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Strangers in Their Own Land

Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Narrated by: Suzanne Toren
Length: 11 hrs and 14 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,255 ratings)
Regular price: $24.95
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Publisher's Summary

In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country - a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets, among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident - people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream - and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in "red" America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: Why do the people who would seem to benefit most from "liberal" government intervention abhor the very idea?

Cover image © Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco, Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York and Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles

©2016 Arlie Russell Hochschild (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What members say

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Informative, entertaining, and, yes, life-changing

I read this book to find out why people in the middle of our country and in the South voted for Trump. That's what I found out. Along the way, it was enjoyable and entertaining.

I had already read "Hillbilly Elegy" and "The Unwinding." Hochschild, the author and a sociologist, was able to get into the minds and hearts of people in a Louisiana bayou town. While she started as a University of California, Berkeley, professor, she also lived with these people for five years. She became friends with them and part of their community. So, she was able to open me up to understanding where these people are coming from. This is a major change in my life--now I have hope that we Americans can better understand each other.

If we are to bind up the gaping chasm between Liberals and Trump-supporters, we must understand each other. We must find common ground. I believe that there is common ground if we get to know each other better.

I highly recommend "Strangers in Their Own Land."

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Must read for political moderates

What made the experience of listening to Strangers in Their Own Land the most enjoyable?

Complex issues are easy to conceptualize. The "Deep Stories" of the politically right and left were helpful in understanding and remembering the concepts of the great paradox and the empathy wall in the book.

What other book might you compare Strangers in Their Own Land to and why?

Hillbilly Elegy

What about Suzanne Toren’s performance did you like?

voice is easy to listen to and it was like listening to the author.

If you could give Strangers in Their Own Land a new subtitle, what would it be?

Reduce political partisanism

Any additional comments?

At the end of the book she forgets the ideas of staying objective with the empathy wall and provides only the politically left view in her data.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Amazing and eye-opening

Absolutely amazing, thought-provoking, and eye-opening. I couldn't recommend it more, especially to coastal liberals trying to wrap their minds around the results of the 2016 election.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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Performance undercuts thesis

After Trump won, I decided I needed to read more about the white America that I never talk to. I started with this book because it was recommended by the Director of the National Book Foundation, but immediately ran into a serious flaw in that recommendation: it's written by a UCBerkeley professor. She talks about the empathy wall, but here I am trying to reach across that divide and doing it by means of somebody well entrenched on my side.

The biggest problem I had with this as an audible experience is that the reader has a seriously pretentious accent. What is that? It's not any accent I've encountered in real life. It's some performance projection, but undermines the content. One of the conclusions the author reached in her study of right wing Southern Republicans is that their feelings are hurt by what they perceive to be the disdain the left has for their lifestyle, priorities, and voting. I think the author makes an effort to balance her disagreement and to express her gratitude for their hospitality and willingness to talk to her, the tone of the reader in this audio version is so bizarre that it reinforces the sense that the liberal elite fancies itself superior to "real" America.

59 of 72 people found this review helpful

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A Better Explanation of Current Society

This helped me understand the US electorate. Must read for everyone Republican or Democrat. highly recommended.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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slow in the middle

What made the experience of listening to Strangers in Their Own Land the most enjoyable?

the narrator was good without being cheesy. i really appreciated the tasteful accents and narration.

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

what i took away from this was really the idea that liberals measure themselves as distance from the top where conservatives (especially working class/poorer groups) tend to measure themselves as distance from the bottom, which makes people think liberals just complain while conservatives are humble and grateful. really interesting perspectives presented in the book.

Any additional comments?

this book started off strong, but just dragged and dragged in the middle. once you get to the deep story part you're back in the good stuff, but there was a solid 4 hours in the middle I was just bored.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Buyer beware

I was so disappointed with this book. I am a little to the right of center but more left leaning on some issues, the environment being one. But the whole first half of this book is basically a diatribe against big business pollution in the guise of "trying to scale the wall of empathy." Even when she finally got to what she thought the real issue was, she framed the rest of the book in that overly simplified analogy and never bothered to explore any further.
The narrator had an arrogant, sarcastic tone whenever she read quotes from tea partyers, which just added to the complete lack of empathy the book ended up portraying. I am very interested in this subject, but it would be lovely if someone with more genuine motives would write a book on it.

36 of 47 people found this review helpful

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Maybe with different narrator

The content is thought provoking, but the narration is difficult to stick with. I listen for about an hour at a time--that's all I can take. The tone of the narrator is condescending...I imagine her saying: "...and then we observed the elusive male redneck in his natural environment... I still think her take is useful to listen to... as I find trying to keep an open mind challenging

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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I Tried; I Really Tried...

Would you ever listen to anything by Arlie Russell Hochschild again?

Probably not.

Any additional comments?

This book was described in that I did not think I would hear the deep-liberal overtones, inflections and sarcasm of the mostly conservative residents of the deep south. But, it's all over the book. I skipped around after an hour or so; I was really hoping for an unbiased analysis. Not to be. Maybe it was the way the narrator read it, but I believe this author's background could never allow her to present a fair, indiscriminate view of the land and people where I grew up.

22 of 29 people found this review helpful

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Enlightening

What disappointed you about Strangers in Their Own Land?

See my full review

Has Strangers in Their Own Land turned you off from other books in this genre?

No

How did the narrator detract from the book?

See in my review

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Potential if bias can be removed

Any additional comments?

Ms. Hochschild had a chance to bridge a divide but she blew it. First my bona fides. I am a 55yo physician born and raised in Georgia, living in South Carolina and at this moment on my way to visit dear friends and family in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. I'm a first doctor in my family and love caring for patients, and do so without regard to race, creed, religion, sexual orientation or the ability to pay. I do however despise Obamacare and what it has done to my profession, but I digress. I am that demographic the author came to "study."

Ms. Hochschild would start off well enough, describing a character and area of Louisiana accurately, but out of nowhere would launch into a diatribe about the oil industry. the Koch Brothers and Fox News (said repeatedly with emphasis and disdain) but no mention of government bureaucratic overreach or George Soros or any of, in our view, legitimate concerns we have. I could tell in the first two chapters that this was not an objective scientific sociology study of a demographic but an affirmation of the presumed moral superiority of the author's liberal followers.

What is worse is the horrendous narration of the audiobook. While I'm sure that Suzanne Toren is a fine and decent lady her voice has a superior "look-down-your-nose" tone to a Southerner's ear. Her faux accent did not even remotely come close to Cadiens-du-meche or River-Roads Cajun accents. The effect is to portray those folks as the lesser informed or educated, intended or not.

I applaud the author for at least starting out with the intention of looking at a culture so different from her own in order to improve the understanding of that culture by those that think as she does, but ultimately she fails, succumbing to the very bias that has helped lead to this divide in our nation. It is for this reason I find the book enlightening. How can urban dwellers that claim superior education and tolerance have such a hard time understanding us, accepting us, talking to us without labeling us as backward rubes, racists, misogynists and xenophobes? In my opinion that is the definition of xenophobia itself. Thank God for the 12th Amendment.

39 of 53 people found this review helpful

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  • sarahbia
  • 03-22-17

Dull

Dull and unsatisfying. I only got as far as j did thanks to the acclaim this book received. I fail to see what all the fuss was about. My recommendation - don't bother.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful