The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War, by Jeff Sharlet
A gift from my son, who heard the author interviewed on NPR, this book is 333 pages and includes numerous small to large B&W photos. The author has written six previous books and edited one. This book is difficult to read. My notes on the text state "hard to follow" or similar comments at several places. It is disjointed at times, but generally highlights the tragic death of Ashli Babbitt along with her radicalization into a true believer in extreme conspiracy tenets when she attempted to crash violently through the main door to the Capitol Building during the January 6 riot. She has become a Talis(wo)man for conspiracy beliefs among true believers in extreme elements in the U.S.
One core tenet is that the election of 2020 was stolen, even though every single post-election investigation and voting review has confirmed the results. Many of the most contested results were in normally Republican states such as Georgia and were conducted by Republican Governors and elected officials, yet these do not satisfy the conspiracy believers, fueled by continuing false claims by Donald Trump. As references to Ms. Babbitt continue through the book, several powerful evangelical preachers are featured with their "Praise Services" heavy on emotion and rock and roll music along with conservative political messaging.
Former President Trump is characterized by his lack of putting much of anything in writing, speaking in a way that is understood by those he wants to reach, yet is done in a way that is hard to pin down - spiritual truths, "true meanings" - and things to be feared. The "Trumpocene" has its own sign (index finger and thumb touch, with the middle three fingers splayed), recognizable as a "WP" symbol, for White Power. At numerous Trump rallies and evangelical sessions across the U.S, the author watches the Prosperity Gospel and Evangelical Coalition of the Willing in full swing, with the enemies clearly understood to include Liberal TV Networks, "The Media," Journalists, and Gays.
The author interfaces with many at numerous evangelical and political rallies, and reports on the "undertow" of discontent and combination of violent actions (the attack on the Capitol and death of Ashley Babbitt) and rising religious fervor. He believes a civil war is underway - not a shooting war like the last, but an "undertow movement" with gerrymandered political pockets of witnesses, and a deep-seated psychological operation.