Better Off Without 'Em

A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession

About The Book

Chuck Thompson—dubbed "savagely funny" by The New York Times and "wickedly entertaining" by the San Francisco Chronicle—spent two years traveling the American South to determine whether, as he’d long suspected but not yet proven, the whole country might be better off letting Dixieland make good on its two-hundred-years-old threat to secede. The result is a long overdue and serious inquiry into national divides that is deliberately provocative and uproariously funny while making a compelling case for "a kind of no-fault divorce for nation-states: no hard feelings, just two adults who can’t quite make the relationship work, shaking hands and walking away" (The Oxford American).

About The Author

Corky Miller

Chuck Thompson is the supervising editor for CNN.com Travel. His other books include the comic memoirs Smile When You’re Lying and To Hellholes and Back, and his writing has appeared in Outside, Esquire, and The New Republic, among other publications.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (August 14, 2012)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781451616675

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Raves and Reviews

“Hilarious, dirty, and incendiary, [Better Off Without ‘Em] is a book that will prompt guffaws in some, an urge to shoot it through the spine in others, and everyone to agree that it will only stoke the election-year bonfire.”

– Vanity Fair

“(Thompson) is serious about his argument and has more than enough ammunition.”

– New York Times

“For critics who lament the homogenization of the United States, Thompson offers several memorable scenes with distinct regional flavor. . . . Underneath all the macho bombast, there are some serious ideas at play. In a chapter on the condition of education in the South, Thompson writes passionately and persuasively about the disastrous long-term effects that de facto segregation and systematic underfunding of public schools will have on the US economy.”

– Boston Globe

“[Thompson] is awesomely talented and wickedly funny.”

– Philadelphia Inquirer

“Funny in the mode of P.J. O’Rourke and Joe Queenan.”

– Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“[Thompson’s] solution is a kind of no-fault divorce for nation-states: no hard feelings, just two adults who can’t quite make the relationship work, shaking hands and walking away.”

– Oxford American

“Reading and hearing about the hue and cry from thousands for secession since the election, with Texas leading the pack, I highly recommend the book Better Off Without 'Em: A Northern Manifesto For Southern Secession by Chuck Thompson. He presents an intriguing and plausible plan, with a touch of humor, that just may be the only way out of the political poison that has spread across this country and endangers the future for all of us. Plus it's a darn good history lesson.”

– Boulder Daily Camera

“As if Kevin Phillips’s American Theocracy were being narrated by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi . . . Viciously funny and thoroughly tasteless, it’s an easy and cathartic read for anyone fed up with the Confederate influence on the national discourse. But like Taibbi or Bill Maher, Thompson isn’t aiming just to entertain; he wants readers to take his underlying argument seriously.”

– Washington Monthly

“Portland nonfiction author Chuck Thompson’s Better Off Without ’Em: A Northern Manifesto for Southern Secession gets the election season’s regional angst off to a tartly observed start.”

– Portland Monthly

“Hilariously over-the-top . . . Thompson's mix of vitriol, bewilderment, humor, and research holds the seemingly disparate elements together and makes for an entertaining, if absurdly hyperbolic, read. . . . Thought-provoking.”

– Publishers Weekly

“Often thoughtful, always irreverent . . . a raucous road trip through the South with a funny, informed, sardonic and opinionated Yankee.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“A convincing case that the American South is essentially a separate country that negatively affects the rest of the United States. . . . Everyone jokes about secession, and some politicianslike Texas Gov. Rick Perryhave even threatened it. But what if it actually happened, Mr. Thompson wondered? . . . Better Off Without ‘Em combines scathing humor, caustic opinion, colorful travel writing, jaw-dropping interviews and solid academic research in an entertaining and thought-provoking book that sticks to the ribs like cheese grits and pecan pie.”

– Fort Myers Weekly

“An entertaining and worthwhile read . . . [Thompson] amasses data, and somewhere in between the fire and the brimstone, plans of serious argument are laid down.”

– DailyKos.com

“A fun, engaging read— let’s call it speculative nonfiction—and would make for a fine night of beer-fueled argument.”

– Wonkette.com

“Thank you for the copy of Better Off Without ‘Em, but I'm afraid it's New York and San Francisco that I think should secede.”

– P.J. O’Rourke

“Fry yourself some grits, unfurl that Confederate flag, and read this gem of a book. Chuck Thompson doesn’t have a politically correct bone in his Yankee body. He skewers the South mercilessly, and hilariously. And backs up his barbs with facts. Lots of facts. Better Off Without ‘Em is sure to set hearts racing, on both sides of the Mason Dixon line.”

– Eric Weiner, New York Times bestselling author of The Geography of Bliss

“A surprisingly worthwhile read . . . A confrontational, extreme—and occasionally convincing—argument for cutting the South loose, peppered with hilarious anecdotes.”

– ShelfAwareness.com

"A fun yet pointed case for splitting the American South away from the rest of the US, offering fiery charges combined iwth meticulously researched detail into a proposition secretly entertained by many. . . . No matter what side of the line you're on, Better Off Without 'Em makes for a thought-provoking, winning analysis."

– California Bookwatch

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