Strangers in Their Own Land

ows_14727736441747Add “Strangers in Their Own Land” to the list of great books that document our current political divide, such as Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy,” Isenberg’s “White Trash,” Anderson’s “White Rage” and Packer’s “The Unwinding.” Arlie Russell Hochschild, a Berkley sociologist, spent five years studying Louisiana Tea Partiers. In her book, she continues investigating the question posed by Tom Frank over a decade ago in his “What’s the Matter With Kansas.” Although her subjects live in Louisiana, instead of Kansas, the political situation is similar and she describes a “great paradox,” where people hate big government and reject federal aid in a state that heavily relies on federal subsidies (for 44% of its budget) and ranks either last or near last in human development, health, education and other vital categories. She digs into the “deep story” behind why some of the people she interviews resent minorities on welfare more than the chemical companies dumping toxins and carcinogens in their bayous and destroying their environment. This is an insightful book.

Nicole Charbonnet

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