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Liar's Circus


Carl Hoffman


In this work of daring and immersive contemporary anthropology, Carl Hoffman, who has written about the most dangerous and remote corners of the world, 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 Donald J. 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 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 would 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 traveled 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. Now he trains his unique eye on his own country.

Carl Hoffman is a former contributing editor of Wired and National Geographic Traveler and is the author of five books. Savage Harvest was a New York Times Editor's Choice, a New York Times bestseller, and a Washington Post notable book of the year. The Last Wild Men of Borneo was a finalist for the Banff Mountain Book Competition and an Edgar Award. The Lunatic Express was named one of the ten best books of the year by The Wall Street Journal.

Category:  Current Affairs
ISBN:  9780008415983
Publisher:  HarperCollins Publishers
On sale:  October 2020
List price:  R330 
Format:  Paperback
eBook ISBN 
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