INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"It's a really great book. I'm grateful for it. It's an important book. This should be required reading."
—Marc Maron, WTF with Marc Maron
"Highly entertaining...attempts to make sense of Trump’s America and succeeds."
—Jonathan Bouquet, The Guardian
—Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Tribe
"Urgently interesting...A very stimulating, thought-provoking book on the nature of the American character from the very start. It really appealed to me. Kurt is a heck of a thinker."
"Incredibly illuminating, urgent, terrifying and also funny."
—Harvard English professor Jorie Graham
"The book is not addressed to an academic audience—and so much the better. It is written with gusto; it is very funny; and it succeeds in ridiculing hogwash, past and present. Andersen writes as a modern Mencken: no pity for the 'booboisie,' no sympathy for religious claptrap, no holds barred in combatting political piffle."
—Robert Darnton, New York Review of Books
“If you’re trying to get a handle on how we landed in a pile of Trump, Fantasyland offers a clear, persuasive historical framework” in “prose that’s lucid, supple, and powered by paradox.”
—The Boston Globe
"I can't recommend it highly enough."
"A great revisionist history of America."
—Sunday New York Times Book Review
"With this rousing book, Andersen proves to be the kind of clear-eyed critic an anxious country needs in the midst of a national crisis."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Kurt Andersen is a dazzling writer. This is a blockbuster of book. Take a deep breath and dive in."
"A stunning, sweeping explanation of how we got to Trump. The most important book that I have read this year."
—Lawrence O'Donnell, The Last Word, MSNBC
"Worthy, provocative reading."
“This is an important book—
the indispensable book—for understanding America in the age of Trump. It’s an eye-opening history filled with brilliant insights..."
—Walter Isaacson, author of The Innovators, Steve Jobs, and Benjamin Franklin
“Kurt Andersen is America’s voice of reason. What is he—Canadian? Reality-based citizens will still get a kick out of this winning romp through centuries of American delusion.”
—Sarah Vowell, author of The Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation
“Fantasyland presents the very best kind of idea—one that, in retrospect, seems obvious, but that took a seer like Kurt Andersen to piece together. The thinking and the writing are both dazzling; it’s an absolute joy to read and will leave your brain dancing with excitement long after you’re done.”
—Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakanomics
"Kurt Andersen has produced a unified field theory that might just explain everything...Fantasyland
is as enjoyable as it is enlightening.
I strongly recommend that you
—The Hindustan Times, Delhi
"I've never read a history book that's as insightful and at the same time as funny as this one."
—Steven Johnson, author of How We Got to Now and Everything Bad is Good for You
"Necessary reading...frighteningly convincing and sometimes uproarious picture of a country in steep, perhaps terminal decline."
—The Observer (London)
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, one of our sharpest observers, Kurt Andersen, demonstrates that what’s happening in our country today—this strange, post-truth, “fake news” moment we’re all living through—is not something entirely new, but rather the ultimate expression of our national character and path. America was founded by wishful dreamers, magical thinkers, and true believers, by impresarios and their audiences, by hucksters and their suckers. Believe-whatever-you-want 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 peculiar love of the fantastic has made America exceptional in a way that we’ve never fully acknowledged. 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.
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. Little by little, and then more quickly in the last several decades, the American invent-your-own-reality legacy of the Enlightenment superseded its more sober, rational, and empirical parts. We gave ourselves over to all manner of crackpot ideas and make-believe lifestyles designed to console or thrill or terrify us. In Fantasyland, Andersen brilliantly connects the dots that define this condition, portrays its scale and scope, and offers a fresh, bracing explanation of how our American journey has deposited us here.
Fantasyland could not appear at a more perfect moment. If you want to understand the politics and 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.
Winner of Council for Secular Humanism's Forkosch Award for the Best Book of 2017
Listen to the first few minutes of Kurt reading the audio book of Fantasyland.
The Book Show, public radio WAMC
USC Annenberg's Religion Dispatches
The cover story of September's The Atlantic was an excerpt from Fantasyland—the case it makes for how the great cultural shifts of the 1960s accelerated America's trajectory toward "alternative facts" and President Trump.
Big Think Videos
How America Got Divorced from Reality: Christian Utopias, Anti-Elitism, and the Media Circus (the 8th most popular Big Think video of 2017)