What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank

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Synopsis

One of "our most insightful social observers"* cracks the great political mystery of our time: how conservatism, once a marker of class privilege, became the creed of millions of ordinary Americans


With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank turns his eye on what he calls the "thirty-year backlash"--the populist revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment. The high point of that backlash is the Republican Party's success in building the most unnatural of alliances: between blue-collar Midwesterners and Wall Street business interests, workers and bosses, populists and right-wingers.


In asking "what 's the matter with Kansas?"--how a place famous for its radicalism became one of the most conservative states in the union--Frank, a native Kansan and onetime Republican, seeks to answer some broader American riddles: Why do so many of us vote against our economic interests? Where's the outrage at corporate manipulators? And whatever happened to middle-American progressivism? The questions are urgent as well as provocative. Frank answers them by examining pop conservatism--the bestsellers, the radio talk shows, the vicious political combat--and showing how our long culture wars have left us with an electorate far more concerned with their leaders' "values" and down-home qualities than with their stands on hard questions of policy.


A brilliant analysis--and funny to boot--What's the Matter with Kansas? presents a critical assessment of who we are, while telling a remarkable story of how a group of frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs came to convince a nation that they spoke on behalf of the People.


*Los Angeles Times

 

About Thomas Frank

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Thomas Frank is the author of Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, What's the Matter with Kansas?, and One Market Under God. A former opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper's. He lives outside Washington, D.C.
 
Published April 1, 2007 by Metropolitan Books. 332 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

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Whatever the root causes, many of which seem to have something to do with fear and loathing of big-city types and ethnic minorities, Kansas voters—and even the Vietnam vets among them—seem to have picked up on the mantra that the “snobs on the coasts” are the enemy, and that Bush (“a man so ham-h...

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Huntington News

Joan Walsh draws on her experience with her extended Irish-American family in a lively dissection of a Golden Age that appears to be gone forever -- or maybe is an illusion -- in "What's the Matter with White People?

Sep 12 2012 | Read Full Review of What's the Matter with Kansas...

The New York Review of Books

See David Kirkpatrick, "A Senator's Call to 'Win This Culture War,'" The New York Times, September 1, 2004, and Julia Duin, "GOP Keeps Faith, But Not in Prime Time," Washington Times, September 1, 2004.

May 12 2005 | Read Full Review of What's the Matter with Kansas...

Mother Jones

Skilled and semi-skilled manual jobs are on the decline, of course, but if we count as blue-collar those workers without a college degree, as Ruy Teixeira and Joel Rogers do in their book Why the White Working Class Still Matters, then blue-collar voters represent 55% of all voters.

Jun 17 2005 | Read Full Review of What's the Matter with Kansas...

News Review.

It took conservatives less than 10 years to begin chipping away at the Donahoe Act, and despite the system’s efforts to fill in the gaps with student grants and loans, the financial burden has steadily shifted from the state to the backs of students.

Mar 04 2010 | Read Full Review of What's the Matter with Kansas...

Mother Jones

Yet the film ends with a home-schooled Fox follower declaring that the framers believed "that our country needed to be founded on Christian principles" and a mention of the murder of Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

Feb 05 2010 | Read Full Review of What's the Matter with Kansas...

Carlin Romano

I'm sorry to say that his arguments have carried the day in all too many left precincts of the university, and I'm even sorrier to say that McChesney's claim that cultural studies "signifies half-assed research, self-congratulation, farcical pretension" has been gleefully seconded by much of the ...

Sep 14 2009 | Read Full Review of What's the Matter with Kansas...

Flixist

Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!] When we posted the tr...more [From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX.

Feb 01 2011 | Read Full Review of What's the Matter with Kansas...

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