File Size: 1237 KB
Print Length: 481 pages
Publisher: Random House (September 5, 2017)
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Fantasyland is, as the subtitle states, a 500-year good the United States, recounted through a particular prism, and I find the thesis convincing and compelling. Andersen's premise is that from colonial days on, America, unlike Europe, has recently been shaped by people who have been divorced from reality, whether through faith based fanaticism (think the Puritans) or prospects of wealth (think the Roanoke nest or Jamestown settlers). And that tenacious grip on fantasy over fact has largely guided our country's history, with new illustrations emerging in every time. Within the aggregate, this elevation of the impossible, the absurd and the unsubstantiated, has repeatedly destroyed lives and gotten us to the sorry place we are today, where the holder of the best office in the land consistently lies and gets away with it.
Fantasyland will not sit well with people who are deeply religious, as some of some other reviews suggest. Andersen takes repeated and precise aim at mainstream religious beliefs, as well as perimeter sects like Mormonism and Scientology, He traces how various extreme elements and beliefs have found influence governmental policies, culture and education, among others. And he doesn't cut New Agey kinds any slack, either. However for those of us who reside mainly in the reality-based community, who consider in science and scientific evidence and view faith based documents like the Bible as metaphorical, not literal, it is an important and valuable analysis of how we now have come to the current pass.
Andersen is a gifted article writer, and the book is often entertaining, although also alarming, especially as the narrative creeps up on the current disaster-in-chief and those who continue to support him, against all evidence. It is also a bit scholarly, in this this individual documents his sources, and sometimes gives more details than you might want on certain topics.
But if you care about America and wonder how coming from reached the point where intelligent, educated people nonetheless willfully ignore evidence and the weight of research, then Fantasyland will likely shed some light.
Five stars because that is a well-written and important book., Whoa! What a romp through American historical past this book is. The particular author starts in 1517 with Martin Luther's 95 theses and brings the reader through to the Trump era, persuasively arguing that Americans have a unique susceptibility to the bizarre and the false. Within that vein, he dubs the United States " Fantasyland. " Our early on settlers were both looking for elusive but alluring gold and riches, and for the freedom to believe in religious doctrines that may appear fantastical myths for some. " " The first English-speaking Americans tended to be the more wide-eyed and desperately wishful, " he writes. And from that state of being, this individual says, springs our national character as true believers in the false, strange and fanciful.
Seemingly every wacky episode in Us history is roofed in Mr. Andersen's book. You'll find the Salem witch hunts of old, and the modern witch hunts accusing day care workers of ritual Satanic child abuse. Explorers looking for rare metal, and modern investors dropping for get-rich schemes are in here. Gun legal rights advocates who fantasize about everyday citizens blowing crooks and terrorists to kingdom-come get a chapter. The particular beliefs of religious systems are a continuous fundamental theme of the book, and politicians and their antics are fully examined under the author's microscope. " Squishies, cynics and believers, " the creator calls us.
For the most part, the author takes a fairly neutral tone as he looks at his fellow Americans (although his disdain for people of faith becomes tiresome). Nevertheless in the direction of the finish of the book, he starts to insert himself into the narrative. Bringing up Jodi Dean, a political man of science and professor at Hobart and William Smith, this individual calls out her " enthusiasm for untruths and her contempt for reason. " " Dean commemorates practically every attitude and approach that appalls me personally, " he writes. From then on, I noticed more of a judgmental perspective for Mr. Andersen. Now i'm fine with him getting all judgy; it's just something I noticed. And I fully agree with his observation -- by analyzing the adult population that is besotted by Disney World -- that Us adults have become significantly infantalized, with their penchant for Halloween dress-up and their preference for created worlds rather than the real thing. (My spouse and i also once took family members to England, and as we walked the streets of Castle Combe, surrounded on all attributes by ancient, thatched-roof cottage, half-timbered houses and quite English gardens, they exclaimed, " It's just like Epcot! " Sigh. )
In structure, the book is like 46 condensed theses strung together into book form. That's not a poor thing. It makes it readable and consider the thoughts of each and every brief part. And, fortunately, the creator is a much breezier writer than your standard issue academic. His writing is direct and easy to read, and quotations other writers, philosophers, theologians and politicians extensively, which brings a breadth to his narrative that I appreciated. So, my fellow Us citizens, dig in and luxuriate in your whirlwind tour through Fantasyland!, I can't remember the last time I liked reading a book as much as this one. I learned something new on almost every page, and the book is packed with brief references to things that sent me off to do a bit more research (did you know that Harvard has a program in placebo studies? headed by a movie director with a B. A. degree). Anderson starts with the earliest American colonists and takes us upward to the present day. We learn about the wacky religions (he's not frightened to name names, and some devotees of these probably will not be happy), and centuries of fads and fallacies. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is showing how the same impulse (" find your own truth, don't trust anybody else" ) applied not just to the hippies but ended upward giving tise to post-modern academic relativism of the " truth doesn't matter" school. And eventually to the deniers of climate change and evolution. The reason why is it that a third of Americans are absolutely sure that the earth is only 6000 yrs . old, a view that is pretty much dead in all other developed countries? The author's explanation makes a lot of sense. And the book describes the way you ended up today surviving in a combinationn of Disneyland and professional wrestling. An important book that goes a long way to explaining what's going on in America today.
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