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I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) Audible – Unabridged

3.9 out of 5 stars 210 customer reviews

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Format: Hardcover
Reading Klosterman's book I found myself thinking about the old adage about opinions, that everyone has one and well you know the rest.

As a new Klosterman reader perhaps I came to the book expecting the wrong thing. I expected a cogent thoughtful treatise on what causes us to identify some people or characters as villanous while giving others the pass. And while Klosterman starts off his first chapter in this direction with a discussion of why Machiavelli is widely reviled, he quickly dissembles into some serious navel gazing.

Klosterman opens his second chapter with an extended discussion of bands he has disliked. I'll admit that I didn't care much about Klosterman's taste in music, however the discussion might have been justified had it fed some larger reasoned conclusion. However, even after re-reading his discussion twice I could not make out exactly what his larger point was. While he wrote in exacting detail about his personal taste he definitely phoned it in when it came to drawing conclusions.

From there Klosterman launched into a discussion of why some mysoginist music from decades passed has come to be thought of as mostly harmless while a similarly sexist comedian is still reviled. Again Klosterman doesn't draw any strongly reasoned conclusions, and it's even the conclusions that he does draw seem suspect given that he offers up no support other than his own opinions and no additional examples beyond the two he has discussed.

And to be honest even though Klosterman was clearly working to paint his sexist comedian as a sympatheitc victim of political correctness, it was difficult to find much to sympathize about a man who made millions calling women dirty names on stage.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I would have to assume that most people enjoy reading Klosterman because: (1) he is a good writer, (2) he is interesting, (3) he is relatable, and (4) he writes on topics that appeal to a certain generation (born 1970 -1990). Having read Cocoa Puffs, Dinosaur, Killing Yourself, IV, etc., I will say that this book is consistent with the reasons why we enjoy Klosterman. In fact, this was probably the best one yet (my personal preference is to read a book with a central theme about something interesting such as "good vs. evil" rather than occasional essays on music bands I don't necessarily relate to -- though there is some of that too).

I find that the reviews that criticize Klosterman's ideas or express disagreement with his conclusions are probably missing the point - the questions he raises are just as important as his assertions. You don't have to agree. The Amazon summary is exactly correct: "Klosterman continues to be the only writer doing whatever it is he's doing." Fans of his other books will enjoy this.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read some of Chuck Klosterman's writing in the news paper, but this is the first book I've read. I think I found the book via an Amazon recommendation (I like to review my recommendations during dull telephone calls), and I happened to purchase I Wear the Black Hat. Today, I'm home with a bad cold, and normally, I'd read some fun, escapist mystery story. But - I happened on I Wear the Black Hat on my Kindle, and barely moved for the 3 - 4 hours it took me to read the book.

So--what is this book? It's a series of chapters about various villains ranging from The Eagles to O.J. Simpson to Hitler. Each mini expose is wrapped in a small shroud of pop culture, putting the villain into context for us--or not.

I'm not sure why I liked it so much, think it was partly that the book is smart, partly that it is irreverent, maybe because there are some good musical references, and heck, it is probably talking down to me but I don't know. Whatever it is, the book was an enjoyable few hours during which my cold symptoms ceased to annoy me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Big fan of both his pop culture work as well as his fiction. I Wear the Black Hat does not disappoint. Same old Chuck Klosterman spinning weird yet hilarious diatribes out the annuls of pop culture, but what he has crafted much better than his earlier work is sticking to a theme. Sure Killing Yourself to Live was based around his trip to visit sites of rock n' roll atrocities but the content of what he talked about was really all over the map. Fargo Rock City is probably only the other book where he really stuck to one topic. This book is better because it is not such a limited subject, he is exploring the psyche and both internal and external perception of what it is to be a villain both in the fictional world and our own. He is at his best when focused and this book is no exception.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have to confess that this was a far better and more erudite book than I had expected. Although written in a sometime flippant manner and with a distinct pop culture perspective, it is both both introspective and sophisticated in its analysis of the 'bad guys', and it strays all over the map from the slightly bad to the really devilish. I couldn't wait to read each essay (you know how you always think "I'll stop at the end of this one"? That never really happened for me, and I ended up reading it over the course of two transatlantic flights), and I think I learned a few things about myself and humanity in general from reading it. Highly recommended.
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