A former attorney and author of the novel Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Ben Fountain dissects the 2016 United States presidential campaign in a series of passionate essays. Coupling historical context with current events, Fountain argues that the country is facing a deep existential crisis. He believes that only twice before in U.S. history--the Civil War and the Great Depression--has a crisis of this level occurred. And each time, "the United States has had to reinvent itself to survive as a plausibly genuine constitutional democracy." Fountain guides his readers chronologically from January through December, from the Iowa Caucuses through the weeks following the election. He attends rallies, the NRA convention, the parties' national conventions, taking a front-row seat to the events that define that extraordinary year. Along the tumultuous journey he delves into pertinent chapters of American history such as the Southern strategy, the Vietnam War, the Occupy movement and their relationship to the state of affairs in 2016.
His words are emotional and powerful. While Donald Trump and those who enable him are primary targets, no one escapes his criticism, including much of the American electorate. Beautiful Country Burn Again has the potential to arm the body politic with their greatest weapon--knowledge. --Jen Forbus, freelancer