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Rendezvous with Oblivion: Reports from a Sinking Society Hardcover – June 19, 2018
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Hardcover : 240 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250293669
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250293664
- Product Dimensions : 5.72 x 0.84 x 8.53 inches
- Publisher : Metropolitan Books; First Edition (June 19, 2018)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #69,517 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Having been lured in, I succumbed to the “sunk cost” syndrome and pushed on, hoping the book would get better, and lo and behold, it actually did. Part 3 and (especially) Part 4, comprising the second half of the book, are much better than the first half, and almost redeem it. In particular, the author’s observations about the factors behind Donald Trump’s win in 2016, and what the Democratic Party has become and what it needs to do going forward were well thought out. He avoids falling into the “deplorable” and “racist” labeling to get to the real root of what motivated all those voters. Also, he seemed here more genuinely observant and analytical, rather than just trying to be cute and snarky.
The author confesses about halfway into the book that he is a Sanders Democrat, which was clear to this reader much earlier in the book. Although he obviously does not like Trump, many liberals will probably not like what he has to tell them, however much they need to hear it. A good example of this can be found in some of his words toward the end. First he quotes from Bill Curry, former advisor to President Clinton: "The mistakes of the Democratic party are the mistakes of Obama and Clinton. Taking responsibility for those mistakes means holding them accountable. And so many people have such deep, positive feelings for Obama and the Clintons that they can't bear to have that conversation." The author concludes that Trump wins by the Democrats not changing, and then speculates that certain liberals may feel that's not such a bad choice: "…their disdain for the president is sincere, of course, but it arises from a perception of impropriety, not a fear of material injury. And so for them, there's a realistic alternative to political victory: A utopia of scolding. Who needs to win elections when you can personally reestablish the rightful social order every day on Twitter and Facebook? When you can scold, and scold, and scold, and scold."
I can recommend the book solely based on its second half, if you can make it through the first half (which I almost did not).
For people worrying about a $16.50 price tag, I wonder how they think Thomas pays his bills and buys food to work on his research, talks and books.
I am happy to support the work Thomas does. I get a lot of value from it. He is a smart guy that keeps us thinking. He inspires me to do better in the midst of misinformation, economic inequality, a broken political system and global warming.
Be sure to also read Listen Liberal.
Frank shows us that the decay is not just in the industrial heartland, with its boarded-up store fronts and poverty-wage jobs at Walmart, but also in academia. Here students become debt slaves, while the humanities are squeezed, morality bows before money, and fake degrees proliferate Then he takes on the incrementalism and bipartisanship of the corporate pundits at the Washington Post who make the New Deal politics of Bernie Sanders unacceptable, out-of-bounds, despite both its popularity here and reality in places like Scandinavia. Nor is Frank afraid to take on Obama for bailing out Wall Street instead of Main Street. Or to recognize that a key reason Trump resonated with voters was his consistent talk about bad trade deals, whereas Hillary was unable to connect with many workers. Liberals too should be nostalgic for “a state where the giant chain stores haven’t succeeded in putting everyone out of business”.
The good news from Frank is that Trump’s “election in 2016 was little more than an obscene gesture by an angry public using the candidate as its instrument.” The bad news is that Trump could still win a second term if he lucks out on economic growth, or even that “Trump wins in 2020 by the Democrats not changing”.
Top reviews from other countries
This book will not give you reason for much optimism, but it is refreshing to know that someone of great intelligence is paying attention, and reminding those of us who care to know, that there is a reason for everything.