Strangers in Their Own Land

Anger and Mourning on the American Right

The National Book Award Finalist and New York Times bestseller that became a guide and balm for a country struggling to understand the election of Donald Trump

“A generous but disconcerting look at the Tea Party. . . . This is a smart, respectful and compelling book.” —Jason DeParle, The New York Times Book Review

Finalist, National Book Award 2016
One of “6 Books to Understand Trump’s Win” according to the New York Times the day after the election

When Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election, a bewildered nation turned
to Strangers in Their Own Land to understand what Trump voters were thinking when they cast their ballots. Arlie Hochschild, one of the most influential sociologists of her generation, had spent the preceding five years immersed in the community around Lake Charles, Louisiana, a Tea Party stronghold. As Jedediah Purdy put it in the New Republic, “Hochschild is fascinated by how people make sense of their lives. . . . [Her] attentive, detailed portraits . . . reveal a gulf between Hochchild’s ‘strangers in their own land’ and a new elite.” Already a favorite common read book in communities and on campuses across the country and called “humble and important” by David Brooks and “masterly” by Atul Gawande, Hochschild’s book has been lauded by Noam Chomsky, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, and countless others.

The paperback edition features a new afterword by the author reflecting on the election of Donald Trump and the other events that have unfolded both in Louisiana and around the country since the hardcover edition was published, and also includes a readers’ group guide at the back of the book.


“A must-read.”
“Satisfying . . . [Hochschild’s] analysis is overdue at a time when questions of policy and legislation and even fact have all but vanished from the public discourse, replaced by debates about the candidate’s ‘temperament,’ and brand.”
—Nathaniel Rich, The New York Review of Books
“Hochschild comes to know people—and her own nation—better than they know themselves.”
—Heather Mallick, The Toronto Star
“In her attempt to climb over the ‘empathy wall’ and truly understand the emotional lives of her political adversaries, Arlie Hochschild gives us a vital roadmap to bridging the deep divides in our political landscape and renewing the promise of American democracy. A must-read for any political American who isn’t ready to give up just yet.”
—Joan Blades, co-founder of,, and
“Up close there is a depth to the concerns of Hochschild’s subjects. . . . They are concerned about pollution, and about the social decay that we see most vividly in the opioid epidemic. They are aware . . . of facts on the ground.”
—Benjamin Wallace-Wells, The New Yorker
“Hochschild is fascinated by how people make sense of their lives. . . . [She] conveys that she genuinely likes the people she meets, communicating their dignity and values. . . . These attentive, detailed portraits . . . reveal a gulf between Hochschild’s ‘strangers in their own land’ and a new elite.”
—Jedediah Purdy, The New Republic
“The anger and hurt of the author’s interviewees is intelligible to all. In today’s political climate, this may be invaluable.”
The Economist
“We are indebted to Hochschild for her patience, intelligence and generosity of spirit.”
—Theo Anderson, In These Times
“[Hochschild’s] connection and kindness to the people she meets is what makes this book so powerful.”
—Marion Winik, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“With the clear-headed empathy Arlie Russell Hochschild is famous for, she explored the central paradox of the political activists in the heart of ‘cancer alley’: they understand that the chemical and oil companies have destroyed their environment and sometimes their lives, but they remain ardent defenders of free market capitalism. There could not be a more important topic in current American politics, nor a better person to dissect it. Every page—every story and individual—is fascinating, and the emerging analysis is revelatory.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed and Living with a Wild God
“Hochschild journeys into a far different world than her liberal academic enclave of Berkeley, into the heartland of the nation’s political right, in order to understand how the conservative white working class sees America. With compassion and empathy, she discovers the narrative that gives meaning and expression to their lives—and which explains their political convictions, along with much else. Anyone who wants to understand modern America should read this captivating book.”
—Robert B. Reich, chancellor’s professor of public policy, University of California, Berkeley
“Arlie Russell Hochschild’s work has never been more timely or more necessary, from the resurgence of interest in emotional labor to this deep, empathetic dive into the heart of the Right. Strangers in Their Own Land does what few dare to do—it takes seriously the role of feelings in politics.”
—Sarah Jaffe, author of Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt
“If the great political question of our time can be summarized in the two words, ‘Donald Trump,’ the answer is to be found in Hochschild’s brilliant new book. Hochschild has crafted an absorbing tale full of richly drawn, complicated characters who come bearing their own fascinating histories. Together they offer a compelling and lucid portrait of what had seemed a bewildering political moment. A powerful, imaginative, necessary book, arriving not a moment too soon.”
—Mark Danner, author of Spiral: Trapped in the Forever War
Strangers in Their Own Land is extraordinary for its consistent empathy and the attention it pays to the emotional terrain of politics. It is billed as a book for this moment, but it will endure.”
—Gabriel Thompson, Newsday
“The importance of emotion in politics, not just facts and figures, [Hochschild] writes convincingly, is critical to understand . . . a point politicians of all stripes would be smart to remember.”
—Felice Belman, The Boston Globe
“Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land will certainly be among the most timely of books in this moment of seeming near apocalypse . . . remarkable.”
—Sean McCann, The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Hochschild has gone about her investigation diligently and with an appealing humility.”
—Karen Olsson, Bookforum
“A well-told chronicle of an ambitious sociological project of significant current importance.”
Kirkus Reviews

News and Reviews

Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land Named to Short List for National Book Award

The National Book Foundation announced on October 6 that Arlie Hochschild’s 

Democracy Now!

Hochschild speaks about what drives Trump supporters in conversation with Juan González and Amy Goodman for Democracy Now!

The New York Times

The New York Times lists Strangers in Their Own Land as one of their "9 New Books We Recommend This Week"

The New York Times

The New York Times lists Strangers in Their Own Land in their "Reader’s Guide to This Fall’s Big Book Awards"


Books by Arlie Russell Hochschild

Stolen Pride
Loss, Shame, and the Rise of the Right

Arlie Russell Hochschild

Goodreads Reviews