Monday, December 2, 2019

Books: "Cheaters Always Win: The Story of America"

Cheaters Always Win: The Story of America
By J.M. Fenster
Twelve; hardcover, $28.00; eBook, $14.99; available Tuesday, December 3

J.M. Fenster is the award-winning author of many works of American history and commentary, including Packard: The Pride, which won several national awards; Ether Day, which won the Anesthesia Foundation prize; the New York Times bestseller Parish Priest with Doug Brinkley; the PBS documentary First Freedom; and the book Mavericks, Miracles, and Medicine, which was also a documentary on A&E.

Fenster's new book, Cheaters Always Win, is a social history of cheating and how American history - through real estate, sports, finance, academics, and of course politics - has had its unfair share of rigged results and widened the margins on its gray areas.

Drawing from the intriguing, and sometimes unbelievable, true stories of the lives of everyday Americans, Fenster traces the history of the weakening of our national ethics through the practice of cheating. From marital infidelity to financial fraud, rigged sports competitions to political corruption, nuclear weaponry to beauty pageants, nothing and no one is exempt.

Cheaters are far from being ostracized, and continue to survive and even thrive in every sphere, casting their influence over the rest of society. This is most obvious in the recent tectonic shift in our politics, where a revolution in our collective attitude toward fraudsters has ushered in a new kind of leadership.

This highly-detailed work is part history of an all-American tradition, part dissection of an ongoing national crisis, making it a smart, sardonic, and scintillating look into the practice that made America what it is today.

"Academic observers have expressed the opinion that everybody cheats." Fenster writes. "Lowlifes and barflies have made the same point. All lawyers cheat. All pitchers cheat. Everybody. That conclusion glistens with the cynicism that serves to protect academics as well as lowlifes. It so happens that I'm cynical, too. My credentials are irrefutable: I think the world stinks; I thin we insult rats when we use their name to describe people; I am blissfully at home with early-1930s movies, the ones in which all the characters are corrupt. I know the score, as they used to say, circa 1933. Yet I'm unable to make the statement that everybody cheats, being that I'm tinged with the same sentimentality that causes many people to point to their parents as the two individuals on earth who absolutely, resolutely never could have cheated on each other or anyone else."

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