The rise of Donald Trump as the Republican candidate for President has millions of Americans—politicians, journalists, and ordinary citizens alike—racing to play catchup to better understand not only his appeal, but the hearts and minds of those who support him. Sociologist and bestselling author Arlie Hochschild is way ahead of the curve. For the past decade, from her home in Berkeley, CA, Hochschild became increasingly curious about “red” America. She wondered: why do the people in poor red states who would seem to benefit most from liberal government intervention abhor the very idea? Why do so many on the political right vote against what seems to be their self-interest? How do those on the right understand their self-interest and how does Trump appeal to it? Do the usual liberal explanations—economics , race—tell the whole story?
Over the last five years, Hochschild “embedded” herself in Lake Charles, Louisiana, about as red a place as you can find. She attended fish fries, gumbo cook-offs, Pentecostal church services, and Trump rallies, and had long conversations over card games and cookies with people whose political beliefs differed greatly from her own. Ultimately she accumulated 4,690 pages of transcripts based on interviews with more than 60 people. Hochschild masterfully tells the story of her eye-opening journey in STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. In this deeply reported, ambitious exploration into the heart and soul of conservative America, Hochschild reveals what “reaching across the aisle” herself taught her about America’s political divide. Her findings go far beyond today’s election soundbites, revealing deep truths about our highly polarized political climate, and about the hopes—however slight—for changing it.
STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND is a landmark book that has the power to change the way we understand political ideologies.