BETTER OFF WITHOUT 'EM by Chuck Thompson


A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession
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What at first appears to be a tendentious screed from the left turns out to be an often thoughtful, always irreverent examination of what the author sees as the South’s heavy anchor on our ship of state.

Cut the anchor chain, writes Thompson, freelance journalist and author of snarky travel memoirs (To Hellholes and Back: Bribes, Lies, and the Art of Extreme Tourism, 2009, etc.). He argues with general seriousness that the Old South—with its poor support of public education, firm adherence to evangelical Christianity, skepticism about long-established scientific discoveries, deeply entrenched racism, obsession with violence-as-entertainment (i.e., football), and economic drain on the North—is like a different country anyway. Let ’em secede. Thompson is somewhat arbitrary about the states he wishes gone and those he wishes to keep (Texas is among the latter), but readers who grant him his writer's prerogative to define his own terms will enjoy his joyride through Dixie. This is no niche publication co-authored by a desk-bound writer and Google. Thompson traveled widely in the region, interviewed scholars and football fans, patrons of seedy bars, schoolteachers and kids, preachers and parishioners, politicians and one South Carolina man who sells KKK outfits across the square from the courthouse. (The author bought one.) Thompson also read standard works about the South—fiction and non—and sought to understand. But he still did not like what he found, and his diction ranges from moderately scholarly and disinterested to wildly raunchy and judgmental. He writes that the Southern economic philosophy requires that they “abuse labor, fellate corporate interests (especially foreign ones), and fuck the environment.”

A raucous road trip through the South with a funny, informed, sardonic and opinionated Yankee.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-1665-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2012


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