FANTASYLAND by Kurt Andersen

FANTASYLAND

How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
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KIRKUS REVIEW

When did Americans come to shun reality? When did the American experiment become a congeries of solipsisms?

“As I pass by fish in barrels,” writes Studio 360 host Andersen (True Believers, 2012, etc.) at the outset of this entertaining tour of American irreality, “I will often shoot them.” Indeed he does, but then, as writers as various as H.L. Mencken and Christopher Hitchens long ago discovered, American society offers endless targets. Andersen finds a climacteric in Karl Rove’s pronouncement, a dozen years ago, that those people who live in “the reality-based community” need to understand that “that’s not the way the world really works anymore.” True enough: Andersen closes with the rise of Trump-ism and its “critical mass of fantasy and lies” that is in danger of becoming “something much worse than nasty, oafish, reality-show pseudoconservatism.” It’s not just the Trumpies who are ruining things for everyone; by the author’s account, the nice liberals who refuse to vaccinate their children are as much a part of the problem as those who flock to creation museums and megachurches. All are waystations of Andersen’s “Fantasyland,” an assemblage not just of scattered false beliefs, but whole lifestyles cobbled from them, which lands us in the 1960s and its ethos: “Do your own thing, find your own reality, it’s all relative.” It’s not, but that’s where we are today, at least by Andersen’s account, though he hastens to add that approving nods to political correctness are not necessarily the same thing as endorsing perniciousness. Throughout, the author names names—Dr. Oz, for one, won’t be happy, and neither will Oprah—and takes no prisoners, offering incitement for the rest of us to do the same. “We need to become less squishy,” Andersen writes, and instead gird up for some reality-based arguments against the “dangerously untrue and unreal.”

A spirited, often entertaining rant against things as they are.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6721-3
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2017




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