Beautiful Country Burn Again is a whirling journey centered on a knotty, academic equation that Fountain believes is both the cause of America’s tensions and the impetus for constant reinvention ... [Fountain] brandishes a full array of literary tools, including song, verse, historical anecdotes, piles of research and plenty of satisfying takedowns to keep you on his ride ... Many will be tempted to dismiss Beautiful Country as another angry critique of Trump. They would be remiss ... No one gets out of his book unscathed ... Those who savor such viciousness will be delighted. His brutal observations could easily be the main feature of his work, yet Fountain has more important things to say and more ingenious ways to say them.
Fountain brings a unique and thoughtful assessment to the subject matter. With fluid, captivating writing and hilarious quotes and descriptions, he details each candidate’s foibles, blithely ticking off each month of the campaign ... Fountain begins each chapter with a Book of Days section, a collection of political and cultural notes on events and statements that captured the zeitgeist of that month. At first I thought it was just too eclectic, but as the months rolled on, I sensed an underlying message. That message holds the many moving parts of 2016’s politics together ... It’s not a new message; many other writers have offered similar versions. But not only is Fountain more entertaining, he more clearly illustrates how a cultural undercurrent of divisive economic interests, which has caused this nation to go up in flames in the past, is once again driving a populist surge against the status quo.
[Fountain's] eye for the absurd and ability to draw attention to the sheer strangeness of America made him a perfect observer of 2016: when politics met reality TV ... Two years on, in the whirling chaos of the Trumpian news cycle, [Fountain's] election-year commentaries could have seemed faded, almost quaint mementos. But in book form, expanded, they live up to his own description: they are both a diagnosis of America’s symptoms of stress and a record of developing crisis ... Funny and also horrifying, Fountain has spectacular historical reach.