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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2020 Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling (P)2020 PublicAffairs

Critic Reviews

"Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling's wild and wonderful blend of small-town America and large-scale ideals, imparted with humor and insight reminiscent of Sarah Vowell and Bill Bryson, is an unpredictable and endlessly fascinating feat of immersive reporting, filled with singular characters and doughnut-eating bears." (Michael Finkel, best-selling author of The Stranger in the Woods)

"An entertaining sendup of idealistic politics and the fatal flaws of overweening self-interest." (Kirkus)

"Since the beginning, Americans have been fighting about the balance between individual liberty and the common good. Hongoltz-Hetling shows what can happen when one rural New Hampshire town went to the libertarian extreme in this madcap tale that zig-zags between tragedy and farce, with the possibility of being eaten." (Colin Woodard, New York Times best-selling author of American Nations and Union)

What listeners say about A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear

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  • RedEnvoy05
  • 27-11-2020

Entertaining and surprising

I live in Enfield NH. Not far from Grafton. I knew some of the details from this book, but found it fascinating. For anybody who lives in New Hampshire or is just interested in the state this is a must read. I'm sure the Grafton bears have made their way to our bird feeder a time or two. one was destroyed. The second time it was a bit sturdier so could be repaired. I enjoyed the book and recommend it.

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  • Gus Jacovazzo
  • 23-11-2020

A delightful story about exhausting people

A delightful story about exhausting people that desperately needs to be a Coen Brothers movie

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-11-2020

Many interesting bits, but prose often annoying

The book seems to have been reasonably well researched and I learned many interesting things. it was remarkably lacking in organization and I got the feeling that the writer was trying too hard to be entertaining. The narrative itself was interesting enough and did not require embellishment. I did learn a good bit about bears and libertarians however and found the book to be overall worthwhile

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  • BranWick
  • 02-11-2020

Fun!

This was a most interesting story with a cast full of colorful characters. The narrator was absolutely perfect for this!

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  • Susan Pruden
  • 31-10-2020

Enjoyable and entertaining

I recommend listening to this at the same time someone else listens to it. Trust me, you’ll want to talk to someone about some of the stuff you read. An absolutely fascinating book.

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  • Kenny
  • 19-10-2020

Short and sweet

This book feels timely with the current admin's response to the covid pandemic. It's part comedy, part tragedy. And all around fun read.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-10-2020

Rich, funny and incredibly human

This is a story brought to life through pitch-perfect descriptions of the people in the community. Brilliant non-fiction, enjoyably narrated. Would strongly recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in politics, conservation, or internet communities.

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