Journalist Jeff Sharlet on America's slow civil war

a man and a book side by side
Journalist Jeff Sharlet sees a slow civil war unfolding in America, which he details in his new book "The Undertow."
Photo courtesy of Julia Rabig, book cover courtesy of W.W. Norton

When Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene proposed the United States would benefit from a “national divorce,” many scoffed and labeled her statements as incendiary pot-stirring.

Journalist Jeff Sharlet was not one of them. After traveling the country for more than a dozen years, reporting on the intersection between religion and far-right politics, he believes remarks like Rep. Greene’s should be taken seriously and at face value.

His latest book, “The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War,” details what he found as he traveled through states like Wisconsin and Nebraska, talking to ordinary people who love fishing and their neighbors — and also believe another civil war is inevitable and even necessary to correct decades of “immoral decadence.”

MPR News host Kerri Miller talks with Sharlet about his reporting on this week’s Big Books and Bold Ideas. It’s a sobering conversation about the people Sharlet met and the undercurrent of fascism he sees rippling across the country.

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