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Bye Bye, Miss American Empire

Neighborhood Patriots, Backcountry Rebels, and their Underdog Crusades to Redraw America's Political Map

It's been almost a century and a half since a critical mass of Americans believed that secession was an American birthright. But breakaway movements large and small are rising up across the nation. From Vermont to Alaska, activists driven by all manner of motives want to form new states-and even new nations.

So, just what's happening out there? The American Empire is dying, says Bill Kauffman in this incisive, eye-opening investigation into modern-day secession-the next radical idea poised to enter mainstream discourse. And those rising up to topple that empire are a surprising mix of conservatives, liberals, regionalists, and independents who-from movement to movement-may share few political beliefs but who have one thing in common: a sense that our nation has grown too large, and too powerfully centralized, to stay true to its founding principles.

Bye Bye, Miss American Empire traces the historical roots of the secessionist spirit, and introduces us to the often radical, sometimes quixotic, and highly charged movements that want to decentralize and re-localize power.

During the George W. Bush administration, frustrated liberals talked secession back to within hailing distance of the margins of national debate, a place it had not occupied since 1861. Now, secessionist voices on the left and right and everywhere in between are amplifying. Writes Kauffman, "The noise is the sweet hum of revolution, of subjects learning how to be citizens, of people shaking off . . . their Wall Street and Pentagon overlords and taking charge of their lives once more."

Engaging, illuminating, even sometimes troubling, Bye Bye, Miss American Empire is a must-read for those taking the pulse of the nation.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

"History doesn't stand still, no matter how many times you sing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' Bill Kauffman brings an antic verve to the sobering question of America's ability to hang together as one nation. He correctly perceives that the end of one story is the beginning of a whole new one."--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency and World Made By Hand

Booklist-
It's not exclusive to those nostalgic for the Confederacy: secession has adherents from sea to shining sea. Kauffman samples proponents historical and contemporary of separation from the Union, discovering as bewildering a cast of constitutional autodidacts, rural rebels, and pastoral potheads as will be found in the current-affairs genre. The homogeneity within such heterogeneity is a view that the tax-collecting, regulation-issuing, and expeditionary-force-dispatching power centers of Washington or Sacramento are inimical to Jeffersonian self-governance. Do-it-yourself democrats march through Kauffman's pages, advocates for a riven New York, a fissiparous Kansas, three Californias, or a U.S. truncated by a (Second) Republic of Vermont. The don't-tread-on-me spirit assuredly attracts its share of mad tinfoil hatters and ornery independents, but there are also plenty of solid-citizen types here. Kauffman's exploration in political heresy is an amiable, vocabulary-bending jeremiad that exalts the local over the global, extols the two-lane road over the interstate highway, and simply defies a Left-Right dichotomy. An entertaining rant for the political set.

Publishers Weekly-
Throughout American history, the right of states to secede has been considered alternately sacrosanct and treacherous, and despite the Civil War, the idea has never quite left the American mindset. Modern secessionist movements appear periodically (an independent Texas or Vermont; a separate South; calls from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska to split from the union; and movements to divide large states like California and New York). Kauffman, whose politics are "localist, decentralist, libertarian," offers an unabashedly pro-secessionist slant to his reports on the many movements, but readers can discern, through all his editorializing, a thoughtfully researched exploration of legitimate grievances and possible redresses against large government entities. Kauffman is a staunch advocate of local government and minimal federal involvement and that stance colors all he writes, but he's also intelligent and extremely funny; even people who disagree with his politics will embrace his voice, and history and political science enthusiasts will find this thought-provoking and intensely enjoyable. Kauffman may not cover all the nitty-gritty of secession (diplomacy, energy policy, and interstate highways to name a few), but readers get a strong sense that this movement isn't nearly as antiquated as our textbooks would have us believe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Kauffman

Bill Kauffman

Bill Kauffman is the author of nine books, including Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, which won the 2003 national "Sense of Place" award from Writers & Books, Bye Bye, Miss American Empire, and Look Homeward, America, which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006. He writes frequently for the Wall Street Journal and the American Conservative and lives in his native Genesee County, New York, with his family. Bill Kauffman blogs at The Front Porch Forum.

Bye Bye, Miss American Empire

Pages:336 pages
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback 9781933392806
eBook 9781603582810

Available In/Retail Price

Paperback, 336 pages, $17.95

EPUB, 336 pages, $17.95