In a sweeping work of reportage set over the course of 2016, New York Times bestselling author Ben Fountain recounts a surreal year of politics and an exploration of the third American existential crisis
Twice before in its history, the United States has been faced with a crisis so severe it was forced to reinvent itself in order to survive: first, the struggle over slavery, culminating in the Civil War, and the second, the Great Depression, which led to President Roosevelt’s New Deal and the establishment of America as a social-democratic state. In a sequence of essays that excavate the past while laying bare the political upheaval of 2016, Ben Fountain argues that the United States may be facing a third existential crisis, one that will require a “burning” of the old order as America attempts to remake itself.
Beautiful Country Burn Again narrates a shocking year in American politics, moving from the early days of the Iowa Caucus to the crystalizing moments of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, and culminating in the aftershocks of the weeks following election night. Along the way, Fountain probes deeply into history, illuminating the forces and watershed moments of the past that mirror and precipitated the present, from the hollowed-out notion of the American Dream, to Richard Nixon’s southern strategy, to our weaponized new conception of American exceptionalism, to the cult of celebrity that gave rise to Donald Trump.
In an urgent and deeply incisive voice, Ben Fountain has fused history and the present day to paint a startling portrait of the state of our nation. Beautiful Country Burn Again is a searing indictment of how we came to this point, and where we may be headed.
Ben Fountain was born in Chapel Hill and grew up in the tobacco country of eastern North Carolina. A former practicing attorney, he is the author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction, and the novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award and a finalist for the National Book Award. Billy Lynn was adapted into a feature film directed by three-time Oscar winner Ang Lee, and his work has been translated into over twenty languages. His series of essays published in The Guardian on the 2016 U.S. presidential election was subsequently nominated by the editors of The Guardian for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife of 32 years, Sharon Fountain.
Place of Birth:
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
B.A. in English, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1980; J.D., Duke University School of Law, 1983
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Third Reinvention 1
Book of Days: January 13
Iowa 2016: Riding the Roadkill Express 19
Book of Days: February 99
The Phony in American Politics 107
Book of Days: March 121
American Crossroads: Reagan, Trump, and the Devil Down South 127
Book of Days: April 139
American Exceptionalism and the Great Game: At Play in the Fields of the Lord 143
Book of Days: May 157
Doing the Chickenhawk with Trump: Talking Fast and Loose in the Time of Endless War 163
Book of Days: June 177
Cheerleaders of the Star-Spangled Apocalypse: Fear and Loathing with the NRA in Louisville, Kentucky 183
Book of Days: July 201
Cleveland Fear Factory 209
Book of Days: August 237
Hillary Doesn't Live Here Anymore 245
Book of Days: September 295
Two American Dreams 305
Book of Days: October 329
The Long Good Deal 341
Book of Days: November 367
Trump Rising: King Donald Saddles Up with the Wrecking Crew 377
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