Review Essay

Still Crazy After All These Years

America’s Long History of Political Delusion

In This Review

Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History
By Kurt Andersen
Random House, 2017, 480 pp. Purchase

In the spring of 2011, Donald Trump began suggesting that U.S. President Barack Obama had not been born in the United States. “Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” Trump asked on ABC’s The View. “I would love to see it produced,” he told Fox News’ On the Record. “I’m starting to think that he was not born here,” he announced on NBC’s Today Show. Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, Trump kept repeating his nonsense. To this day, polls show that some 70 percent of registered Republicans doubt Obama’s citizenship. Welcome to what Kurt Andersen calls “Fantasyland.” 

In his new book, Andersen takes a dizzy, mordant trip through five centuries of magical thinking, bringing a novelist’s gaze to make-believe Americana. The “hucksters” and the “suckers” tumble through the pages. John Winthrop announces a “City upon a Hill,” with nothing less than the future

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