And That’s the Way It Is

Charlie LeDuff, Sh*t Show!: The Country’s Collapsing… and the Ratings are Great, Penguin, New York, 2018.

Chris Hedges, America: The Farewell Tour, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2018.

Two very different reporters dig deep beneath the mainstream media chatter to find the authentic, arrhythmic heart of America. Charlie LeDuff and Chris Hedges, both former New York Times writers, are resourceful investigators who go their own ways to find stories. Beyond that instinct for truth, and independence from the media pack, they have radically different methods. Read together, their books complement and corroborate each other.

LeDuff gathers anecdotal evidence from “the fringes” of the country, including minorities and the poor, who rarely have a voice or make an appearance in media until some tragedy befalls them. His made-for-TV antics are gutsy and amusing (a la Michael Moore) but his points are deadly serious.

Hedges’ relentless jeremiad reveals the pathologies of America’s failed institutions, the impotence of our corporate political parties, the rise of the Christian fascism and infotainment that brought Trump to power and the concomitant cruelties of word and deed that spread with toxic speed via our electronic networks, degrading our discourse and our sensibilities. Hedges provides the systemic overview and context for LeDuff’s many examples of U.S. social and economic craziness.

After twelve years at the Times, Charlie LeDuff quit the paper and returned to…

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