Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
As Ben Fountain sees it, the United States is facing its third existential crisis. The first was the struggle over slavery, culminating in the Civil War. The second was the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialised world, which brought about the New Deal. The third, is Donald Trump. But how will it end?Taking in America's love affair with firearms, celebrity culture, Russia, Obamacare, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Trump himself, Beautiful Country Burn Again explores how the United States reached a new crisis point and asks how America really can be great again.
As Ben Fountain sees it, the United States is facing its third existential crisis. The first was the struggle over slavery, culminating in the Civil War. The second was the Great Depression, the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialised world, which brought about the New Deal. The third, is Donald Trump. But how will it end? Taking in America's love affair with firearms, celebrity culture, Russia, Obamacare, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Trump himself, Beautiful Country Burn Again explores how the United States reached a new crisis point and asks how America really can be great again.
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
The craziness of the 2016 presidential campaign fed on deep currents in American history, according to these caustic essays. Novelist Fountain (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk), a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, recaps election highlights in several chapters of vivid reportage, including colorful profiles of the candidates in Iowa-a Hillary Clinton he sees as both competent and corrupt; an excessively religious, cynical Ted Cruz; a Bernie Sanders who comes across as a hectoring grandpa presiding over a hipster rave of a rally-and a panorama of the bullying politics and batty conspiracy theorizing at the Republican National Convention. Other essays explore the psychic allure of a Kentucky gun show; the history of racialized American policing from slave patrols to the Ferguson riots; the legacy of the New Deal and the decades-long Republican fight to undo it. Fountain's vivid prose shows the novelist's knack for revealing character through gesture and physicality-candidate Trump's overbearing speechifying, he writes, woos audiences with a "confiding stream-of-consciousness slurry like the boss's arm draped over your shoulder, trusting you above all others"-and offers a shrewd analysis of how Trump's supporters felt liberated by his assaults on political correctness. Whip-smart and searching in its indictment of cant and falsity, this is perhaps the best portrait yet of an astounding election. Photos. Agent: Heather Schroder, Compass Talent. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Who better than Fountain, the award-winning author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk (2012), for the Guardian to send out on the 2016 campaign trail? That novel's satiric take on politics and the military was apt training for what Fountain would encounter navigating the Democrat's internecine Bernie-versus-Hillary battles and the minefield of Republican candidates, from which the unlikely Trump emerged victorious. Month by month, Fountain recaps campaign absurdities and national and international tragedies. Interspersed are essays pinpointing relevant historic events that have influenced the current political climate. Marry the two, and the result is a chronicle of past existential threats to our democracy and a warning-cum-prediction of what most probably lies ahead. From dog-whistle racist rhetoric from the campaign and administration to fund-raising and judicial sleights of hand, there is shame and blame enough to go around. Pithy and profound, Fountain's political observations fly off the page in a torrent of mantra-worthy quotes, while his historical analyses stun with their depth of research and relevance. Along with Jon Meacham's The Soul of America (2018), Fountain's mix of salient lessons from the past and essential guideposts for the future is a must-have addition to the how did we get here canon of political scrutiny in and of the age of Trump.--Carol Haggas Copyright 2018 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
Truth is stranger than fiction in these linked reported essays about the 2016 presidential campaign.The book's title comes from a Robinson Jeffers poem, with the final word "Again" suggesting approximately 80-year cycles in which the United States reinvents itself through a cataclysmic event: the Civil War, the Great Depression, which spawned Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, and the shocking election of Donald Trump. Some of the essays appeared in the Guardian, where Fountain (Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, 2012, etc.)the winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prizeis a columnist. The book opens, naturally, at the beginning of 2016, as the author chronicles his journeys among the presidential candidates as they participated in the Iowa primaries. Hillary Clinton ("with the years has come a kind of dreadnought presence, queen of the fleet, thick armor plating and heavy guns") appears first, followed by Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders. Fountain provides useful context beyond each candidate's campaign with relevant historical information and also by introducing each essay with a monthly "Book of Days" that summarizes global, national, and local news headlines. As the author covers events much like an especially woke journalist, he slides gradually into his Third Reinvention thesis by showing the mutation of traditional presidential campaigning, grounded in a Frankenstein-like scenario during which a monsterespecially Trump but also Sandersturns against its inventor, represented by traditional political parties. Throughout the narrative, as a victory for Trump seems increasingly possible, Fountain savages him in ways many journalists would not. The author portrays Trump as a congenital liar, so far beyond hypocrisy that the author struggles to find a new word to describe him.For most readers, Fountain will offer fresh insights. While some readers may not agree with all of his conclusions, the author's masterful original phrasings make the book worthwhile, urgent, and timely. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.