Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling writes that his book, A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear, tells the “strange-but-true story of Grafton, N.H., a small town that became the nexus of a collision between bears, libertarians, guns, doughnuts, parasites, firecrackers, taxes and one angry llama.” In The Washington Monthly,reviewer Elizabeth Austin says
the story is more serious than the author reckons because it is "the American character in an ant farm. This New England hamlet twines together the most significant strands in our history: tax aversion, religious fervor, veneration of individual liberty, and a deep vein of cantankerousness, all counterbalanced by our equally powerful belief that we are on a God-given mission to establish on this continent a shining City on the Hill. In Grafton, we find a microcosm of the constant American tension between 'Don’t Tread on Me' and 'E Pluribus Unum'."
|County and town of Grafton (Wikipedia)|
The author was following a motif, Austin writes: "For years now, reporters and pundits have chosen to focus on the style, rather than the policy substance, of the growing libertarian right. Again and again, we read stories of rural rubes clad head to toe in MAGA swag, hunched over chipped cutlery in dingy diners, wielding biscuits to wipe the last of the sausage gravy from their oversized plates while vociferously proclaiming that taxation is theft and inveighing against the nanny state. . . . Had the author not chosen snark over substance, his book could have served as a peculiarly timely cautionary tale, because the conflicting philosophical principles that drive this story are central to understanding American politics today. The differences between the libertarian stumblebums who moved to Grafton and the staff of the Koch-funded Cato Institute are mostly sartorial. And the sad outcomes of Grafton’s wacky social experiment are now being repeated in American communities every single day."
Austin says the book is especially timely in a pandemic: "We see clearly the chaos that can be created when a significant chunk of the community rejects the strictures of government, science, and the notion of community itself."