How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
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“The single most important explanation, and the fullest explanation,
of how Donald Trump became president of the United States . . . nothing
less than the most important book that I have read this year.”—Lawrence
How did we get here?
In this sweeping,
eloquent history of America, Kurt Andersen shows that what’s happening
in our country today—this post-factual, “fake news” moment we’re all
living through—is not something new, but rather the ultimate expression
of our national character. America was founded by wishful dreamers,
magical thinkers, and true believers, by hucksters and their suckers.
Fantasy is deeply embedded in our DNA.
Over the course of five
centuries—from the Salem witch trials to Scientology to the Satanic
Panic of the 1980s, from P. T. Barnum to Hollywood and the
anything-goes, wild-and-crazy sixties, from conspiracy theories to our
fetish for guns and obsession with extraterrestrials—our love of the
fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we've never
fully acknowledged. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached
to epic dreams and epic fantasies—every citizen was free to believe
absolutely anything, or to pretend to be absolutely anybody. With the
gleeful erudition and tell-it-like-it-is ferocity of a Christopher
Hitchens, Andersen explores whether the great American experiment in
liberty has gone off the rails.