35. Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank

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35. Pity the Billionaire by Thomas Frank

Post  wmeisel on Mon Jan 02, 2012 8:57 pm

Frank is the notable author of "What's the Matter with Kansas?" from a few years back. This book is his attempt to describe and explain what happened over the last two years - how there was a resurgence of the right at a time when one would not expect this to happen.

I had mixed feelings about this book. If you are a political junkie, you probably know most of the things that this book describes. In fact, my impression was that Frank did a good job of describing what happened, but not such a great job explaining why it happened. Typically, after an economic meltdown, there is a resurgence of the left; why was there a resurgence of the right this time? Frank suggests (in the very last chapter) that the right created a story about what happened (even if it was a story that was mostly untrue) while the left offered nothing. I am not sure this is a convincing argument.

The other thread Frank follows is the use of "left wing" imagery and ideas by right wing people. Glenn Beck seems to be a master at this.

It seems to me that two things are at work here: 1) The degree to which people now get their information from a bubble that shields out conflicting viewpoints (Frank does mention this, but I think it matters more than he does) and 2) The exceptional success of Fox News; it turns out that buying a network to push your viewpoint pays off.

I read this over 3 days, so it clearly held my interest. But I was really expecting a bit more. This might be a book that I recommend sampling before buying.

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