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Liar's Circus

A Strange and Terrifying Journey into the Upside-Down World of Trump’s MAGA Rallies

Carl Hoffman

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Harper Collins
02 September 2020
History; Social & cultural anthropology; Elections & referenda
In this work of daring and immersive contemporary anthropology, Carl Hoffman journeys deep inside Donald Trump's rallies, seeking to understand the strange and powerful tribe that forms the president's base.

This book proceeds from the premise that Trump's rallies are a singular and defining force - a kind of Rosetta stone to understanding the Age of Trump. Yet while much remarked upon, the rallies are, in fact, little examined, with the focus almost always on Trump's latest outrageous statement. But who are the tens of thousands of people who fill America's stadiums and arenas? What do they see in Trump? And what curious alchemy - between president and adoring crowd - happens there that might explain Trump's rise?

To those on the Left, the rallies are a Black Mass of American politics at which Trump plays high priest, recklessly summoning the darkest forces within the nation. To the MAGA (Make America Great Again) faithful, the rallies are a form of pilgrimage, a joyous ceremony that - like all rituals - binds people together and makes them feel a part of something bigger than themselves. Both sides acknowledge that this travelling roadshow (the Wall Street Journal reports there have been more than 550 ticketed campaign events since 2015) is the pressurised, combustible core of Trump's political power, a meeting of the faithful where Trump is unshackled and his rhetoric reaches its most extreme, with downstream consequences for the rest of the nation.

To date, no reporter has sought to understand the rallies as a sociological phenomenon examined from the bottom up. In 2019, Carl Hoffman began to do just this and embedded himself in the Trump rallies. He has stood in line for days with crowds of supporters; he has travelled across the country from Minnesota to Texas to Mississippi interviewing hundreds of attendees and immersing himself in their culture.

A former contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler, Hoffman has travelled to 80 countries on assignment; he has written about cannibals in New Guinea, Mumbai's railways (the deadliest in the world) and the indigenous tribes of Borneo. In Liar's Circus, he trains his unique eye on his own country.
By:   Carl Hoffman
Imprint:   Harper Collins
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 221mm,  Width: 153mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   390g
ISBN:   9780008415983
ISBN 10:   0008415986
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   02 September 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

CARL HOFFMAN is a former contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler and Wired. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Savage Harvest, which was a New York Times editors' choice and one of the Washington Post's 50 notable works of nonfiction for 2014; The Last Wild Men of Borneo, an Edgar Awards nominee and finalist for the Banff Mountain Book Awards and the SATW Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition; and The Lunatic Express. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Reviews for Liar's Circus: A Strange and Terrifying Journey into the Upside-Down World of Trump’s MAGA Rallies

'The indefatigable Carl Hoffman has traveled up New Guinea's Ewta River to visit the isolated Asmat people, and fraternized with the Penan in the rain forests of Borneo. In Liar's Circus, he journeys deep into the world of a no-less-exotic tribe: the hardest of the hard-core supporters of President Donald Trump. Joining the infatuated at campaign rallies from Minnesota to Texas, Hoffman brilliantly evokes both the hypnotic cadences of a demagogue and the misguided faith of his followers. He plunges with them down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, grievances, and alienation-without ever losing sight of their humanity. It is trenchant, surprising, and profound.' Joshua Hammer, bestselling author of The Falcon Thief and The Badass Librarians of Timbuktu


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