Politics leave me cold to be honest. All the hoopla that emanates from over the pond is even worse than ours. Having said that, the title Beautiful Country Burn Again pricked my conscience, and I begun the rather difficult task of reading all about Trump’s rise to power and the state of the country that voted for him.

The prologue left me almost gasping with a sort of unrequited angst, a feeling of “Whoa there, calm down.” I really thought that the author, Ben Fountain, a former attorney in America, disliked President Trump so much that he could do him real harm. However, what the book really amounts to is a catalogue of disasters that have befallen the country that voted for him.

If disliking Donald Trump, and his ever-changing entourage, excites your palette, then this is the book for you. It details with amazing clarity things that we had either forgotten about or never heard about in the first place. It seems almost like the author has recorded all news items since Trump took over, and compiled this 400-page dossier of invective and abuse to delight detractors, based on these self-same items.

I have to say that for the politically minded, or the just plain biased amongst us, this book reads rather well. It tells us of the insidious way that the population that voted for Trump were sold on the lies, promises, misleading directives and inside dealing with the rich sponsors, those 10% who own virtually everything and basically cock-a-snoot at anyone else not in their league. Maybe I should not use the word, but it seems, after reading this book, that a weird sort of dictatorial presidency is currently in power.

Did I enjoy the book? No, I didn’t at all, but having said that, there are these news items that we, the public, get fed by the media everyday, and to our shame, we also tend to instantly forget them. This book goes some way to counter that sort of media coverage by reminding us once again.

So, it deftly informs the reader about how the American Dream is manipulated, altered to suit, and spoon-fed to the gullible populace, who accept all this as their status quo, with startling equanimity.

I personally find all the bluster, posing, and insane rhetoric that is daily expressed from the USA very hard to deal with. Maybe that is how politics works, and I use the word ‘works’ very loosely here. It appears we might be suffering the same delusional regime in this nation as well.

The book is well written I have to say, the research that has gone into it is especially detailed, but the subject matter leaves a lot to be desired. We are told this book is a National Book Critics Circle Award Winner and a National Book Award Finalist, so if these grandiose titles are anything like the vacuous entertainment award season offerings we get usually fed, then maybe it might not be worth reading anyway. Naturally, it might help if you are an American as well.

Reg Seward 2/1

Beautiful Country Burn Again by Ben Fountain
Canongate Books 9781786892003 pbk Nov 2018