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Summer 2017 Reads
Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy

  We start our seasonal literary journey of 2017 with Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip!

Wisconsin Death Trip
Hello. This is my face and the book.

  One of the more popular history texts (in that I've heard more than just my fellow history nerds talk about it), this book spawned a film, an album and song by Static-X, and a culty, pop-culturey phenomenon. It's also an example of lazy, bad history. Why? Well, the vast majority of the book is a collection of newspapers clippings and photographs devoid of any context or larger meaning.

Wanking... this is about wanking.
Wanking... this is about wanking.

  When the historian actually does his job in the final pages, the author has a conclusion that is equal parts wrong (cities were breeding grounds for virulent diseases and suicide, too) and shallow. Essentially, his final claim is that Black River Falls, Wisconsin was so wrought with morbidity because mothers and fathers didn't hug their kids enough... or too much... it's too-reaching arglebargle either way.

Speaking of arglebargle, have an 1897 Hot Take: "Actually, Assault and Battery is Good"
Speaking of arglebargle, have an 1897 Hot Take: "Actually, Assault and Battery is Good"

  It's a good reference book for the character of a town at the end of the 19th century, especially if you are looking for the underbelly of country living. But that's all it's for; the references to LGBT life in the state go completely unexplored, spates of arson are left largely decontextualized only to be offhandedly rationalized at the end, and the fact that this takes place during the waning years of the longest depression in American history is unsaid.

  Nice pictures, though.

Purchase Project Northwoods at Amazon.com.   Purchase Washed Hands at Amazon.com   Purchase Improbables at Amazon.com.

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