As Obama’s triumphant ‘Yes we can’ continues to reverberate, it’s tempting to believe that a new era of opportunity has dawned. But there still are several million dirt-poor, disgruntled Americans for whom the possibility of change is as far away as ever. These are the gun-owning, donut-dunkin’, uninsured, underemployed rednecks who occupy America’s heartland: the ones who never got a slice of the pie during the good times, and the ones who have been hit hardest by the economic slump. Theirs is a hard-luck story that goes back generations and Joe Bageant tells it here with poignancy, indignation and tinder-dry wit. Through the tale of his own rambunctious Scots-Irish family, starting with his grandparents Maw and Pap, Bageant traces the post-war migration of the rural poor to the sprawling suburbs where they found not the affluence they’d dreamed of, but isolation and deprivation and the bitter futility of hope.
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