NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “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 O’Donnell
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.
Fantasyland could not appear at a more perfect moment. If you want to understand Donald Trump and the culture of twenty-first-century America, if you want to know how the lines between reality and illusion have become dangerously blurred, you must read this book.
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“This is a blockbuster of a book. Take a deep breath and dive in.”—Tom Brokaw
“[An] absorbing, must-read polemic . . . a provocative new study of America’s cultural history.”—Newsday
“Compelling and totally unnerving.”—The Village Voice
“A frighteningly convincing and sometimes uproarious picture of a country in steep, perhaps terminal decline that would have the founding fathers weeping into their beards.”—The Guardian
“This is an important book—the indispensable book—for understanding America in the age of Trump.”—Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fantasyland by Kurt Anderson
A fascinating historical perspective of the beginning of American history in the 1600s with the quest for gold to contemporary time where the Enlightenment not only produced scientific thoughts but varied degrees of imaginary cults scams and alternate realities which have led us to excessive pursuit of shallow amusements rather than meaningful ideas of substance and benefiting all of society rather than just ourselves a soul searching read Pat .lorello
Kurt Andersen is a very intelligent man and has keen insights into the American experience but this book is hard work for the average reader. I enjoyed his novels much more, especially Heyday. This book is for the very serious reader with a bent toward philosophy, religion, and history. I did not finish...
United States of Fantasyland
How America got obesity, long commutes, anti-vaccination parents, Joseph Smith, essential oils, Dr. Oz, Oprah, relativist academics, Joel Osteen and the mysticism of the new left.
Its as if there has been a conspiracy to undermine reason and facts from the moment a few wealthy white guys decided they'd had it with their crown wearing master in London during the last quarter of the 18th Century.
Some of the chapters on religion get repetitive but Anderson's tracing of the roots of evangelism and Mormonism are so short and concise and accurate, lengthening them would be a waste of intellect.
The concept that technological innovations improve reality is false. Our tech masters have sold us devices and software to enhance our fantasies, to numb the unpleasantness reality. All you have to do is believe in something and if it gives you a feeling of warmth or excitement, well then it must be true. It must be good.
Goop on citizens. Hudson Filter that photo of your sedentary life. Devour the green coffee pills, ignore the intelligent design chapters in your kids textbook, get lost tracking down the real story of 9/11 on Infowars.
Anyone who tells you that it is all a lie or that science doesn't support the purported benefits is part of the conspiracy and must be ignored. It's a free country, believe whatever you want until the consequences of mass denial pile up and we are all forced to deal with the aftermath.
Fantasyland will be a weathered, hot wasteland.