it was a brave and honest look at history and current politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Must read in this day and age to have somewhat of a feeling as to WHY !!! Thank you Joan.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Joan Walsh's in-depth search for the trail Democratic politics followed in the past 50 years, as it has become more like the "old" Republican party (and pretty much lost the working class to the "new" Republican party) is a marvelous read. She combines her personal experience with her extended Irish-Catholic family with an acute observation of US politics from the viewpoint of an accomplished journalist. The result is an analysis that is both thorough and easy to understand.
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