Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History by Kurt Andersen

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

A razor-sharp thinker offers a new understanding of our post-truth world and explains the American instinct to believe in make-believe, from the Pilgrims to P. T. Barnum to Disneyland to zealots of every stripe . . . to Donald Trump. In this sweeping, eloquent history of America, Kurt Andersen demonstrates that what’s happening in our country today—this strange, post-factu...

Title:Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
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Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History Reviews

  • Laurie

    This is a very interesting, and, I think, valuable book to have come out at this time and place. Surveys he cites show that one fifth of Americans think the 9/11 attacks were an inside job by American government agents, and four fifths believe that the Bible is factual history right down to the creation story. Only a third of us believe that the current climate changes are human caused. Various religious sects believe all the others are heretic. The author states that between the 60s anything go

    This is a very interesting, and, I think, valuable book to have come out at this time and place. Surveys he cites show that one fifth of Americans think the 9/11 attacks were an inside job by American government agents, and four fifths believe that the Bible is factual history right down to the creation story. Only a third of us believe that the current climate changes are human caused. Various religious sects believe all the others are heretic. The author states that between the 60s anything goes ideology, the huge show business influence, extreme religions, and the internet, the lines between reality and what we merely believe in have become very, very blurred. We put feelings and beliefs ahead of verifiable facts, in ways that people in the rest of the world don’t. And this loss of touch with reality brings us to the point where religious beliefs are being used to direct boards of education and medical care, and we elect politicians on what they say rather than what their voting record (or lack thereof) shows they’ve done.

    American history, from the very first European settlers (barring the Vikings, who didn’t stick around), has been different from that of other countries. He goes through the details of why Americans are unique in how they see the world. He writes about not just religion and politics but immersive gaming and comic cons. (note to the author: I’ll go out on a limb and say that 99% of us who go to cons don’t believe we’re really vampires, in an alternate Victorian age where ray guns are powered by steam, or that we are capable of flying- it’s just *fun*)

    The book is not overly long (over 400 pages) but it is a solid read. Despite the length and the deluge of facts, the author has an entertaining writing style that drew me in and made this a book I couldn’t put down. I think it’s an important subject to think about, and possibly reassess how our own beliefs influence our actions. Five stars

  • Diane S ☔

    It seems like a great many of American citizens are living in a Fantasyland, a land where we can fool ourselves that those like minded people, people who share our beliefs, are n fact correct, truth telling. Seriously, how did we manage to get here, to a world and with a leader, who has taken his fantasies to a new level? The author shows us how this refusal to see other view points, often taking this to extreme levels, has always existed.

    He takes us back 500 years to the Puritans, a group of Ub

    It seems like a great many of American citizens are living in a Fantasyland, a land where we can fool ourselves that those like minded people, people who share our beliefs, are n fact correct, truth telling. Seriously, how did we manage to get here, to a world and with a leader, who has taken his fantasies to a new level? The author shows us how this refusal to see other view points, often taking this to extreme levels, has always existed.

    He takes us back 500 years to the Puritans, a group of Uber religious, who were convinced that they, and only they new the true path to heaven. The witch trials, where those who were different or who disagreed with the established truth were put to death. They must have been sent by the devil. Onto The Gold rush were many gave up everything g to follow the lure of a get rich scheme. The NRA, convincing many that they would be killed in their beds if they were not able to own a firearm, and if that wasn't enough that the evil government was intent on taking away our rights, if we start with the guns who knows what will follow. To UFO abductions, recalled memories, video games, virtual reality, and the internet, fake news and the harm this has all caused. So many other things throughout history. Our appalling habit to revere movie stars, even reality TV stars as heroes, I mean you have only look at the major amount of money the Kardashians have made, for doing and being nothing at all. He calls out those, like Dr. Oz who should know better but has instead turned into a panderer of stardom and the masses. Of course the biggest reality TV star of them all is now our President, and he continues to fire people almost weekly.

    A man who is smart enough to understand some people's minds and play on that to reach the highest office of them all. I am not, however, going to turn this into my personal discourse on the President, but read this book. I think you will come to a new understanding of exactly how this happened and exactly what played into making this even possible. Think you will be as appalled as I was at the lengths people can go, how they are capable of fooling themselves and the lengths they will go to in order to defend their beliefs.

    ARC from Netgalley.

  • David Rush

    Whooo! That was 442 pages of one angry guy venting.

    The first half has some pretty cool history anecdotes and when he makes value judgments I almost always agree with him at least in the beginning. But the whole thing is like a really long rambling talk with thousands of historical and cultural references. Kind of like if Dennis Miller was funny or smart or not a conservative stooge, you know if he was somebody completely different..then he would be like this guy if he wrote a book. (Well that w

    Whooo! That was 442 pages of one angry guy venting.

    The first half has some pretty cool history anecdotes and when he makes value judgments I almost always agree with him at least in the beginning. But the whole thing is like a really long rambling talk with thousands of historical and cultural references. Kind of like if Dennis Miller was funny or smart or not a conservative stooge, you know if he was somebody completely different..then he would be like this guy if he wrote a book. (Well that was pointless wasn’t it?)

    Quick aside: I think this covers some of the same issues as

    by Charles Pierce (My review at

    )

    In general Andersen says America has always been a horror-show of Fantasy thinking but it got much more worse starting in the 1960’s. The book's structure has the first half of it about U.S. history from colonial days to our current age, and after that his reasoning style is sort of a shotgun logic with each page having a dozen or so different reasons why religion or psychology or almost everything in the world that isn’t from Kurt Andersen’s idyllic formative years feeds into the "Fantasy Industrial Complex". At some point I simply started listing things that pissed him off or contributed to “the Fantasy Industry Complex”, see the

    at the end of the review.

    OK, I think the crux of the book is his contention that people, by which he seems to mean everybody in America although one assumes he is excluded, no longer see facts as fact and feel they can believe anything no matter how outlandish. Really, he repeatedly says things like “Americans now think...(something stupid)” and anybody he quotes who offers a criticism to what he dubs squishy thinking seems to already be dead, so only the wisdom of the ancients can help us now, well them and him.

    Oh and while he hates pop psychology and new age books he really thinks Christianity is the heart of the problem and primarily Protestantism

    Pg. 42

    To me the tone feels dangerously close to “all wars are caused by religion and if there were no religion there would be no wars”. Except he is implying if there had been no religion everybody would be rational actors. Now he does NOT make it that clear and I am sure if confronted he would say he didn’t mean that. But that is the impression, but that may just be squishy thinking on my part.

    A close second to religion is anything else people do or read for recreation...

    Pg. 138

    So if you break away from religion you are apt to get hooked on videogames and once more you don’t know what is real.

    Then there are parts that irritate me because it just seems like sloppy reasoning. I call these parts the REALLY?!? sections, which I stole from SNL Weekend Update bit

    Pg. 144

    [REALLY?!?I don’t think that is remotely what anybody else thinks the moral is]

    Pg. 145

    [REALLY?!?]

    Pg. 179

    [REALLY?!? how about this,

    . Also, could it be some reasonable people may say psychiatric hospitals in the 1950’s and ‘60’s maybe were not so wonderful? I could be wrong, but I just presented as much proof of my thought as he did]

    I did appreciate him introducing the notion of when something is "falsifiable".

    Pg. 25

    Recognizing the irrational thinking of conspiracy buffs in America is a theme throughout the book...but the thing is he ties together everything he dislikes in to an immense web of irrationality that each support the other and it comes off as a really, really big conspiracy.

    Pg. 262

    After positing this Glenn Beck like grand conspiracy he then totally UN-ironically says on the next page….

    Pg. 263

    So even though he does have a ton of cool historical fact, the whole purpose of the book is to tell us American is going to hell in a hand-basket and things were much better when he was little and it all boils down to his opinion, And that can never be disproved to him, i.e. his beliefs aren’t falsifiable.

    When I was trying to figure this book out I found this interview online which reinforces my thinking.

    KA:

    That answer is kind of Trumpesque, in that yes he has a lot of data, but no the data doesn't prove anything, but it is his opinion which is good enough to anchor a whole book about the subject, thank you very much. NEXT Question please!

    Now that I got all that out of my system I can say that I like the book (but eventually settled on a Goodreads rating of "OK"). I enjoyed all the cool trivia and broadly agree with his conclusions although before reading his book I already had those thoughts (...that America sure has a lot of people who believe crazy stuff). It is just that he presents a lot of opinion with the moral authority of scientific fact and he ridicules others for having pickups and Jeep vehicles in the city but blithely excuses his Landrover. He criticizes wealthy people for trying to act rural with their large yard suburban housing but it is a OK for him to have a “farm” in New York where his family can raise sheep as a hobby, or at least until they move onto something else.

    Again, I like this book and agree with much of it, but the author seems a bit of an overconfident* hypocrite.

    *(dare I say "smug"?, yes I dare!)

    Things he dislikes

    Tolkien, theme parks – especially Disneyland/world, Any historical recreations – especially Civil War recreations, plays – especially TV plays/drama, 1960’s – except when referring to “when I was young”, Beat literature, pop psychology, John Birch society, academia – apparently all of academia, any religion, movies, science fiction – especially Philip K. dick (expect when he does like him), Renaissance fairs, D & D, Lotto, contraception – leads to “unserious sex”, UN-stigmatized masturbation (I didn’t expect that one), Playboy – relates to previous topic, dyed hair (another one of those “when I was a child nobody did”…), plastic surgery, adult sloppy dressing (when he was a child grownups didn’t wear jeans I guess), comic con, pro wrestling, hip hop, suburbs, Keith Haring (another one that seemed out of the blue, but I guess he feels Harring's art was unserious), Frank Lloyd Wright, home schooling – except when his friends do it, the TV show Bonanza, The Big Lebowski movie, The Cracker Barrel restaurants, video games, LARPing...and a bunch more.

    Only from when I noticed and started counting I got 7 references how things were better when he was born or before he was born.

  • Karla

    If you're one of those people who believes that the current insanity we're living through in America is a new infection, Andersen makes a convincing case that it's a virus America's had for quite some time. In fact, he asserts that it's part of our DNA and the outbreaks have cropped up in different forms over time since our "discovery" back in the 15th century. Europe sent over their best and the world's never been the same since.

    His case is particularly solid when describing the post-war Boomer

    If you're one of those people who believes that the current insanity we're living through in America is a new infection, Andersen makes a convincing case that it's a virus America's had for quite some time. In fact, he asserts that it's part of our DNA and the outbreaks have cropped up in different forms over time since our "discovery" back in the 15th century. Europe sent over their best and the world's never been the same since.

    His case is particularly solid when describing the post-war Boomer era and beyond (the majority of the text), when economic security and technological advances enabled fantasy to become more and more a facet of everyday life and common indulgence.

    To be honest, I really can't relate much to that mindset, but seems like the headlong rush into Fantasyland is a lifelong pursuit for some, whether it's via the boob tube, the internet, or - in a more toxic and politically devastating way - the pulpit. What really makes America Fantasyland is religion and the unquestioning embrace of faith and belief over facts.

    In all, Andersen delivers his ruminations on what makes America the obnoxiously flakey and ideologically free-for-all dynamo that it is in a very engaging and accessible manner. His final chapter on Donald Trump is particularly good, given Andersen's adversarial history with him as the publisher of

    magazine. He speaks as one who was on to Trump's shady schtick long before Agent Orange embarked on his latest scam conning the rubes & bullying the spineless on a national level.

    One of the more entertaining popular social histories I've read.

    ***

    Pre-reading thoughts:

    Hmmm, sounds like it might be a good companion piece to Nancy Isenberg's

    , which I just finished listening to.

  • Peter Mcloughlin

    This book is a witty and diverting romp through the horror of our current delusional culture and broken system. It is fun and apocalyptic at the same time. The author is funny and hits you with zingers and trenchant observations about the collapse of our culture, government, economic system and prospects for a sustainable future as we fall into a culture of delusion where reality is just your opinion man. He covers in a funny way how entertainment, conspiracy theories, religious fanaticism, magi

    This book is a witty and diverting romp through the horror of our current delusional culture and broken system. It is fun and apocalyptic at the same time. The author is funny and hits you with zingers and trenchant observations about the collapse of our culture, government, economic system and prospects for a sustainable future as we fall into a culture of delusion where reality is just your opinion man. He covers in a funny way how entertainment, conspiracy theories, religious fanaticism, magical thinking, right-wing derangement, have eclipsed reality. It covers it in such a funny way that you will be laughing all the way to Armageddon.

    Here is video discussion with the author of the book.

  • Lauren

    Andersen traces 500 years of cultural history that lead us to this moment where logic and rational thought are downplayed, where opinion equals fact, and where many choose to live in a complete "fantasyland". It's a trenchant analysis, and a very convincing one too.

    Andersen notes that from the very beginnings - the Protestant Reformation, the European migration to

    Andersen traces 500 years of cultural history that lead us to this moment where logic and rational thought are downplayed, where opinion equals fact, and where many choose to live in a complete "fantasyland". It's a trenchant analysis, and a very convincing one too.

    Andersen notes that from the very beginnings - the Protestant Reformation, the European migration to North America, the treatment of native peoples - the nascent state was set up as a "fantasy", as a "city on a hill", something that it could never truly be. Following the sociological trends, the demograhics, and specifically the religious and industrial history of the country, the Fantasyland ideal was secured.

    230 years are covered in 50 pages (1517-1789), and the analysis really begins in the 19th century. We see the rise of homegrown belief systems (Mormonism, the Shakers, Christian Science), as well as the explosion of alternative health (tonics, snake oils, nephrology, etc.). Combining these things with the manifest destiny/westward expansion, the explosion of industry, etc. Years 1900 - present receive the bulk of the book, tracing trends in entertainment, health, business, and religion and finally 2016's presidential election as a culmination of all things fantasy.

    Andersen reports and collates the history, and occasionally offers some personal anecdotes: his own time with a guru in the 1960s, his own experimentation with psychadelics, his family's midwestern beliefs and suburbia, and his adult life as a writer and radio personality.

    This book was hard to put down - I learned a lot, reminisced a bit, realized how I also perpetuate/practice some of these fantasies in my own life (not necessarily a bad thing...), but it helped me also underscore why it is so important to continue to stand up for research, for reason, and for rationality.

    5/5

  • Mehrsa

    It's been a long time since I've tried to purposely read a book more slowly than I otherwise would because I just did not want it to end. This book was so riveting and interesting that I made myself savor it over a week instead of devouring it all at once, which is what I usually do. Yet I recommend it with a lot of trepidation because he demolishes every faith and every belief. Nothing is sacred--not even the word itself, which he believes is a troubling concept. There is a lot to disagree with

    It's been a long time since I've tried to purposely read a book more slowly than I otherwise would because I just did not want it to end. This book was so riveting and interesting that I made myself savor it over a week instead of devouring it all at once, which is what I usually do. Yet I recommend it with a lot of trepidation because he demolishes every faith and every belief. Nothing is sacred--not even the word itself, which he believes is a troubling concept. There is a lot to disagree with--there is cherrypicking, of course, and a lot of revisionism, but that is the case with every single "big idea" book. There is also a lot of unfair caricatures--especially of the Mormons who are the brunt of his most virulent attacks. So there is a lot to bristle at. Why 5 stars? Because it's that good and that necessary. We've all suspected that something like this was going on in politics for a long time and here it is crystal clear and explained as a uniquely American concept.

    I probably relished this book more than others might because I felt a bit vindicated. I've always been hard on myself for not being about to suspend reality to enjoy fantastical stuff. I'm no fun when it comes to games, fantasy play, new age-y anything, and belief in things that are unproven. I think it makes for a less happy existence and I've often wished I could be different. But at last, proof that skepticism is fine.

    I also think we need a plan, which this book is short on. What is the antidote to fantastic thinking? It is certainly not "facts" "science" or "truth." Is it a virus that can't be stopped? Sometimes I fear it is. Once people are not dissuaded from their beliefs by "proof," is there any turning back? I hope so because George Soros and the Illuminati and the Free Masons are running out of funds!

  • Jason

    Chuck Palahniuk once said that while he is proud of Fight Club he is wary of any man who says it is his favourite book/movie. The same can be said for any truly thinking person who meets someone who found this book insightful or meaningful. To see this as anything other than ironic satire of the mindless state of modern liberalism is insane; to believe that the author has enough intelligence and craft to write such a thing is just as insane. This is a cruel read, a well-curated series of Wikiped

    Chuck Palahniuk once said that while he is proud of Fight Club he is wary of any man who says it is his favourite book/movie. The same can be said for any truly thinking person who meets someone who found this book insightful or meaningful. To see this as anything other than ironic satire of the mindless state of modern liberalism is insane; to believe that the author has enough intelligence and craft to write such a thing is just as insane. This is a cruel read, a well-curated series of Wikipedia articles that acts as an (unknowingly) disparaging condemnation of the author himself as he engages in the mindlessly simplistic thinking that he throws his subjects under the bus for. His infantile attacks (Coleridge took opium!) on the characters of the people he mentions serve to prop up a weak argument that bludgeons already agreeing proselytes with the kind of half-baked directionality that any reasonably intelligent person knows is pure "fantasy". This kind of work erodes what little is left of intelligent thought and should be pissed on by thoughtful people just as thoroughly as the author pisses on the perspectives and views of the "fantasists" that he disparages.

  • Todd N

    Well, this has got to be the longest Spy Magazine article I have ever read. It’s too bad the book jacket doesn’t have a Photoshopped picture of Hillary and Trump on it. Come to think of it, there must be several good ones in the Spy archives left over from the 80s and 90s.

    The “Fantasyland” of the title is America, of course — the place where reality has a well-known liberal bias. The place where Republicans think it is ridiculous Russia could have interfered in the latest election, while at the

    Well, this has got to be the longest Spy Magazine article I have ever read. It’s too bad the book jacket doesn’t have a Photoshopped picture of Hillary and Trump on it. Come to think of it, there must be several good ones in the Spy archives left over from the 80s and 90s.

    The “Fantasyland” of the title is America, of course — the place where reality has a well-known liberal bias. The place where Republicans think it is ridiculous Russia could have interfered in the latest election, while at the same time their 2016 platform calls for a constitutional amendment to protect homeschooling from the United Nations. The place where GMOs and vaccines are a corporate conspiracy, yet herbal pills (which are as likely as not to contain any trace of an actual herb) contain the latest health wisdom of the ancients.

    Even though it’s one big book divided into six parts, to me it read like two different books with the same themes fused together at the midpoint (sort of like Strawberry Fields Forever if that makes sense).

    The first part goes all the way back to Martin Luther 500 years ago and ends around 1950 or so. The earliest America is populated by (1) people too Protestant to get along with other Protestants and (2) people credulous enough to believe get rich schemes about the New World. These people put down roots way, way before The Enlightenment came to town.

    During this period think of America as a waffle iron that takes the waffle batter of The Bible and makes ever more bizarre religion waffles, from Puritan to Pentecostal, from shaking to speaking in tongues.

    On the more secular side of things, there was all kinds of fun nonsense going on too: mesmerism, hypnotism, homeopathy, phrenology, seances, magic gems for finding treasure, P.T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill...

    One particularly interesting section discusses the role of conspiracy theories in helping to bring about The Civil War, and how Lincoln made references to them in his debates with Douglas.

    The second section picks up in the 1950s, when the seeds were sewn for what would bloom into today’s modern Fantasyland: Las Vegas, Playboy, the Beats, Scientology, McCarthyism, renewed interested in Christian evangelicalism, and—most of all—Disneyland.

    Then came the Fantasyland Big Bang in the 1960s and 1970s, in which

    and anything did.

    Mr. Andersen makes the crux of his argument here: We all know about the left’s side of the culture wars that kicked off at this time: sex, drugs, rock and roll, Esalen, academic relativism, cultural relativism, and so on. But this is also when the right let loose. He pinpoints this time to the mainstreaming of the right’s particular brand of unreality: extreme Christianity, conspiracy theories, right-libertarianism/Randism, capitalist greed, the gun lobby, survivalist movements (an offshoot of live-off-the-land movements), and more.

    This is when for so many Americans, individualism curdled into solipsism, just as “Every man for himself” is the flip side of “Do your own thing.”

    According to Mr. Andersen, we are now in Full Fantasyland and have been since 2000. We just needed these things to happen first to push us over the edge and convert a bunch of us into Walter Mittys: Reagan; Oprah; The Secret; Behold a Pale Horse; X-Files; Celebration, Florida; President Clinton investigated for Vince Foster’s suicide; formation of the National Institute of Health’s alternative medical center; the Web; broadband Internet.

    Even though this book was started and mostly written way before Trump was running for president, obviously the current state of American politics and the GOP (and even the recent Senate primary win of Roy Moore) hangs over much of this book.

    Also it’s impossible to read this book without thinking about fringe news sites and the role of social media in the 2016 election. Before I read this book, I assumed it was just simple confirmation bias that resulted in so many people sharing articles on clear nonsense like, say, Pizzagate or the Pope endorsing Trump. Now I think it’s something much deeper in the American character with that weird mix of Protestant plus Enlightenment plus gullible New World fortune seeker.

    Roughly half of the book discusses religion, the history of religion in America, and different factions of American non-mainline Protestant religions. These parts are pretty rough (read: clear eyed) on religion. It may be tough going if this is a topic that you are (1) not interested in or (2) sensitive about.

    I can sum it up for you real quick by saying that Marx was almost right: Religion is actually the hallucinogen of the masses.

    Still, it is refreshing to read paragraphs like this: “But the Branch Davidian’s theology is not so different from that of a large fraction of Americans. We call Koresh a ‘cult-leader’ which allows us to file him away reassuringly as a one-off nut... But it’s important to recognize that his church was a long-standing subgroup of a 150-year-old Protestant denomination that is one of the twenty largest churches in America, with six thousand congregations.” (Don’t forget that our current secretary of housing and urban development is a Seventh Day Adventist, just like Koresh was.)

    Mr. Andersen throws in some great quotes, including some scary quotes from Goebbels and Arendt and Orwell. But the one that he keeps coming back to, from Thomas Jefferson, is his litmus test for when someone else’s beliefs can be considered harmful or not. How about putting this quote outside courthouses instead?

    “It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

    Highest recommendation. The best book I’ve read so far this year. The Russians should hire Mr. Andersen to run their bot farms.

    P.S. Obviously this book is wrong about aliens and visitations. Don’t even try telling me that we didn’t reverse engineer computer chips from crashed alien ships.

  • Leo Walsh

    A fun romp through "post-truth" America, where people make millions off of Americans' gullibility. Where Karl Rove, a White House official, can quip that "what we call the 'reality-based community,' where people believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." have it wrong. Because, according to Rove, "That's not the way the world really works anymore."

    In this America, people believe in easily-debunked fact-and-logic-free nonsense — like UFO's, the Illuminati cr

    A fun romp through "post-truth" America, where people make millions off of Americans' gullibility. Where Karl Rove, a White House official, can quip that "what we call the 'reality-based community,' where people believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." have it wrong. Because, according to Rove, "That's not the way the world really works anymore."

    In this America, people believe in easily-debunked fact-and-logic-free nonsense — like UFO's, the Illuminati creating a New World Order, that the US government staged 9/11 using crisis, Pizzagate, that the bible is the "unerring word of God," that the world is 5000 years old, that a bunch of hippies sitting around the Pentagon chanting "Om" could actually levitate the building and initiate an era of world peace, etc.

    It's funny on one hand, since this stuff is nutty.

    And yet, it's not. Since this denial of reality often has consequences. Consider the fact-free freakout about the MMR vaccine causing autism. It's pure bunkum. The study that originally reported this in the British medical journal "The Lancet" has been discredited, the evidence made up. What's more, before that, public health researchers, freaked by the potential connection between the MMR vaccine and autism, pored over hundreds of previous studies and created new studies. These proved that, based on the best available evidence, that

    And yet people (especially in CA) refuse to let their children be vaccinated out of fear of autism. Which brings immunizations below the mathematically necessary herd-immunity levels. And thus brings diseases that were extinct a few decades ago, like mumps and measles, back into existence. Worse, some of those children affected have died.

    And yet, we continue, pretending this is just an amusing quirk.

    Andersen traces this to America's grand Protestant tradition, where every person is free to interpret scripture (and thus, reality) in a matter that suits only himself or herself. And he does a nice job digging through our history to see where the first PT Barnum fleeced the first sucker. Which leads to some interesting factoids.

    For instance, did you know that Jamestown, VA was created not so people can farm, but because of a trumped-up goldrush... that shouldn't have existed since VA has little to no gold reserves? So people rushed to Jamestown to get rich quick. Based on fake news and puffery.

    But I've got to shave points off because not being a historian, his argument comes off lopsided. Afte reading this, you'd assume that American history is a sham. That every person who fishes, hunts, raises chickens or gardens is living an "I'm an America Frontiersman" fantasy.

    I dunno. I'm an American. I fish and grow my own organic produce. I garden to save money and eat healthy food... and to feed oxygen to the environment to help offset my carbon footprint. And I fish (mostly rivers) because I enjoy the peace and quiet. And the pleasant shock I get when a fish hit my lure.

    Not sure that's a fantasy.

    What's more, Andersen has a long list of dislikes, some of which I agree with, others of which I think are overkill.

    Regardless, this is a funny book. And a wakeup call for America. Since we all have a right to our own opinions, but not to our own fact. Instead, let's call Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" what they are. Inaccuracies or lies, depending on the circumstances.

    Four stars. A long book that's over too soon, IMHO.

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