The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War

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Product Details
$28.95  $26.92
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
6.35 X 9.25 X 1.23 inches | 1.19 pounds

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About the Author
Jeff Sharlet is the New York Times best-selling author or editor of eight books, including The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War and The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, adapted into a Netflix documentary series. His reporting on LGBTIQ+ rights around the world has received the National Magazine Award, the Molly Ivins Prize, and Outright International's Outspoken Award. His writing and photography have appeared in many publications, including Vanity Fair, for which he is a contributing editor; the New York Times Magazine; GQ; Esquire; Harper's Magazine; and VQR, for which he is an editor at large. He is the Frederick Sessions Beebe '35 Professor in the Art of Writing at Dartmouth College, where he lives in the woods with many animals.
Jeff Sharlet's rich narrative prose unpacks a worldview in which US democracy is an existential threat. These essays are an essential read for all Americans.--Jason Stanley, author of How Fascism Works
In these reports from America's different corners there comes a feeling for why we're so broken and what it might take to heal. Brilliant, lucid, incisive, meticulously reported--Jeff Sharlet is at his best here even when we are not.--Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
Brilliant, humane, and incisive, Jeff Sharlet illuminates the fault lines of a fractured nation. His meticulous reporting connects the dots on a stark but hopeful journey.--Wajahat Ali, author of Go Back to Where You Came From
Riveting, insightful.... Weaving religion, hate, hope, and fear into stories that catch us unaware, Jeff Sharlet confronts us with the realities of the shifting American psyche--a must-read in order to understand the conflicting voices and tensions in America today.--Anthea Butler, author of White Evangelical Racism
A riveting, vividly detailed collage of political and moral derangement in America, one that horrifyingly corresponds to liberals' worst fears.--Joseph O'Neill "New York Times"
Jeff Sharlet is one of our essential guides through the Age of Trump, that fascist nightmare and what he describes... as the 'Trumpocene.'--Chauncey DeVega "Salon"
[The Undertow] is a foreboding drive through the backroads of the country's rising militancy. From campy Trump rallies and a memorial service for the January 6 insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt to a televangelist's church in Miami and a self-declared prophet in Omaha, Sharlet takes a hard, unwavering look at the nation's guns-and-Bibles underbelly--James Sullivan "Boston Globe"
[The Undertow] induced a physiological response similar to the one I experienced while reading Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Both books are mood-altering, mind-altering odysseys.--Elizabeth D. Samet "The American Scholar"
Sharlet's books require the kind of reportage that feels both immersive and terrifying--his work takes him deep into uncomfortable territory, holding a mirror up to the world we think we live in to reveal another place altogether. That's what The Undertow promises: a deep dive into the religious dimensions--and fanaticism--of American politics. From a conference for incels to the celebrated martyrdom of a Capitol rioter, Sharlet's new book will be a must read for everyone looking to understand how the country got to where we are.--Emily Firetog "Literary Hub"
A frightening, wholly believable vision of an American cataclysm to come--possibly soon.-- "Kirkus Reviews (starred review)"
Poetic descriptions of America's landscape and history punctuate Sharlet's unsettling insights into the undercurrents of fear, isolation, and anger coursing through the country. It's a jaw-dropping portrait of a country on the edge.-- "Publishers Weekly"
One of my favorite nonfiction writers anywhere, just an incredible writer, and an incredible reporter. [The Undertow] is, I think, among his best work ever.--Chris Hayes "All In with Chris Hayes"
[Sharlet's] stories are as necessary as they are harrowing. The writing is explicit and expansive, almost cinematic, like looking at a battlefield from above. Altogether, it's a rare achievement, a cultural-political book that is literary.... [The Undertow] has a narrative arc that captures the fever pitch of the past decade.--Ann Neumann "The Guardian"
At once heartbreaking and quietly hopeful.... These dispatches immerse readers in the currents threatening to pull a nation apart, while skirting the nihilism that could drag us under.--Jessica Bruder, author of Nomadland
That America is deeply divided is undeniable. Yet underneath this polarization lies a rich tapestry of human experience, stories of individuals inspired by myths, driven by fears, and searching for meaning. At once unexpectedly sympathetic and profoundly disquieting, Jeff Sharlet's work shows how the task of binding our nation together is a daunting one, but the fate of American democracy depends on it.--Kristin Kobes Du Mez, author of Jesus and John Wayne
A grim but necessary examination of democracy's potential assassins, leavened by Sharlet's incredible storytelling and acute observations.-- "Booklist"
I deeply appreciate Sharlet's mythic-religious approach, and how it enables him to capture what other journalists miss. Data can only tell half the story, and usually the half that's less interesting. Add to that the book's welcome ambition, both as journalism and literature. This is no mere compilation of bullet points. This is journalism-as-art, attempting to capture the mood of the nation at this fraught moment, that others in the future may know how it felt to live through the present. Hopefully there will still be readers then.--Adam Fleming Petty "Washington Post"