Mind-boggling that this is a real place, with real people (and real bears). How does one begin to describe a book like this? I don’t know. If it wasn’t so early in the year, I might be tempted to review amnesty out of it and just point you in the direction of the many great reviews that have already been written about it, including one by our very own andtheIToldYouSos.
Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling is a long form journalist who spent a lot of time in the small town of Grafton, New Hampshire, learning about the collision of weirdness that occurred there, when the the anti-tax history of the town, some enterprising bears, and a group of libertarians hell bent on creating a place to live where anyone could be free to do anything, even if that thing was feeding the local wildlife, owning one hundred guns, or cannibalism. The extreme individualist mindset of the (mostly) men of the Free Town Project was fascinating to me, and I was so busy being continually amazed by what was being described in the book, that I mostly forgot to be angry. H-H’s writing is very tongue in cheek, and while he has respect for his subjects, he also doesn’t hesitate to poke a little fun.
“Instead of building from scratch, they would harness the power and infrastructure of an existing town–just as a rabies parasite can co-opt the brain of a much larger organism and force it to work against its own interests, the libertarians planned to apply just a little bit of pressure in such a way that an entire town could be steered toward liberty.”
“Free State Project organizers tried to relieve this tension by disassociating themselves from the politically problematic Larry Pendarvises of the world. One such prominent Free Stateer was Ian Freeman. On the plus side, Freeman hosted a popular liberty-themed podcast with an international reach that attracted many New Hampshire residents, but on the minus side, he had a long-standing belief that minors could consent to sexual relationships with adults.”
And don’t forget about the bears! As I think the author aptly shows, Grafton’s bears are not like other bears. They are not afraid of people, and the response in the town’s citizens to their encroachment (encouraged by lax to nonexistent human/wildlife management laws and crumbling town infrastructure) ranges from feeding them illegally to illegally slaughtering them as they hibernate for the winter. The less said about the bears here, and specifics, the better. It really is a surprise on every page you must experience for yourself.
Highly recommend this one.