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An often reactionary diatribe on reverse discrimination by the editor of the 'zine Answer Me!, redeemed in large part by its author's phenomenal sense of humor.

Goad disavows both the political right and left, but he's most likely to be tagged as a conservative. He's most lucid when characterizing the centuries-old race struggle in our country as a smokescreen for what should really be a class struggle. The poor have been enslaved, persecuted, and exploited by the upper class regardless of skin color, Goad maintains. That words like "redneck'' and "white trash'' are deemed acceptable while the "N-word'' is not is proof that as Americans, by and large, we have been duped by rich folks into playing the race card. The author is at his best when using humor to elucidate a point, as when he argues that both black slaves and some disenfranchised whites were cheated and lied to by society in the same manner. Ex-slaves were offered 40 acres and a mule (which they never saw); whites in 18th-century America who had been bonded servants (in effect, white slaves) were promised "two suits, an ax, and two hoes.'' The hoes, "we are to presume, were gardening tools instead of prostitutes, unless `weeding' and `grubbing' were sexual euphemisms in colonial America.'' Goad's astute command of history and his sharp wit make for a volatile combination, and one that could be misread. A truly bigoted reader may take Goad's remarks about Lincoln not really intending to free the slaves, or about there being other Holocausts besides the Jewish one, out of context and use them to buttress their racism or anti-Semitism--views that Goad clearly does not sympathize with. But, of course, ideas that have value are also often dangerous.

While Goad's defense (and overview) of redneck culture past and present is sure to infuriate the liberal reader, he is also likely to make that same reader laugh ruefully, and often.

Pub Date: May 14th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-83113-9
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997