Michael Williams's Reviews > Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen
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really liked it

Fantasyland was a fun read for at least two reasons: (1) each of the underlying themes seemed custom-made to validate my preconceived notions about why people (Americans, particularly) are quick to believe unsubstantiated claims, and (2) Andersen’s style is smart, conversational, and funny.

I really wanted to give Fantasyland five stars, but it was frustrating in one pronounced way: Andersen waits until the second half of the final chapter to do most of the work of tying together the themes and ideas of the previous 45 chapters. It makes for a satisfying finish (a method that probably serves Andersen’s fiction readers well), but this approach leaves the reader with long stretches of what begins to feel like recitations of “oh, and look at this other weird thing people believe.”

Also, I know it wasn’t Andersen’s purpose, but I wish he’d given the reader just a little more by way of suggested remedies, more how-to advice on making America reality-based again. Perhaps a companion volume is forthcoming?

All that said, this book deserves a wide audience and to be added to civics syllabi everywhere. It won’t turn everyone into rational empiricists overnight. But a basic understanding of the historical and developing reasons why facts and reality have taken a backseat to relativism and magical thinking for so many Americans (on the left and the right) is a good starting point, and Fantasyland delivers just that.
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Reading Progress

September 15, 2017 – Shelved
September 15, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
November 5, 2017 – Started Reading
November 20, 2017 –
page 178
41.49%
November 26, 2017 – Finished Reading

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