Barnstorming Ohio To Understand America
The question of America’s identity has rarely been more urgent than it is now, and no American place has ever been more reliable in its illumination of that identity than Ohio.
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Award-winning author and essayist David Giffels, a lifelong resident of the “bellwether” state, dubbed “the bard of Akron” by the New York Times, has spent a quarter century writing and thinking about what it means to live in what he calls “an all-American buffet, an uncannily complete everyplace.”
As the historic 202 presidential election approaches, Barnstorming Ohio is Giffels’s account of a year on Ohio’s roads, visiting people and places that offer valuable reflections of the national questions and concerns, as well as astounding electoral clairvoyance: Since 1896, Ohio has accurately chosen the winner in twenty-nine of thirty-one presidential elections–more than any other state. No Republican has ever made it to the White House without winning Ohio.
Barnstorming Ohio takes us into the living room of a man whose life was upended by General Motors’s shutdown of its Lordstown assembly plant. It offers an exclusive look at the presidential campaign of Ohio Democratic hopeful Tim Ryan. It transports us to the sodden soybean fields of farmers struggling to outlast the dual punch of a protracted trade war and historic rainfall, to an indie rock music festival in Dayton just days after a mass shooting, and to an otherworld of abandoned shopping malls as Amazon transforms them into fulfillment centers. On the lighter side, Giffels makes a beer run into Ohio’s booming craft brewing industry and revisits the legend of Jim Traficant, a larger-than-life Ohio politician whom many have called the “proto-Trump.”
In a time when Americans are seeking answers, Barnstorming Ohio offers rare and carefully nuanced access to the people who have always held them.
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