Thanks to NetGalley and Perseus Books for an advanced copy! This did not effect my rating.
Who would have thought this song would come around and be so prescient.
But, before jumping into the book, I want to give you an analogy. Do you remember when you were a kid and had “wars”? Wars, as in, epic battles of will between kids in your neighborhood. They were completely imagined factions and, when you look back on it, you laugh about how ridiculous you were. Sometimes, they were dangerous. At least for me when the kids had BB guns and could actually shoot at you. Still, it was laughable and hilarious and everything in it was completely imagined.
That’s what this book felt like. All of these white nationalists squabbling about imagined hurts and pains, both within themselves and outside, while they’re still on top. They’re poor, but they still have more privilege than others might who are poor and nonwhite.
I think Tenold hit the nail on the head when he said that the “forgotten whites” weren’t victims of a war against white people, but a general war on poverty and minorities where they got swept up (stated in the postscript).
More than anything, this book is a study of these feelings. You get introduced to so many hate groups, along with the history of the group and how they feel about other groups. In short, it’s a really good anthropological study of a niche group in America. Perhaps not so niche as you come to see with just how many groups there are.
You’re taken in by a foreigner who decided to write this book about America’s white nationalism. He doesn’t give his opinion on it. He just presents these people as they are, along with what they believe. I found it very enlightening, just like I found Hillbilly Elegy enlightening. I was exposed to something I usually wouldn’t by someone who knows the culture well. And I wouldn’t have read something written by a white nationalist either, just because I wouldn’t want to read their hate and vitriol.
Along with that, this book was about Matthew Heimbach.
He’s a relatively normal looking man. A poor man with a budding family, one who just wants to succeed in the world.
Yet, he’s a white nationalist. He wants white people to have their own area and it to be ethnically homogenous. This book also follows him since he’s Tenold’s in with the groups. Heimbach wants to join the groups together and politicize the alt-right. And this book isn’t just an explanation of white nationalism in America, but also showing how he further radicalized and became the “hard right”.
While this book might be short, it covers a lot of ground. It was probably scarier than most of the horror books I’ve read recently. It’s an eye-opening and frightening book that is human.