You may already know that Belgium is the most boring country on planet Earth, but do you know why? Or what makes the Mark 44, Model O Lazy Dog Missile Cluster, the sexiest piece of military hardware on wheels? Or how LSD edged out all contenders as the Platonic Ideal of illicit drugs?


“As if Johnny Carson and Dick Cavett weren’t enough in the way of humor, the state of Nebraska has now given us Kurt Andersen. As his debut in adult public life—unless you happen to count being an editor of the Harvard Lampoon part of adult public life—Mr. Andersen has written The Real Thing...It can be very witty, as well as a number of other things.”

The New York Times


From cities to sitcoms, from scotch to soda, from English monarchs to French movies, The Real Thing, originally published in 1980, is a compendium of the quintessential, providing definitive answers to some of the most compelling questions of our time: What confection out-cholesterols the competition? Why is The Country Club the country club? Which Charlie Chan proved the least scrutable?


The book's essay on gay people, arguing that the Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie are "the real thing," introduced that idea into the culture, which has, over the years, generated media attention again and again and again

Kirkus (1980)

The New York Times (1980)


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