10/5/2004

Contact: Lisa Eitner, Oread Books, (785) 864-4431

'What's the Matter With Kansas?' author Thomas Frank to speak at KU, sign book

LAWRENCE -- The author of a book that used Kansas as metaphor for the rest of the country in order to examine why so many working- and middle-class Americans consistently act against their self-interests will give a lecture and sign his book Oct. 19 at the University of Kansas.

Thomas Frank, author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, in the Kansas Union Ballroom. His remarks will be followed by discussion and a book signing. His KU appearance is sponsored by Oread Books and is free and open to the public.

In his book, published in June by Metropolitan Books (Henry Holt & Co.), Frank examines the country's growing rancor against the so-called liberal elite, focusing on the culture of pop conservatism -- the best sellers, radio talk shows and punditry -- that has resulted in politics more concerned with populist solidarity than with questions of policy.

Frank relates how Kansas, once famous for its radicalism, eventually became one of the most conservative places in America, making headlines with anti-abortion demonstrations and uprisings against the teaching of evolution. A one-time Reagan youth, Frank now argues that the Democrats must engage the Republicans on economic issues to resurrect an alliance with the working class.

Frank was born in Kansas City, Mo., and graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in Prairie Village, Kan. He attended KU for one year, then transferred to the University of Virginia, graduating in 1987. In 1988 he and a group of friends launched The Baffler, a journal of cultural criticism that he continues to edit.

He received a doctorate in American history from the University of Chicago in 1994. His dissertation later became the book "The Conquest of Cool," about the infatuation of certain branches of industry with the counterculture of the 1960s. He has contributed to publications such as Harper's magazine, The Nation and the Chicago Reader. In 2000 he published "One Market Under God," a book about "market populism," the notion that free markets do the will of the people. Frank lives in Washington, D.C.

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