‘The theme that runs through this memoir and portrait of one aspect of American social life in the postwar years, is the evolution of the white underclass. After World War II, Americans were sold the myth of endless prosperity, when, Joe Bageant maintains, the reality was that more than 20 million migrated from rural America (shrinking the farming population from 44 per cent to 5 per cent) and became the unacknowledged white poor of America. This is their tale, told by one who was there. And it is told with great compassion, in simple, clear prose that has the immediacy of speech ... Shades of Studs Terkel.’
‘ ... we get to hear the voice of the American underclass ... Bageant may write like a dream but he hasn't forgotten where he came from ... Cutting through the corporatist flim-flam, Bageant describes just what trouble America is in.’
Simon Hughes, Australian Financial Review Magazine
‘Equal parts social commentary and evocative memoir, this book exposes the vast and growing inequity between the economic mismanagers and the working poor in the US ... Don't presume this is in any way dour soapboxery: Bageant is an effortless humourist. And his reminiscences lead to moments of sheer literary pleasure.’ FOUR STARS
Melissa Cranenburgh, Big Issue
‘For all of its bitterness, the book is lifted by Bageant's unique and personable voice. Even in the darkest chapters, it retains a folksy charm and an admirably black wit. It's rare for such a downer of a book to make the reader grin so often.’
‘Illuminating and frequently touching ... Bageant just wants us to think. To remember. To lift the veil of collective amnesia. To see.’
Stephen Webb, Insights
‘Joe Bageant has a wonderful ability to embed hard social, political and economic facts into the warp and weft of stories of homespun characters, close to the earth they plow that speaks thru them.
It's not true that a good book is one you "can't put it down." I put down Rainbow Pie several times — sometimes even on a page — to savor the language and admire the skyline, and dig deep into the loam of characters, marvel at the panoply of facts marshalled along the way.
Rainbow Pie is touching in the way that Thoreau touches us, in its ideas about place and "abidance," natural and superficial worlds.’
Gary Corseri, Literary scholar, arts critic Salon.com, Counterpunch.com
‘Joe Bageant doesn’t mince his words in this angry requiem for the dignity of the white US working classes. Subtitled A Memoir Of Redneck America, Rainbow Pie is a terse, provocative book ... As the midterm elections approach and a solid proportion of the US ‘middle class’ seems to be gearing up to vote for the sort of lurid right-wingers that baffle even conservative Europeans, Bageant offers some plausible suggestions as to why things have come to this.’
Andrzej Lukowski, Metro.co.uk
‘With humour, compassion and rage, he explores plight of America's white "redneck" underclass.’ Four stars
‘This is a deeply felt memoir, written by a man who loves his country, is proud of its past and fears for its future. It is intensely readable and more than a little disturbing.’
David Christie, Newcastle Herald
‘Bageant is a US social commentator with a unique angle — he was born a redneck, in rural America. Now he is a middle-class intellectual and an acerbic commentator on his beloved land. He became famous with Deer Hunting With Jesus, an analysis of poor, white, conservative Americans that was written with Steinbeck-like compassion and observation. He saw his subjects as victims of rabid capitalism and evangelical religion. Rainbow Pie continues in this vein, a memoir of his family ... A powerful book.’
‘[Rainbow Pie is] more an essay on political economy, lavishly illustrated with anecdotes from five generations of his own family, than a life story.’
‘Most Australians look upon the US with wide-eyed bewilderment. Why do Americans think public healthcare will lead to death panels? How did they ever believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the attack on the World Trade Centre? What craziness leads so many to believe Barack Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim? Why, over and over again, do they appear to fight against their own best interests? If you want answers to these questions then this dissection of the US's "white underclass" is superbly insightful.’
Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald 'Pick of the Week'
‘An amazing read. What Harper Lee had to hide behind fiction to write, Joe Bageant has done straight-up, with all the bones showing. This is a majestic work.’
Bob Kincaid, Head-On Radio Network