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Non-Fiction Book Club to discuss What's the Matter with Kansas? by Thomas Frank, Thursday, December 1st @ 6:30 PM

Pollard Library Non-Fiction book club meets on the first Thursday of every month at 6:30PM in the ground floor meeting room. Our group is free and open to the public. Copies of books up for discussion are available for patrons to borrow on a first come first serve basis at the 1st Floor Information Desk. You may also reserve a copy by calling the Community Planning Department at 978-674-1542. For more information about this group please contact Sean Thibodeau, Coordinator of Community Planning, at or 978-674-1542.


What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank. Metropolitan Books: New York, 2004.

From Book Jacket:

“With his acclaimed wit and acuity, Thomas Frank turns his eye on what he calls ‘the Great Backlash’—the popular revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment. Marshaling public outrage over everything from improper flag display to un-Christian art, the backlash has achieved the most unnatural of alliances, bringing together blue-collar midwesterners and Wall Street business interests, workers and bosses, populists and right-wingers.
In asking ‘What’s the Matter with Kansas?’ — how a place famous fro its radicalism came to rank among the nation’s most eager audiences for backlash bunkum—Frank, a native Kansan and onetime conservative, seeks to answer some fundamental American riddles: Why do so many Americans vote against their economic and social interest? Where’ the outrage at corporate thievery? Why do illusory slights to the Ten Commandments trouble some people more than do the prospects of falling wages or monopoly power or the destruction of their very way of life?
Frank answers these questions by examining the conservative revolution in his home state, a place that has lately drawn the astonished attention of the world for its unlikely skirmishes over abortion and homosexuality. In Kansas, as in so much of mid-America, Frank finds, society’s losers are even more committed to the Republican agenda than are society’s winners. The state’s low-wage slaughterhouse workers and its struggling farm owns today far outdo the state’s real-estate millionaires and its prospeous telecom execs in dedication to a political program that can only wind up harming them.
A brilliant analysis—and funny to boot—What’s the Matter with Kansas is a vivid portrait of an upside-down country where blue-collar patriots recite the Pledge while they strangle their life chances; where small farmers cast votes for an economic order that will eventually push them off the land; and where a group of frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs has managed to convince the world that it speaks on behalf of the common People.”


About the Author


Thomas Frank is the author of Listen, Liberal, or, Whatever Happened to the Party of the People? (2016), Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right (2012), The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule (2008), What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (2004), and One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy (2001). A former opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper’s. He lives outside Washington, D.C.