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A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears)
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PublicAffairs 2020
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Description
A tiny American town's plans for radical self-government overlooked one hairy detail: no one told the bears.

Once upon a time, a group of libertarians got together and hatched the Free Town Project, a plan to take over an American town and completely eliminate its government. In 2004, they set their sights on Grafton, NH, a barely populated settlement with one paved road.

When they descended on Grafton, public funding for pretty much everything shrank: the fire department, the library, the schoolhouse. State and federal laws became meek suggestions, scarcely heard in the town's thick wilderness.

The anything-goes atmosphere soon caught the attention of Grafton's neighbors: the bears. Freedom-loving citizens ignored hunting laws and regulations on food disposal. They built a tent city in an effort to get off the grid. The bears smelled food and opportunity.

A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear is the sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying tale of what happens when a government disappears into the woods. Complete with gunplay, adventure, and backstabbing politicians, this is the ultimate story of a quintessential American experiment—to live free or die, perhaps from a bear."

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
09/15/2020
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781541788503
ASIN:
B083J1FXY8
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APA Citation (style guide)

Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. (2020). A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears). PublicAffairs.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. 2020. A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears). PublicAffairs.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling, A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears). PublicAffairs, 2020.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling. A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears). PublicAffairs, 2020. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Date Added:
Sep 11, 2020 20:06:36
Date Updated:
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      • bioText: Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling is a freelance journalist specializing in narrative features and investigative reporting. He has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, won a George Polk Award, and been voted Journalist of the Year by the Maine Press association, among numerous other honors. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, USA Today, Popular Science, Atavist Magazine, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Associated Press, and elsewhere. He lives in New Hampshire.
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shortDescription
How the tiny town of Grafton, NH, became a radical experiment in small government—until the bear attacks started.
Once upon a time, a group of libertarians got together and hatched the Free Town Project, a plan to take over an American town and completely eliminate its government. In 2004, Grafton, NH, a barely populated settlement with one paved road, turned that plan into reality.


Public funding for pretty much everything shrank: the fire department, the library, the schoolhouse. State and federal laws didn't disappear, but they got quieter: meek suggestions barely heard in the town's thick wilderness.


The bears, on the other hand, were increasingly visible. Grafton's freedom-loving citizens ignored hunting laws and regulations on food disposal. They built a tent city, in an effort to get off the grid. And with a large and growing local bear population, conflict became inevitable.


A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear is both a...

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title
A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear
fullDescription
A tiny American town's plans for radical self-government overlooked one hairy detail: no one told the bears.


Once upon a time, a group of libertarians got together and hatched the Free Town Project, a plan to take over an American town and completely eliminate its government. In 2004, they set their sights on Grafton, NH, a barely populated settlement with one paved road.


When they descended on Grafton, public funding for pretty much everything shrank: the fire department, the library, the schoolhouse. State and federal laws became meek suggestions, scarcely heard in the town's thick wilderness.


The anything-goes atmosphere soon caught the attention of Grafton's neighbors: the bears. Freedom-loving citizens ignored hunting laws and regulations on food disposal. They built a tent city in an effort to get off the grid. The bears smelled food and opportunity.


A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear is the sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying tale of what happens when a government disappears into the woods. Complete with gunplay, adventure, and backstabbing politicians, this is the ultimate story of a quintessential American experiment—to live free or die, perhaps from a bear."

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reviews
      • premium: True
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      • content:

        June 29, 2020
        Journalist Hongoltz-Hetling chronicles the libertarian takeover of Grafton, N.H., in his witty and precisely observed debut. In 2004, a group of libertarian activists launched a plan to transform the “rural, isolated community of about 560 homogenous households” into a “Free Town” where citizens could “traffic organs... hold duels... and organize so-called bum-fights,” among other “inalienable rights.” Spreading the word online, project leaders attracted like-minded individuals to Grafton and harnessed their voting power to defund public services, remove streetlights, and cut property taxes. Meanwhile, multiple factors including the underfunding of New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department, “bear-tolerant” wildlife conservation policies, and severe drought led to an increase in “problematic bear encounters” across the state. The situation came to a head in 2012 after a 300-pound bear attacked a Grafton woman on her porch and vigilante poachers undertook an “ursine genocide campaign.” Hongoltz-Hetling skillfully probes shortcomings and ironies in the libertarian philosophy of “unfettered personal and property rights,” and colorfully sketches Grafton residents including a former factory worker who purchased the town’s church and hears messages directly from God. The result is an entertaining and incisive portrait of political ideology run amok. Agent: Ross Harris, the Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 1, 2020
        Good-natured account of a New Hampshire town where living free and the possibility of dying go hand in hand. Magazine journalist Hongoltz-Hetling opens his narrative with a firefighter who holds government in contempt even if he draws a salary from it. The firefighter put out the word that the little burg in which he lived, "a flyspeck town buried in the woods of New Hampshire's western fringe," could be a paradise for libertarians, if only enough of them would move there and take control of--yes, the government. Libertarians arrived just in time for an infestation of hungry black bears. Enter a conundrum of libertarian logic: Bears pose a danger, but nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the government has the power to intervene. It's an argument, writes the author, that goes back to the Colonial era, when frontier settlers took it upon themselves, rather than the hated crown, to engage in self-defense. "Anti-tax, anti-law," the libertarians did what libertarians do: They argued over purity while trying to defund such things as the public library. The bears advanced their own arguments--and, according to a local bear authority, bears are smart, self-aware, and capable of cooperating "to enforce a bear justice system." Moreover, they had a local ally who was happy to feed them as well as a town that, while sheltering a few poachers and plenty of gun nuts, couldn't quite get it together to solve the problem. In the end, "the so-called Free Town" (and local tent city, since many of the newcomers lacked the means to buy property) project melted away. The bears were one thing, but the libertarians, in the end, decided they liked basketball courts, baseball fields, and even libraries and moved on. "They don't recognize," our firefighter concludes, "that the town was already free." An entertaining sendup of idealistic politics and the fatal flaws of overweening self-interest.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears)
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