BOOK REVIEW: “Read This Book: P. L. Thomas and Trumplandia“
Book Review by Peter Greene
One of the first bloggers I stumbled across when I fell down the internet edublogs rabbit hole was P. L. Thomas. I found his writing engaging and interesting, but challenging. Thomas can write about big ideas and keep them anchored to the nuts and bolts at the same time. I’ve always said I like to read hist stuff because it always makes me feel smarter. We also traded some messages about classic seventies comic books, and I admire (without attempting to imitate) his biking prowess.
So it was a real pleasure to have a book by Thomas on my reading pile this summer. Trumplandia: Unmasking Post-Truth America is another hard-hitting book from the folks at Garn Press, a publishing start-up focusing on social justice.
Thomas is good at making connections, and while many of us are getting caught down in the sheer volume of post-truth muck in Trump’s America, Thomas has a real gift for staying above personal arguments and focusing on ideas. Democracy, race, class, education, poetry, and the very bending of Truth itself as we’ve watched it be hammered on for the past few years. Thomas is ridiculously well-read, but he is also a winner of the NCTE George Orwell Award for Distinguished Honesty and Clarity in Public Language, so he never leaves you feeling like you’ve been buried in a hail of erudition, lost in a scholarly fog. He’s clear and smart, but he writes with a transparency that opens doors for the reader rather than leaving them stranded in the foyer, thinking they don’t know enough to enter. Like I said– reading his work makes me feel smarter.
Thomas does the best of what any of us can hope for in these times. See clearly the Kafkaesque mess that is engulfing our country (some of it new, and some of it not so new) while still seeing the virtues, the better qualities that can guide us through this mess, if we’ll just embrace our natures. Click right now and buy a copy.
Author: P.L. Thomas
Book: Trumplandia: Unmasking Post-Truth America
Garn Press (192 pp.)
Paperback $14.95 | Ebook $9.99 and $2.99 through Amazon’s Matchbook Program
Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Waterstones (UK/Europe) | BAM! | Indigo Books
About the Book (Amazon)
Thomas makes speed-of-light connections that are both dazzling and understandably dismaying. To wit, his conception of Trumplandia is admittedly and justifiably bleak (think Kafka on a bad day), a landscape characterized by racism, misogyny, exploitation, homophobia, and intolerance. Even though his contempt for Trump is obvious, Thomas focuses on arguments not personalities–arguments used by Trump and his followers to misleadingly frighten and confuse people. The world we are consequently inhabiting is indeed a “post-truth” one, to borrow Thomas’s phrase. The otherwise Stygian gloom of Trumplandia is periodically eased by well-known visitors–James Baldwin, Langston Hughes, Barbara Kingsolver, and Kurt Vonnegut (among others), whose insights Thomas cites as a way to highlight a different and much preferable conception of humanity and human/humane relationships. Given the light that these and other authors can shine on perfidy, it should come as no surprise that Trump doesn’t read books–but anyone interested in opposing his actions and ideas should read this one by P.L. Thomas.
About Paul Thomas
Paul Thomas, a recipient of the NCTE’s George Orwell Award, engages the public in the most profound and controversial topics of our day, exposing the terrifying truths of the times in which we live. His commentaries have been published in AlterNet, The Conversation UK/US, Room for Debate (The New York Times), The Answer Sheet (The Washington Post), The Guardian (UK), Truthout, Education Week, The Daily Censored, OpEdNews, The State (Columbia, SC), The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, NC), The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) and The Greenville News (Greenville, SC).
His scholarly work has been published in major journals—English Journal, English Education, Souls, Notes on American Literature, Journal of Educational Controversy, Journal of Teaching Writing, and others. He has published books on Barbara Kingsolver, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin; and his recent books include Ignoring Poverty in the U.S. (Information Age Publishing, 2012), Parental Choice? (Information Age Publishing, 2010), Becoming and Being a Teacher (Peter Lang USA, 2013), De-Testing and De-Grading Schools (Peter Lang USA, 2013) and Social Context Reform(Routledge, 2014).
He taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. He has worked on major committees with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), is a column editor for English Journal published by NCTE, and currently serves as NCTE Council Historian (2013-2015). He is the series editor for the Critical Literacy Teaching Series: Challenging Authors and Genres (Sense Publishers), in which he authored the first volume—Challenging Genres: Comics and Graphic Novels (2010)—and co-edited a volume on James Baldwin (2014). His work can be followed at Radical Eyes for Equity (blog) and @plthomasEdD on twitter.