What do wild bears and libertarians have in common?

In 2004 a group of libertarians founded the Free Town Project, a movement to take over a town and turn it into a libertarian utopia. After some research, the Free Towners decided that Grafton, New Hampshire, a town with a history of resistance to taxation that goes back to the American Revolution, seemed like the perfect place for their experiment.


Enter investigative reporter Matt Hongoltz-Hetling. Matt was in Grafton working on an unrelated story when he discovered, quite by chance, that the bears in the area were acting very strangely. He dug deeper and discovered surprising reasons for their behavior connected to the Free Town movement, a journey he details in his book, A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears).


Now, Julie and Eve talk to Matt about what happens when a group of outsiders undertakes “the boldest social experiment in modern American history,” why Grafton’s bears were eating its cats and attacking its people, and whether an insidious parasite may be contributing to the mayhem.


Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling is a freelance journalist specializing in narrative features and investigative reporting, and the author of A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears). 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. Matt's work has appeared in Foreign Policy, USA Today, Popular Science, Atavist Magazine, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The Associated Press, and elsewhere.




A Libertarian Walks Into a Bear: The Utopian Plot to Liberate an American Town (And Some Bears)


"[A] witty and precisely observed debut....Hongoltz-Hetling skillfully probes shortcomings and ironies in the libertarian philosophy....The result is an entertaining and incisive portrait of political ideology run amok." ―Publishers Weekly


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


"[Hongoltz-Hetling] reconstructs a remarkable, and remarkably strange, episode in recent history....The resulting narrative is simultaneously hilarious, poignant, and deeply unsettling." ―The New Republic


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Matthew Hongoltz-Hetling

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

Grafton, New Hampshire

Free Town Project

Free State Project

Eve Yohalem

Julie Sternberg

Book Dreams Podcast

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