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Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump Hardcover – October 17, 2017
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“The seemingly sudden reemergence of the far right in America has left many in a state of panic and bewilderment. Alt-America will be essential in helping us to comprehend the depth of its foundations in national life.”
—Angela Nagle, author of Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right
“Over the last two decades, David Neiwert has been one of our finest analysts of the American far right, paying sustained, serious and careful attention to the seemingly fringe movements of conspiracy theorists and insurrectionists. Now it turns out these movements are not so fringe after all but have helped elect Donald Trump as president. This crisply written book, grounded in his solid reporting, tells the whole sordid story with clarity and force. More than anyone else, Neiwert understands that Trumpism has deep roots in American culture and history. In this book, he lays out those roots for all to see.”
—Jeet Heer, Senior Editor at the New Republic
“For over a decade, David Neiwert has been America’s canary in the coal mine—our national early-warning system on the spread of corrosive, eliminationist, right-wing hatred in our midst.”
—Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
“David Neiwert is among the most astute analysts of the contemporary right.”
—Joe Conason, author of Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth
“Neiwert has not only earned his investigative chops over the past decade or so by exploring the dangerous side of right-wing extremism—he’s proven himself to be one of the more lyrical and elegant writers on the beat.”
“An alarming, well-researched account of how the far-right extremist underground became empowered in the era of Trump … A prescient discussion of one of the darkest issues facing America today.”
“Offers the most comprehensive account of the United States’ renewed extremist cultures … Alt-America excites in its ability to connect the seemingly extraordinary alt-right to the broader culture of wing-nut conservatism, drawing white nationalism, 4chan, Donald Trump, Alex Jones and Fox News together into a wonky negaverse version of political life.”
—John Semley, Globe and Mail
About the Author
David Neiwert is a journalist and author and an acknowledged expert in American right-wing extremism. He has appeared on Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Newsroom, and The Rachel Maddow Show. His work has also appeared in the American Prospect, the Washington Post, MSNBC, Salon, and other publications. His previous books include The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, Strawberry Days: How Internment Destroyed a Japanese-American Community, as well as And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border, which won the 2014 International Latino Book Award.
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I was wrong. The rise of Donald Trump is absolutely central to this book about ht ealt-right--literally, from first page to last.
This is an important book, a real look at the far right in America and how it has been newly empowered thanks to the rise of Donald Trump. Most of it is about the growth of the alt-right during the Obama years, in response to a Democratic African American president. At some level, Trump got that this was his natural constituency, drawing his political appeal by becoming the defacto leader of the "birthers" back in 2011, demanding the black president "show his papers" (and even demanding to see his grades from Columbia and Harvard.) This dogwhistle helped keep a racist lie in mainstream coverage, only weakly challenged by the press--including when candidate Trump refused to talk about it "anymore" while neither admitting it was false nor apologizing for spreading the slur.
The far right has been around a long time as Netwert shows. As he says, "People who have studied the extremist right in a historical and socio-political phenomenaon in depth are acutely aware of a simple truth: America has been very, very lucky so far when it comes to fascistic political movements."
He concludes that "Trump is the logical end result of a years-long series of assaults by the American right, not just on American liberalism but on democratic institutions themselves.With Trump, the long-term radicalization of the right has come home to roost."
Almost 30 years ago, I remember reading a book High Weirdness by Mail about strange groups that you could write off to for literature about their beliefs, and this turned into an entertaining hobby (some of the ones I wrote to still have me on their mailing lists). But what used to be the province of the lunatic fringe is impinging on the mainstream now, and Neiwert gives a perceptive account of just how this has happened, analyzing the psychological traits that give rise to strange beliefs like Birtherism, Truthism, Pizzagate, and so on. And he gives a chilling description of the rise of what he calls "eliminationism" which seeks to get rid of scapegoats by various means that don't always stop short of being lethal (the chants of "lock her up" are a relatively mild form of this).
And the book doesn't neglect the orange-haired elephant in the room. Neiwert discusses the definition (or definitions) of fascism and concludes, correctly I think, that Trump is no fascist, but has simply taken advantage of the spirit of the age to advance his own ego. But in doing so, he's empowering the fascistic elements among his supporters and, in Neiwert's words, "making thuggery seem normal." The book does a good job of explaining the dangers awaiting us. Richard Dawkins recently said "Every country has its psychopaths. In the US they have guns." Too true.