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Publisher's Summary

A daring, firsthand, and utterly unscripted account of crisis in America, from Ferguson to Flint to Cliven Bundy's ranch to Donald Trump's unstoppable campaign for President - at every turn, Pulitzer-prize winner and best-selling author of Detroit: An American Autopsy Charlie LeDuff was there.

In the fall of 2013, long before any sane person had seriously considered the possibility of a Trump presidency, Charlie LeDuff sat in the office of then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and made a simple but prophetic claim: The American people were at breaking point. The country was going broke and on high boil. No one in the bubbles of Washington, DC; New York; or Los Angeles was talking about it - least of all the media. LeDuff wanted to go to the heart of the country to report what was really going on. Ailes balked. Could the hard-living and straight-shooting LeDuff be controlled? But, then, perhaps on a whim, he agreed. And so LeDuff set out to record a TV series called The Americans, and, along the way, ended up bearing witness to the ever-quickening unraveling of The American Dream.

For three years, LeDuff traveled the width and breadth of the country with his team of production irregulars, ending up on the Mexican border crossing the Rio Grande on a yellow rubber kayak alongside undocumented immigrants; in the middle of Ferguson as the city burned; and watching the children of Flint get sick from undrinkable water. Racial, political, social, and economic tensions were escalating by the day. The inexorable effects of technological change and globalization were being felt more and more acutely, at the same time as wages stagnated and the price of housing, education, and healthcare went through the roof. The American people felt defeated and abandoned by their politicians, and those politicians seemed incapable of rising to the occasion. The old way of life was slipping away, replaced only by social media, part-time work, and opioid addiction.

Sh*tshow is that true, tragic, and distinctively American story, told from the parts of the country hurting the most. A soul-baring, irreverent, and iconoclastic writer, LeDuff speaks the language of everyday Americans and is unafraid of getting his hands dirty. He scrambles the tired old political, social, and racial categories, taking no sides - or prisoners. Old-school, gonzo-style reporting, this is both a necessary confrontation with the darkest parts of the American psyche and a desperately needed reminder of the country's best instincts.

©2018 Charlie LeDuff (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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Examinations of the aftermath from the scene

I have always had a respect for the writing of Charlie LeDuff. He comes off as a Mike Rowe of reporters, willing to get in the mix with and talk to and for people at the bottom of the class structure of America. Having written for both the New York Times and TV for Fox, he also tends to look more at how the people at the bottom are effected and not which team gets the most points which is refreshing.

I really enjoyed this book. It will be ripe for cherry picking comments to suit a narrative that people may want to construct about it, but if you look at the heart of it you’ll see that the true core message is there. “The rich won’t pay and the poor can’t pay, so the middle class has to pay” and what that looks like for our present and future when wages stagnate and inflation keeps on going up.

This book was funny and heartbreaking in alternating fashion. In the end it doesn’t provide easy answers or platitudes, just a chance for us to see what it looks like to walk a mile in the shoes of men and women that people hope will just go away because the reality of them is just to depressing in the land of the free.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Official Credentials!!

This was a very moving book. Charlie LeDuff has brought the American story of today to light in a profoundly honest book. It is entertaining, heartbreaking and uplifting, all at the same time. One doesn't have to agree with him on every point to see that the man cares deeply about this country and its people. I tend progressive, and have been dismissive of the Trump supporters. It is easy to see Trump as a con and his supporters as often dupes, yet Charlie's book illustrates that the truth is far more complex then simply, "Trump supporters are stupid racists." Some are, yes, but not all or even most. Our middle class is collapsing and with it our nation. Is it racist when a man who works in construction becomes angry that he can no longer feed his family because illegal immigrants will work for half or a third of what it takes to make a decent life? The man may blame the wrong person or group for the situation, but he and his family are still hurting. It IS a SH*tshow out there, and people chose Trump because the other choices were business as usual -full of policies that have abandoned large swaths of our country, regardless of ethnicity, in favor of Wall Street and corporate elites. I read many books on the topic of "Why, oh, why, did so many vote for an obvious buffoon?" and the apologists never swayed me from seeing his supporters as fellow buffoons." But, LeDuff's book shows the "us" in all this, how our divisions are hurting most of us, while favoring the usual suspects. He shines a light on the corruption that is nether left, nor right, but simply endemic. When people's lives are crashing down around them, and they become desperate, is it any wonder they find hope outside the usual channels that are strangling them? At least Trump showed up and talked to these people during the election. Charlie got it mostly right.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • robert
  • heber, UT, United States
  • 05-31-18

Empty calories

Chuck does a good job of making the mundane be slightly less so. Unfortunately like a contemporary Hollywood movie, it lacks anything of substance. One can't speak about contemporary "news" and politics without being somewhat boring.... but he does as good a job as any. I found "Detroit an autopsy" a much more interesting listen. There are no new stories, just retelling of old stories. The modern reiteration of these is more flash over substance. More character development of unique characters is needed for 5 stars. Of course with the exception of recent military history it's becoming rare to find much character in individuals. Narration is fine, a bit over the top, but it matches the story.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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The saddest book I ever laughed my a** off to.

Charlie LeDuff will have you laughing until it hurts! You will laugh all the way to the oven in the kitchen, where you will immediately insert your head and turn on the gas! But seriously, this book illustrates that there is no real "Left" or "Right", "Black" or "White", there are only thieves and the people they steal from. It should be required reading for any idiot who thinks he or she knows what they are doing when they post ANYTHING political on Facebook or other Social Media platform. Because the odds are they are either un-informed, or mis-informed and are degenerating into base tribalism which only serves to make them and us fatter targets for those who steal money or power from where it rightfully belongs. I HIGHLY recommend it. It should be required reading in High School! It might actually make some kids want to finish it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Casey
  • Huron, SD, United States
  • 05-26-18

Charlie Crushed It

I never know what to expect when an author narrates their own work. Most of the time I listen and think the author should have left it to a professional. Sometimes, I think that the author ruined their own work with a horrible performance.

Then there are times like this. Charlie LeDuff was absolutely fantastic. I sat down, thinking I'd listen to the book for just a few minutes today and pick it up again later. The next thing I know, I have listened to the entire thing with very few pauses. I cannot imagine anyone else delivering a performance like Charlie's.

I'm sure a professional narrator could have done a good job with the text and maybe have even done it justice in their own way. But the one thing that only Charlie LeDuff could do is the thing he did in spades. He gave an authentic performance.

He was manic when he needed to be manic and somber when he needed to be somber. He struck the right tone for the story he told but was always energetic.

I guess if you are super partisan or either the left or the right you will find parts of the book hard to swallow but if you are one of the numerous people who span many racial, gender, social, age and class groups who believe that all politicians fail to serve the citizenry, you will spend most of your time listening to the book and nodding along. Well, when you aren't laughing at a funny aside from Charlie.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Charlie LeDuff is BRILLIANCE

Charlie LeDuff is a brilliant journalist with a penchant for finding the truth by any means necessary. He kept me riveted for 7 hours. I suggest anyone who wants to find out about the behind the scenes of reporting, read this book.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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The man gets it done

Say what you will about Charlie's antics and tactics, but he gets the job done. His reporting is unmatched. Save for a bit too much back-patting of his work vs other media types, I really enjoyed it. however, he's totally right. He went where others didn't, stayed longer than anyone else would, asked what no one would, and didn't spin his stories for clickbait. Real people, real America, real news. he attacks both sides of every issue, and gives them their due when warranted. I only wish he'd release a book like this for every news story he went on so one could get the unabridged, non media hyped version of what's happening. Thank you Charlie.

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Right on time

LeDuff hit the nail on the head, chapter after chapter. One of the few times the term fair & balanced has been used as an accurate assessment. This man revived true journalism in an effort to tell the story of what's taking place in the present day US from both points of view.

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Entertaining and educational!!!

Loved it!! Looked forward to listening to it after work!! What a pick me up! Yes, it was spunky!! Funny and articulated with great candor and interesting perspective. listen! You'll love it!!

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Rage, pain and wake up call to all

This is the third book by LeDuff that I read and listened. He is one of those journalists who lives what he writes about.