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I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) | [Chuck Klosterman]

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the very nature of how modern people understand the concept of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don't we see Batman the same way we see Bernhard Goetz? Who's more worthy of our vitriol - Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson's second-worst decision? Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and limitless imagination, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the anti-hero.
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Publisher's Summary

From New York Times best-selling author, "one of America's top cultural critics" (Entertainment Weekly), and "The Ethicist" for The New York Times Magazine, comes a new book of all original pieces on villains and villainy.

Chuck Klosterman has walked into the darkness. As a boy, he related to the cultural figures who represented goodness - but as an adult, he found himself unconsciously aligning with their enemies. This was not because he necessarily liked what they were doing; it was because they were doing it on purpose (and they were doing it better). They wanted to be evil. And what, exactly, was that supposed to mean? When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying (and why are we so obsessed with saying it)?

In I Wear the Black Hat, Klosterman questions the very nature of how modern people understand the concept of villainy. What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don't we see Batman the same way we see Bernhard Goetz? Who's more worthy of our vitriol - Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson's second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still obsessed with some kid he knew for one week in 1985?

Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and limitless imagination, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the anti-hero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). I Wear the Black Hat is the rare example of serious criticism that's instantly accessible and really, really funny. Klosterman is the only writer doing whatever it is he's doing.

©2013 Chuck Klosterman (P)2013 Simon & Schuster

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (200 )
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4.2 (183 )
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  •  
    Niels J. Rasmussen Edmonton, Alberta Canada 08-20-13
    Niels J. Rasmussen Edmonton, Alberta Canada 08-20-13 Member Since 2012

    Dr. Nils Rasmussen

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My Favorite Writer Falls a Little Short..."
    Any additional comments?

    For years now, Chuck Klosterman has been my favorite author because of his quick wit, sub-pop cultural knowledge, conversational style, and his unique way of looking at the rest of the world. His books "IV" and "Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs" are some of the titles I am most proud to have on my bookshelf.

    Although this book IS incredibly insightful at times, and it DOES read just as easily as any of Klosterman's other work, it falls just a LITTLE short of what I had hoped. I believe this is because, (up until this book), he had never penned himself in to a corner as far as the exact TOPIC of what he was "supposed" to write about. Although I'm sure his goal was to have everything tie together neatly in the end, the book comes across as a collection of essays that are related only by the slightest thread.

    Still, a very enjoyable listen but I'm sure that Chuck wishes he hadn't given himself self-imposed restrictions on his subject matter.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brandy Durham, NC, United States 08-30-13
    Brandy Durham, NC, United States 08-30-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Enjoyable - for a certain age range."

    I enjoyed this book a lot, the narrator took some getting used to but about a half hour into it, I felt like I was having coffee with a friend and discussing pop culture. I don't know if I would have enjoyed it as much if I was not in the author's age range, but since I am, I found it very thought-provoking and well-explained. Discussing some of the topics after reading, I discovered that Batman is a highly sensitive subject with a lot of people. I find myself evaluating people's motivations (characters or real people) with a more discerning eye after reading this. Well worth the credit spent.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Danielle JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, United States 08-20-13
    Danielle JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, United States 08-20-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Thoughtful but not as good as some of his others"
    Any additional comments?

    While the premise was interesting it seemed at times like he was all over the place and it was a bit confusing. Many of his ideas are interesting but he doesn't really provide much concrete evidence of them. I think the book really brings up good ideas but his support for his opinion on the ideas sometimes just isn't there. This also is the first book of his I have read where some of his personal biases seem to have clouded his reasoning and not made me buy in.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt Oklahoma City, OK, United States 08-02-13
    Matt Oklahoma City, OK, United States 08-02-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow. What a pleasant surprise."

    This is the first Chuck Klosterman book I've ever read. It was lighthearted, thought provoking and a lot of fun. I will be listening to his other books for sure.

    One thing to note though. He reads the book himself. And for the first 5 minutes I thought: "This guys should NOT be reading his own book." But after I got used to him, he seems like the perfect person to be narrating his work. I can't imagine one of the typical great readers like Scott Brick reading this. So if you listen to the sample and worry that you won't like the narration, don't worry, you will get used to it, it's a good thing.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc SANTA FE, TEXAS, United States 08-12-13
    Marc SANTA FE, TEXAS, United States 08-12-13 Member Since 2003

    iwannawaterski

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Needs professional narration"

    An excellent essay ruined as an audio book by amaturish narration. Mr. Klosterman should stick to writing and hire a narrator .....

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Dallas, TX, United States 07-31-13
    Christopher Dallas, TX, United States 07-31-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An interesting book that is all over the place"
    Would you consider the audio edition of I Wear the Black Hat to be better than the print version?

    I dont know. I didnt read the print version


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    There were no characters


    What about Chuck Klosterman’s performance did you like?

    His performance was really good. As it was his own writing, he was able to put the right amount of emotion and flow with it


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    There were a few. I liked the premise of the book and how it related to Nicolo Macchiavelli. The parts that made no sense, like his chronological list of bands that he hated and why, were funny but a bit nonsensical to me.


    Any additional comments?

    This is an entertaining book, but I'm not 100% sure why. Its one part philosophy and one part random story telling and funny commentary. I wish it were longer and Id read anything else he did as a result of this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    chuck kettering, OH, United States 07-26-13
    chuck kettering, OH, United States 07-26-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "boring and self indulgent"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    i wish it was interesting and not about 90's pop culture.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    something fictional.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Chuck Klosterman’s performances?

    never


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    boredom and irritation


    Any additional comments?

    i truly uninteresting book, i had high hopes for it, but wow, it sucked. Perhaps if i was passionately opinionated about pop music or found this obnoxious author engaging and clever as he thinks he is... no probably not

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
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