An attempt to understand how, over the last decade, reaction has morphed into delusion, social division into distrust, distrust into paranoia, and hatred into fantasies--sometimes realities--of violence.
A yearslong, one-man anthropological expedition into the heartland of the far right ... a riveting, vividly detailed collage of political and moral derangement in America, one that horrifyingly corresponds to liberals’ worst fears ... Sharlet’s authenticity and urgency as an essayist stems from his spooked, vulnerable persona, which confers on him a moral credibility that an ostensibly neutral writer would lack ... Jeff Sharlet doesn’t propose a practical solution to the problem, but this book is his way of sounding the alarm.
A travelogue that tarries with furious people in forgotten places, all of them convinced that civil war of some sort is in the offing ... To put it in religious terms, one could say he’s turned his attention from the pulpit to the congregation ... If The Undertow lacks anything, it’s a sense of the grim economic landscape ... But that’s a minor quibble. I deeply appreciate Sharlet’s mythic-religious approach and how it enables him to capture what other journalists miss.
The Undertow feels at once urgently important and inconclusive. Perhaps we’ve realized, at long last, that sermons and parables, from Edwards to Trump, won’t save us. In fact, they just might be the death of us ... Harrowing, heartbreaking, scary, but also bleakly funny in a theater-of-the-absurd way, The Undertow is a Wisconsin Death Trip for the Trumpocene, a graveside elegy on the edge of the burn pit that used to be—if only aspirationally—a democracy.