I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

3.67 avg rating
( 9,140 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781439184509: I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)

One-of-a-kind cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author Chuck Klosterman “offers up great facts, interesting cultural insights, and thought-provoking moral calculations in this look at our love affair with the anti-hero” (New York magazine).

Chuck Klosterman, “The Ethicist” for The New York Times Magazine, has walked into the darkness. In I Wear the Black Hat, he questions the modern understanding of villainy. When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying, and why are we so obsessed with saying it? How does the culture of malevolence operate? What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don’t we see Bernhard Goetz the same way we see Batman? Who is more worthy of our vitriol—Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson’s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still haunted by some kid he knew for one week in 1985?

Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and imaginative hypotheticals, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the antihero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). As the Los Angeles Times notes: “By underscoring the contradictory, often knee-jerk ways we encounter the heroes and villains of our culture, Klosterman illustrates the passionate but incomplete computations that have come to define American culture—and maybe even American morality.” I Wear the Black Hat is a rare example of serious criticism that’s instantly accessible and really, really funny.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2013: Name one writer who could drop Eazy-E, Hitler, and Linda Tripp into the same conversation and spark neither rage nor derision. I count Chuck Klosterman and maybe no one else. But that's what his new collection does: I Wear the Black Hat examines "villains" of all stripes and scale, as well as our varied (and often counterintuitive) reactions to them. For example: If Batman were real, would he be any less reviled than Bernhard Goetz, the 1980s NYC subway vigilante? (Probably not--he'd be a scary freak.) Why would D.B. Cooper, a hijacker who parachuted into the night sky over Washington state with 200 thousand dollars in stolen money, become a legend and a folk hero? (Because he seemed smooth and he wore a suit.) Is Don Henley evil? (That’s a personal decision.) The subject is serious--at first blush there’s nothing funny about murderers, tyrants, and Al Davis--but Klosterman's pop culture sensibilities and skewed vistas offer interesting angles into what makes some bad guys bad and other bad guys good, while his deceivingly lightweight style keeps things brisk and entertaining. Instead of getting mad at what might seem glib or impertinent, you admire the audacity of the observation and wish that you’d thought of this yourself (or at least that you had written it down). The question of who could do this might be irrelevant; how many would even try? --Jon Foro

Guest Review of I Wear the Black Hat

By Rob Sheffield

Nobody investigates American culture with the ferocity of Chuck Klosterman. It’s impossible to imagine any writer who even could have invented Klosterman as a fictional character, because no other writer can come close to matching his ear for the way Americans love to argue. I Wear the Black Hat is his study of villains, ripping into moral questions with the same fervor he brings to any other topic. Who else loves an argument this passionately? And what could be more American than loving an argument? Reading I Wear The Black Hat is like wandering into a saloon, taking the barstool next to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and getting sucked into a marathon philosophical debate over Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s cameo in Airplane!

Black Hat is his most wide-ranging, provocative, unhinged and hilariously contentious book yet. In “The Ethicist,” the column he writes for the New York Times, Klosterman addresses his readers’ everyday moral dilemmas, but here he branches into broader questions of good and evil. What is a villain? What makes a villain different from a bad guy, a crook, an antihero? Why does the Dude hate the Eagles? Why do kids relate to Luke Skywalker while their parents prefer Darth Vader?

It’s a rogue’s gallery of villains, ingeniously paced to keep you guessing who’s coming up next. Some of these villains are historical figures, like Machiavelli or Stalin. Others are modern legends, like the 1970s skyjacker D.B. Cooper. Some are totally fictional, like the mustache-twirling cartoon Snidely Whiplash. And one is Hitler, just because people kept disagreeing about whether he should include a Hitler chapter. He digs into the tangled ethical legacies of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, Jimmy Page and Aleister Crowley, Batman and Bernhard Goetz, N.W.A. and the Oakland Raiders. He also notes how President Obama has called Omar his favorite character on The Wire, “thus making Obama the first sitting president to express admiration for a fictional homosexual who killed dozens of people with a shotgun.”

As always, Klosterman mixes cerebral quibbles with his own crackpot junk-culture erudition, like some kind of demon spawn sired by Schopenhauer and C. C. DeVille. He always finds a way to cast some new light on artifacts that are hidden in plain sight. For instance, most people have heard of The Starr Report, and have a vague sense of its historical impact. But who has actually read it lately? Who remembers details like the way Monica Lewinsky gave Bill Clinton a souvenir mug from Santa Monica? Or O.J. Simpson’s 2007 book If I Did It, his hypothetical memoir of how he would have murdered his victims? “The existence of this book is deeply, vastly, hysterically underrated,” Klosterman notes. “I want to write something along the lines of ‘If I Did It is as bizarre as ---,’ but no cultural minutia fits in that space. Roman Polanski would have to make a biopic about Charles Manson’s music career.”

All over Black Hat, Klosterman brings a little sympathy for the devil, which is essential for a book this ambitious. And he holds it all together with his voracious intellectual curiosity, the emotional intensity of his prose, the compassion of his bad Catholic conscience. As he ruefully admits, in his discussion of Chevy Chase, “I see all of Chevy’s worst qualities in myself. But none of his good ones.”

If he ever came off as moralistic, or a talk-radio blowhard, it would sink the whole project. Yet Klosterman always seems to approach these questions out of genuine curiosity--the man would rather start an argument than settle one, much less win one. He savors the debate for its own sake. That’s what makes his voice so humane, so unmistakable. It’s also what ultimately makes Black Hat his most compelling work. Reading any random page of Black Hat--as with anything Klosterman writes, except more so--you want to argue back at every line, right down to the commas.

About the Author:

Chuck Klosterman is the New York Times bestselling author of seven previous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs; Eating the Dinosaur; Killing Yourself to Live; and The Visible Man. His debut book, Fargo Rock City, was the winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. He has written for GQ, Esquire, Spin, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Believer, and The Onion A.V. Club. He currently serves as “The Ethicist” for the New York Times Magazine and writes about sports and popular culture for ESPN.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Chuck Klosterman
Published by Simon and Schuster
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
INDOO
(Avenel, NJ, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon and Schuster. Book Condition: New. Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 143918450X

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.37
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.50
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Klosterman, Chuck
Published by Simon and Schuster (2014)
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Paperbackshop-US
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon and Schuster, 2014. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # VS-9781439184509

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 7.91
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Klosterman, Chuck
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New Paperback Quantity Available: 8
Seller:
Big River Books
(Powder Springs, GA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Paperback. Book Condition: New. Brand New! We ship daily Monday - Friday!. Bookseller Inventory # 1EY82M00ASA0

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.75
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.49
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Klosterman, Chuck
Published by Simon and Schuster (2014)
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller:
Pbshop
(Wood Dale, IL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Simon and Schuster, 2014. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book.Shipped from US within 10 to 14 business days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # IB-9781439184509

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 8.65
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Chuck Klosterman
Published by SIMON SCHUSTER, United States (2014)
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. One-of-a-kind cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author Chuck Klosterman offers up great facts, interesting cultural insights, and thought-provoking moral calculations in this look at our love affair with the anti-hero (New York magazine). Chuck Klosterman, The Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine, has walked into the darkness. In I Wear the Black Hat, he questions the modern understanding of villainy. When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying, and why are we so obsessed with saying it? How does the culture of malevolence operate? What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don t we see Bernhard Goetz the same way we see Batman? Who is more worthy of our vitriol--Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still haunted by some kid he knew for one week in 1985? Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and imaginative hypotheticals, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the antihero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). As the Los Angeles Times notes: By underscoring the contradictory, often knee-jerk ways we encounter the heroes and villains of our culture, Klosterman illustrates the passionate but incomplete computations that have come to define American culture--and maybe even American morality. I Wear the Black Hat is a rare example of serious criticism that s instantly accessible and really, really funny. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781439184509

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.12
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Klosterman, Chuck
Published by Scribner Book Company 7/1/2014 (2014)
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New Paperback or Softback Quantity Available: 7
Seller:
BargainBookStores
(Grand Rapids, MI, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner Book Company 7/1/2014, 2014. Paperback or Softback. Book Condition: New. I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined). Book. Bookseller Inventory # BBS-9781439184509

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.40
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Chuck Klosterman
Published by SIMON SCHUSTER, United States (2014)
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller:
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description SIMON SCHUSTER, United States, 2014. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. One-of-a-kind cultural critic and New York Times bestselling author Chuck Klosterman offers up great facts, interesting cultural insights, and thought-provoking moral calculations in this look at our love affair with the anti-hero (New York magazine). Chuck Klosterman, The Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine, has walked into the darkness. In I Wear the Black Hat, he questions the modern understanding of villainy. When we classify someone as a bad person, what are we really saying, and why are we so obsessed with saying it? How does the culture of malevolence operate? What was so Machiavellian about Machiavelli? Why don t we see Bernhard Goetz the same way we see Batman? Who is more worthy of our vitriol--Bill Clinton or Don Henley? What was O.J. Simpson s second-worst decision? And why is Klosterman still haunted by some kid he knew for one week in 1985? Masterfully blending cultural analysis with self-interrogation and imaginative hypotheticals, I Wear the Black Hat delivers perceptive observations on the complexity of the antihero (seemingly the only kind of hero America still creates). As the Los Angeles Times notes: By underscoring the contradictory, often knee-jerk ways we encounter the heroes and villains of our culture, Klosterman illustrates the passionate but incomplete computations that have come to define American culture--and maybe even American morality. I Wear the Black Hat is a rare example of serious criticism that s instantly accessible and really, really funny. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9781439184509

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.51
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Klosterman, Chuck
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Bookhouse COM LLC
(Philadelphia, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 143918450X. Bookseller Inventory # Z143918450XZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.96
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Klosterman, Chuck
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
BookShop4U
(PHILADELPHIA, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 143918450X. Bookseller Inventory # Z143918450XZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.96
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Klosterman, Chuck
Published by Scribner
ISBN 10: 143918450X ISBN 13: 9781439184509
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Vital Products COM LLC
(Southampton, PA, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Scribner. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 143918450X. Bookseller Inventory # Z143918450XZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
US$ 13.96
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book