Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball
Author: Smith Ken (ed)
'Essentially, it comes down to the fact that a very large portion of Americans are crazier than shithouse rats and are being led by a gang of pathological misfits, most of whom are preachers and politicians.'
In 2004, at the age of 58, writer Joe Bageant sensed that the internet could give him editorial freedom. Without having to deal with gatekeepers, he began writing about what he was really thinking, and started submitting his essays to left-of-centre websites.
Joe's essays soon gained a wide following for his forceful style, his sense of humour, and his willingness to discuss the American white underclass, a taboo topic for the mainstream media. Joe called himself a 'redneck socialist', and he initially thought most of his readers would be very much like himself — working class from the southern section of the USA. So he was pleasantly surprised when the emails started filling his in-box. There were indeed many letters from men about Joe's age who had also escaped rural poverty. But there were also emails from younger men and women readers, from affluent people who agreed that the political and economic system needed an overhaul, from readers in dozens of countries expressing thanks for an alternative view of American life, from working-class Americans in all parts of the country, and more than a few from elderly women who wrote to Joe to say that they respected and appreciated his writing, but 'please don't use so much profanity'.
Joe Bageant died in March 2011 at the age of 64, having published 89 essays online. The 25 essays presented in Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball have been selected by Ken Smith, who managed Joe's website and disseminated his work to the wider media and to Joe's dedicated fans and followers.
'One of the great American writers of his generation.' – Charles Firth
'Bageant must be one of only a handful of people who can provide and understanding of what America's redneck underclass is thinking. The mix of storytelling and political commentary is superb.' – The Daily Telegraph
'Bageant may write like a dream but he hasn't forgotten where he came from . . . Cutting through the corporatist film-flam, he describes just what trouble America is in.' – The Australian Financial Review Magazine