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Beautiful Country Burn Again

Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution
Narrated by: Ron Butler
Length: 14 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: History, 21st Century
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

In a sweeping work of reportage set over the course of 2016, New York Times best-selling author Ben Fountain recounts a surreal year of politics and an exploration of the third American existential crisis.

Twice before in its history, the US 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 the US 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.

©2018 Ben Fountain (P)2018 HarperCollins Publishers

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Profile Image for Gerald Moore
  • Gerald Moore
  • 01-11-18

Must read

Fountain takes all those thoughts, ideas and suspicions that have been floating around in your head since Clinton was elected and makes them coherent, hangs them on a framework and lights them up. It’s not a pretty sight but it is real and it’s ours to live with or modify if that’s even possible short of a national disaster.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • David McGrath
  • 28-10-18

brilliant

if you want to know how we ended up in this mess, this book will open your eyes. brilliantly done.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Locuto
  • 05-11-18

Completely brilliant, with exceptional narration.

Ben Fountain hits a tonal sweet spot between Theodore H. White and Hunter S. Thompson in this scholarly yet vivid and accessible analysis of American political self-hosification. It's a courageous antidote to the toxic levels of partisan bullshit in which we now dog-paddle. I also really like the overall structure -- news bulletins nicely leavening the deeper delves.

The Chickenhawk chapter alone is Pulitzer material. In it, Fountain uses Ambrose Bierce to illuminate not only our country's horrific history of war, but our devolving attitude toward waging it.

Sometimes you just need to clear the deck and acknowledge a great truth in the world. This is one of those times. I expect BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY to win some major awards. Every American should read it and talk about it.

Ron Butler deserves a lot of credit here too, for perfect inflection throughout, and for subtly mimicking the well-known voices of our age -- Bill Clinton, for example -- without overdoing it. My wife and I will probably listen to this book again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Steelblue
  • 21-08-19

Many Problems; Few Solutions

Within the first chapter or two, I wondered if I would have to fasten my seatbelt for a rollercoaster rant that was gathering in front of me. But once suitably secured-a few chapters later-I began to feel I wouldn't be only ranted at. Serious informational meat was overcoming the initial caterwauling. Mr. Fountain took awhile to get there, but there's a lot of deep-dive information here from a different perspective.

However, in enumerating the vast problems we as a society face, the story left me with far too few solutions or suggestions of solutions to begin to tackle these problems. I know it's easier to point out our collective failings but more difficult to point toward the direction where we might begin to correct those failings. Yet there's a lot to be learned in just casting light on those issues. Hopefully, the reader will be able to parse some answers from the listing of our failings.

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  • dan
  • 19-04-19

scorching history of America's Failure to Evolve

I first read Ben Fountain's "Long Half-time" which I put off for nearly a year, and was then captivated by his insight into America's obsession with mindless entertainments. I quickly looked for another of his insightful books and was blown away by his political journalization of the rise and fall of American Democracy in 2016. He does not direct the blame but distributes it amount all the players and the futility of American voters lost between the new politics of win at all costs and the monopoly rich demigods who control it.

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  • Researcher
  • 13-12-18

Powerful, honest. and informative view of America

profound insight into America. Well written, even riveting performance provides insights into both political parties.

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  • Mike Sime
  • 21-11-18

Good not great

Good facts, interesting read then brutal closing. I wish I would have skipped last chapter, was a bad end to what felt like a balanced book up until then.