What's the Matter with Kansas?

How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

Thomas Frank, with a new afterword

Holt Paperbacks

Winner of the Midwest Booksellers' Choice Award

A veteran author and journalist, and a native Kansan and former conservative, Thomas Frank here explores such fundamental American riddles as: Why do so many Americans vote against their economic and social interests? Where's the outrage over all the recent corporate thievery? Why do illusionary slights to the Ten Commandments trouble some people more than do the prospects of falling wages, or monopoly power, or the destruction of their very way of life?

This timely, well-written, and widely acclaimed book—equal parts brilliant political analysis and wry, readable memoir, and already deemed by some a contemporary classic—fully investigates these questions by examining the conservative revolution in the author's home state over the last several decades. Kansas, which has lately drawn the astonished attention of the world for its unlikely skirmishes over abortion and homosexuality, is in step with much of mid-America, Frank explains, in that its economic losers are even more committed to the Republican agenda than are its winners. Indeed, the Sunflower State's low-wage slaughterhouse workers and struggling farm-town citizens today far outdo its real-estate millionaires and prosperous telecom executives in their dedication to a political program that can only wind up harming them. How, and why, did this happen—in Kansas and elsewhere throughout the United States?

What's the Matter with Kansas? is a vivid, refreshingly witty portrait of an upside-down country where blue-collar patriots recite the Pledge while they strangle their life chances; where farmers cast votes for an economic order that will eventually push them off the land; and where a group of right-wing frat boys, lawyers, and CEOs has managed to convince the world that it speaks on behalf of America's common people.


Read an Excerpt


What's the Matter with America?

The poorest county in America isn't in Appalachia or the Deep South. It is on the Great Plains, a region of struggling ranchers and dying farm towns, and in the election of 2000 the Republican candidate for president, George W. Bush, carried it by a majority of greater than 80 percent.1

This puzzled me when I first read about it, as it puzzles many of the people I know. For us it is the Democrats that are the party of workers, of the poor, of the weak and the victimized. Understanding this, we think, is basic; it is part of the ABCs




  • What's the Matter with Kansas? - Trailer

    Based on the Thomas Frank's best-seller, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" shows how Kansas transformed from an outpost of radicalism to a bastion of hard-core conservatism. Unforgettable characters and their stories shed new light on our nation's political divide.



Praise for What's the Matter with Kansas?

What op-ed writers across the political spectrum have said about Thomas Frank and
What's the Matter with Kansas?:

"The best political book of the year."
-Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, November 3, 2004

"Frank is a formidable controversialist-imagine Michael Moore with a trained brain and an intellectual conscience."
-George F. Will, The Washington Post, July 8, 2004

-Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times, July 1, 2004

"Mr. Frank re-injects economic-class issues into the debate with sardonic vehemence."
-Jerome Weeks, The Dallas Morning News, June 27, 2004

"A searing piece of work . . . one of the most important political writings in years."
-The Boston Globe

"Dazzlingly insightful and wonderfully sardonic . . . Frank has made much sense of the world in this book."
-Chicago Tribune

"Impassioned, compelling . . . Frank's books mark him as one of the most insightful thinkers of the twenty-first century, four years into it."
-Houston Chronicle

"Very funny and very painful . . . Add another literary gold star after Thomas Frank's name."
-San Francisco Chronicle

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Thomas Frank, with a new afterword

  • Thomas Frank is the author of Pity the Billionaire, The Wrecking Crew, What's the Matter with Kansas?, and One Market Under God. A former opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, Frank is the founding editor of The Baffler and a monthly columnist for Harper's. He lives outside Washington, D.C.

  • Thomas Frank Jane Magellanic
    Thomas Frank


Available Formats and Book Details

What's the Matter with Kansas?

How Conservatives Won the Heart of America

Thomas Frank, with a new afterword




Holt Paperbacks