TomDispatch: A letter to readers
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Dear TomDispatch Readers,

It's that time of year again.  I only importune you, pleading for donations, twice annually (partially because I loath getting letters like this myself).  Unfortunately, though Managing Editor Nick Turse and I run the site on a relative shoestring, money is always needed.  Hence what follows. 

I've been committed to TomDispatch now for more than 15 years. That's a long time, but I happen to think there's value in just sticking around.  As I enter my 73rd year, I'm convinced that being there matters in an American world where so many people get discouraged, pack their tents, and go home.  Most weeks of the year TomDispatch puts out three well-written, well-edited, and provocative pieces focusing on our increasingly bizarre American world.  Those reports -- I hope -- help you, our readers, rethink and reimagine all our lives (and what needs to be done to make them better).  I think -- I hope -- the site is always fresh.  I think -- I hope -- that the pieces break new ground and aren't like anything you're likely to read in the tweet-obsessed mainstream media of the Trump era.

Now, let me admit to something: through much of the 2016 election season, TomDispatch always left open the possibility that Donald Trump could end up in the White House, and yet in all honesty I never imagined -- how could I? -- what the experience might be like. In that campaign period, however, I did point out that he was the only "declinist" candidate for president. (All the rest were swearing that the U.S. was the most exceptional, indispensable country on the planet with the "finest fighting force in history.")  Who else paid any attention to that "again" in his winning slogan?  I also suggested that, for many Americans left in the lurch in this country's heartland, voting for Donald Trump might be the satisfying equivalent of sending a suicide bomber into the White House.  I think both points are still on target.

I also continue to believe that President Trump isn't an anomaly, but the unsettling result of the last 15 years of America's never-ending wars, its growing inequality gap, its ever-expanding 1% politics, the rise of the national security state as our fourth branch of government, and so on.  At TD, quite a crew of writers continues to delve into such themes, including a group of ex-military (and in one case still active military) men who offer a uniquely critical view of America's wars and conflicts. 

In addition, TomDispatch now has its own increasingly popular line of books.  This year, our publication program includes John Feffer's devastating dystopian novel, Splinterlands; historian and Pulitzer Prize winner John Dower's The Violent American Century; and upcoming this fall, Alfred McCoy's In the Shadows of the American Empire: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power (Kirkus Reviews: "Sobering reading for geopolitics mavens and Risk aficionados alike, offering no likely path beyond decline and fall").  Next year, we expect to have a book from that superb TD writer Rebecca Gordon on America's "forever wars," a collection of my own recent work, and a unique working-class novel set during the foreclosure crisis of 2007-2008 by Beverly Gologorsky, which another Pulitzer Prize winner, Elizabeth Strout, has already described this way: "Here is a story that cuts to the core of the way things are, and the way they can -- all of a sudden -- become.  You heart might be ripped out by this book, but it will get placed back inside with a larger capacity to love and beat on -- what a book, indeed."    

If I seem like I'm bragging a little, I guess I am.  But I'm proud of TomDispatch and its particular form of resistance to a deeply disturbed world.  Of course, all of this is just a wind-up to… well, you know where I'm going!  I'm going to ask you for dough.  And the reason is simple enough.  While we may run the site modestly indeed, there are payments to our tiny staff (who perform miracles) and to authors whom, I firmly believe, should never write for free, and so many other expenses.  It all adds up far too quickly and there's an extra expense coming soon.  TD is an old site in a rapidly developing online world.  It desperately needs to be redesigned and updated and by year's end it will be.  And that, it turns out, is expensive as hell. 

Keep in mind that TomDispatch has no fancy schemes for raising money to support itself.  It doesn't even take advertising.  It has only one significant resource when it comes to financing: you.  And you, the readers of this site, have delivered, year in, year out.   

Your generosity really does make all the difference.  It's not an exaggeration to say that you are keeping us afloat in the worst of times -- and boy, is it the worst of times!  So, as we face our bizarre president, our resident militarists, and an administration that's catapulted itself into plutocratic heaven, should you find yourself with a few extra bucks and an urge to lend a hand, please visit our donation page and think about what you might give.  As always, we have quite a range of signed, personalized books on offer, including Splinterlands, in return for a donation of $100 or more ($125 if you live outside the United States), not to mention books by Nick and me.

To those of you who have already contributed this year, I can't begin to thank you enough for your support.  If who haven't (and can truly afford to), I do hope you'll consider it.  My eternal thanks to all of you. 


Tom (Engelhardt)

    • Tom Engelhardt
    • Tom Engelhardt created and runs the TomDispatch website, a project of The Nation Institute. His most recent book is The American Way of War: How Bush's War Became Obama's. He is also the author of a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture, and of a novel, The Last Days...

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