The best pop culture books

47 authors have picked their favorite books about pop culture and why they recommend each book.

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The Coddling of the American Mind

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Book cover of The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

This book is so different from the other books on my list. I just finished reading this book recently. I found it completely fascinating. It talks about how our newer generation has changed how we listen, talk and feel. I find that this is happening in relationships as well. This book is a weave of communication, how we take things way too personally and how this affects how we interact with others in life and how we relate to our feelings. I think this book can help how we listen, share and have internal boundaries. While reading this book I didn’t realize how much I needed it. I wish all teachers, administration of all schools, and parents would read this book. 

The Coddling of the American Mind

By Greg Lukianoff, Jonathan Haidt,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Coddling of the American Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

New York Times Bestseller * Finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Nonfiction * A New York Times Notable Book * Bloomberg Best Book of 2018

"Their distinctive contribution to the higher-education debate is to meet safetyism on its own, psychological turf . . . Lukianoff and Haidt tell us that safetyism undermines the freedom of inquiry and speech that are indispensable to universities." -Jonathan Marks, Commentary

"The remedies the book outlines should be considered on college campuses, among parents of current and future students, and by anyone longing for a more sane society." -Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Something…


Who am I?

I have been practicing psychotherapy since 1999. I started reading self-help books when I was 19 years old in college because I wanted to know more about myself, why I felt the way I did at times, why I felt stuck at times and how I could feel empowered to make changes. Sadly many books don’t tell you what you can do to change and that is why I wrote my book. The books I am sharing with you have had big effects on my thinking and therefore my behavior. For it is in how we think, we act in our lives and with others. These books help you look at you.


I wrote...

The Stressless Brain

By Madhur-Nain Webster,

Book cover of The Stressless Brain

What is my book about?

In The Stressless Brain, I detail the importance of building a relationship with yourself through the use of Kundalini Meditation. By incorporating yogic technology into your life, you can learn to govern your thoughts and emotions in a mindful manner. Meditation offers you the tools to view your life with clarity so that you can respond, rather than react, to stressful situations.

Bridging the worlds of yogic meditation, psychology, and science, The Stressless Brain will help you thoroughly understand stress and anxiety and how it affects your entire being: body, mind, and soul.  Whether you are experiencing mental hardships from your professional, personal, or romantic life, my objective is for you to find answers within yourself and make any necessary changes — all through the regular practice of meditation.

Book cover of Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia

This is a page-turner that I read in one go from front to finish. It reads like a thriller and keeps you hooked, although it is also a very serious analysis of contemporary Russia by one of the UK’s most skilled journalists and authors. It is as thrilling as it is frightening because there are so many signs that western countries are heading in a similar direction—a country that “is a dictatorship in the morning, a democracy at lunch, an oligarchy by suppertime, while, backstage, oil companies are expropriated, journalists killed, billions siphoned away”, as Peter put it in one of his memorable phrases.

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

By Peter Pomerantsev,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the new Russia, even dictatorship is a reality show. Professional killers with the souls of artists, would-be theater directors turned Kremlin puppet-masters, suicidal supermodels, Hell's Angels who hallucinate themselves as holy warriors, and oligarch revolutionaries: welcome to the glittering, surreal heart of twenty-first-century Russia. It is a world erupting with new money and new power, changing so fast it breaks all sense of reality, home to a form of dictatorship--far subtler than twentieth-century strains--that is rapidly rising to challenge the West. When British producer Peter Pomerantsev plunges into the booming Russian TV industry, he gains access to every nook…


Who am I?

I have had a lifelong interest in history and in particular the history of democracy. When I became a cognitive scientist, I initially studied basic memory processes using a mix of computer simulations and experimentation. I became interested in misinformation during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 when the purported “Weapons of Mass Destruction” never materialized but large segments of the American public continued to believe in their existence. Some 20 years later, misinformation has taken center stage in public life and has metastasized into a danger to democracy in many countries around the world. The books on this list should present a warning and inspiration to all of us.


I wrote...

The Debunking Handbook 2020

By Stephan Lewandowsky, And Colleagues,

Book cover of The Debunking Handbook 2020

What is my book about?

This is one of several free handbooks that I have published with colleagues during the last few years that provide practical and simple-to-use information about how to debunk misinformation and conspiracy theories.

As a cognitive scientist, I am intrigued by misinformation because it is “sticky” – that is, when it is corrected, people may still continue to rely on it even if they say that the information is now wrong. This is because our mind finds it difficult to let go of information—even if it is false—if we don’t know what to replace it with. The Debunking Handbook explains how we can maximize the effectiveness of corrections so we can deal with misinformation.

This book is available for free here.

Kansai Cool

By Christal Whelan,

Book cover of Kansai Cool: A Journey Into the Cultural Heartland of Japan

It is impossible to talk about gaming without mentioning the influence Japanese culture has had on the pastime. Specifically, Nintendo. This collection of essays and photos offers an anthropologist’s view to the Kansai region of Western Japan, and helps gamers (and travelers) understand the complex culture in which Nintendo is based.

Kansai Cool

By Christal Whelan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kansai Cool as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Kansai Cool anthropologist, writer and filmmaker Christal Whelan offers profound insights in the only collection of essays to focus on Kansai, Japan's ancient heartland. Kansai ; the region in Western Japan that boasts the ancient capitals of Kyoto and Nara, the bustling commercial city of Osaka and the cosmopolitan port city of Kobe ; has a character all its own, right down to its dialect, mannerisms, and cuisine. It is home to some of Japan's oldest history and an area where the country's most time-honored arts and crafts still thrive. Worldly and otherworldly, spirited and spiritual, trendy and traditional,…


Who am I?

Doug Walsh is the author of over one hundred officially licensed video game strategy guides for BradyGames and Prima Games. From Diablo to Zelda, his work covered nearly every major gaming franchise for two decades.


I wrote...

The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides

By Doug Walsh,

Book cover of The Walkthrough: Insider Tales from a Life in Strategy Guides

What is my book about?

One part memoir and one part industry tell-all, The Walkthrough takes players on an entertaining march through gaming’s recent history, from the dawn of the PlayStation to the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Switch. Follow along as Walsh retraces his career and reveals how the books were made, what it was like writing guides to some of the industry’s most celebrated — and derided — titles, and why the biggest publishers of guidebooks are no longer around.

Walsh devotes entire chapters to many of gaming’s most popular franchises, including Tony Hawk’s Pro SkaterGears of War, and Diabloamong othersFrom inauspicious beginnings with Daikatana to authoring the books for the entire Bioshock trilogy, with plenty of highs, lows, and Warp Pipes along the way, Walsh delivers a rare treat to twenty-first-century gamers. The Walkthrough is sure to satisfy the curiosity of anyone who grew up with the works of BradyGames and Prima Games sprawled across their laps.

Book cover of The Official Preppy Handbook

I find WASP culture absurd and fascinating. I love that rich people, really rich people, have a fixation with stickers, slapping abbreviations for Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket or East Hampton on their luxury vehicles even though said luxury vehicles, parked in said locales, really should say it all. Such is the taxonomy writ large in Lisa Birnbach’s seminal Preppy Handbook, which explores other WASP signifiers such as “the politics of monogramming,” the elevation of old clothes over new, and what your choice of private schools, charities and vacation spots says about you. Pairs well with Take Ivy, a cult photography book by the Japanese photographer T. Hayashida, who spent the early-to-mid 1960s photographing American preps on college campuses — with prep soon becoming the rage in the Japan’s hipster Ginza district.

The Official Preppy Handbook

By Lisa Birnbach,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Official Preppy Handbook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A facetious guide to emulating the look, speech patterns, thinking, and lifestyle of those who attend prep schools and are a part of high society


Who am I?

Maureen Callahan is a New York Times bestselling author, award-winning investigative journalist, columnist, and commentator. She has covered everything from pop culture to politics. Her writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, New York, Spin, and the New York Post, where she is Critic-at-Large. She lives in New York. For Shepherd, Callahan has selected her favorite books about American pop culture, which is currently dominated by her favorite subgenre, true crime.


I wrote...

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

By Maureen Callahan,

Book cover of American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

What is my book about?

Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. Jeffrey Dahmer. The names of notorious serial killers are usually well-known; they echo in the news and in public consciousness. But most people have never heard of Israel Keyes, one of the most ambitious and terrifying serial killers in modern history. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as a force of pure evil, Keyes was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried kill kits--cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools--in remote locations across the country. Over the course of fourteen years, Keyes would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home to Alaska, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter.

Where the Girls Are

By Susan J. Douglas,

Book cover of Where the Girls Are: Growing Up Female with the Mass Media

Where the Girls Are is about a particular generation of women growing up in post War America, and the impact popular media had on their lives, both for good and for bad. It weaves wonderfully smart, often funny, always engagingly written discussions of pop music, movies, and television shows with Douglas’s own experiences at the time. It’s unabashedly feminist—but it isn’t a speech or a political manifesto. It’s an exploration of the push-pull of growing up female at a transitional time, a time in which attitudes toward women were changing, unevenly, and how pop culture reflected the tensions of the times. This book is history, memoir, sociology, media studies, all at once – immensely informative and very entertaining.

Where the Girls Are

By Susan J. Douglas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Where the Girls Are as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Media critic Douglas deconstructs the ambiguous messages sent to American women via TV programs, popular music, advertising, and nightly news reporting over the last 40 years, and fathoms their influence on her own life and the lives of her contemporaries. Photos.


Who am I?

I was born in 1947, in the first wave of the baby boom, and was part of the first generation to grow up immersed in television, movies, and popular music. I have always felt the force of pop culture in my life.  But it was only at a certain point that it became something that I felt I could write about and be taken seriously. Writers like Pauline Kael made it possible for me because they obviously adored popular culture but they neither puffed it up nor dumbed it down. They wrote about it with intelligence, honesty, and curiosity and also as a barometer of where people were at and where society was going. That’s what I’ve aimed at in my own writing, from my books on the male and female body to those on politics and the media to my most recent exploration of the impact of television on our lives.


I wrote...

TV

By Susan Bordo,

Book cover of TV

What is my book about?

Once upon a time, the news was only 15 minutes long and middle-class families huddled around a tiny black-and-white screen, TV dinners on their laps, awaiting weekly sitcoms that depicted an all-white world in which mom wore pearls and heels as she baked endless pies. If this seems a distant past, that's a measure of just how much TV has changed-and changed us.

Weaving together personal memoir, social and political history, and reflecting on key moments in the history of news broadcasting and prime time entertainment, Susan Bordo opens up the 75-year-old time-capsule that is TV and illustrates what a constant companion and dominant cultural force television has been, for good and for bad, in carrying us from the McCarthy hearings and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to Mad MenKilling Eve, and the emergence of our first reality TV president.

The Image

By Daniel J. Boorstin,

Book cover of The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America

Boorstin’s political perspective is conservative, but as a media critic he introduced one of the most significant concepts for understanding, not only our media-saturated culture in general, but the abuses of right-wing television, such as FOX. His concept of the ‘pseudo-event’ is one that I have found incredibly useful in teaching and thinking over the years. A pseudo-event is something that acquires its reality and power not because it is based on fact, but simply because the media has reported it, repeated it, exaggerated it, re-played it, made a mantra of it. Ring a bell? “Email Scandal”? “No Collusion, No Obstruction”? Boorstin also talks about the human pseudo-event, which is essentially the creation of celebrities whose fame is due neither to talent or any other special quality but simply to the fact that they become well-known. Boorstin published these insights in 1960!  I think he’d feel both intellectually validated and…

The Image

By Daniel J. Boorstin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Image as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First published in 1962, this wonderfully provocative book introduced the notion of “pseudo-events”—events such as press conferences and presidential debates, which are manufactured solely in order to be reported—and the contemporary definition of celebrity as “a person who is known for his well-knownness.” Since then Daniel J. Boorstin’s prophetic vision of an America inundated by its own illusions has become an essential resource for any reader who wants to distinguish the manifold deceptions of our culture from its few enduring truths.


Who am I?

I was born in 1947, in the first wave of the baby boom, and was part of the first generation to grow up immersed in television, movies, and popular music. I have always felt the force of pop culture in my life.  But it was only at a certain point that it became something that I felt I could write about and be taken seriously. Writers like Pauline Kael made it possible for me because they obviously adored popular culture but they neither puffed it up nor dumbed it down. They wrote about it with intelligence, honesty, and curiosity and also as a barometer of where people were at and where society was going. That’s what I’ve aimed at in my own writing, from my books on the male and female body to those on politics and the media to my most recent exploration of the impact of television on our lives.


I wrote...

TV

By Susan Bordo,

Book cover of TV

What is my book about?

Once upon a time, the news was only 15 minutes long and middle-class families huddled around a tiny black-and-white screen, TV dinners on their laps, awaiting weekly sitcoms that depicted an all-white world in which mom wore pearls and heels as she baked endless pies. If this seems a distant past, that's a measure of just how much TV has changed-and changed us.

Weaving together personal memoir, social and political history, and reflecting on key moments in the history of news broadcasting and prime time entertainment, Susan Bordo opens up the 75-year-old time-capsule that is TV and illustrates what a constant companion and dominant cultural force television has been, for good and for bad, in carrying us from the McCarthy hearings and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet to Mad MenKilling Eve, and the emergence of our first reality TV president.

"There Is a North"

By John L. Brooke,

Book cover of "There Is a North": Fugitive Slaves, Political Crisis, and Cultural Transformation in the Coming of the Civil War

Southerners rarely spoke of "the South" until slavery began to be threatened in the 1840s; slavery made the South. The North was far more fragmented--until an anti-slavery culture took hold in the 1850s. Brooke is highly sensitive to the role of popular culture in forging that consensus--not just Uncle Tom's Cabin, the most influential novel in American history, but local theatricals and the poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier. Here was the original, unbridgeable division between red and blue states.

"There Is a North"

By John L. Brooke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked "There Is a North" as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How does political change take hold? In the 1850s, politicians and abolitionists despaired, complaining that the "North, the poor timid, mercenary, driveling North" offered no forceful opposition to the power of the slaveholding South. And yet, as John L. Brooke proves, the North did change. Inspired by brave fugitives who escaped slavery and the cultural craze that was Uncle Tom's Cabin, the North rose up to battle slavery, ultimately waging the bloody Civil War.

While Lincoln's alleged quip about the little woman who started the big war has been oft-repeated, scholars have not fully explained the dynamics between politics and…


Who am I?

I am a journalist and NYU professor whose primary field is American foreign policy. As a biographer, however, I am drawn to American history and, increasingly, to the history of liberalism. I am now writing a biography of that arch-liberal, Hubert Humphrey. My actual subject thus appears to be wars of ideas. I began reading in-depth about the 1850s, when the question of slavery divided the nation in half, while writing a short biography of Judah Benjamin, Secretary of State of the Confederacy. (Judah Benjamin: Counselor To The Confederacy will be published in October.) It was the decade in which the tectonic fault upon which the nation was built erupted to the surface. There's a book for me in there somewhere, but I haven't yet found it.


I wrote...

What Was Liberalism?: The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

By James Traub,

Book cover of What Was Liberalism?: The Past, Present, and Promise of a Noble Idea

What is my book about?

I wrote this book to explain what, exactly, is threatened by "illiberal populists" like Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Narendra Modi. All were elected more or less fairly--that is, democratically. Yet all wield their majorities against the values and institutions that constitute "liberal democracy"--the rule of law, political and economic liberty, the autonomy of the judiciary. These principles are inherently in tension with majoritarianism and must at times be protected from it.

I trace the origins of liberalism to the American and French revolutions, through the works of seminal figures like Mill and Tocqueville, and then to FDR, whose liberalism encompassed an affirmative role for the state as a guarantor of economic and social justice. Then I seek to explain why the willingness to abide by liberal restraints has faltered and even failed in so many democracies. I ask whether we should now regard liberalism as a relic of the more coherent--and homogeneous--society of the twentieth century. If not, what is to be done?

Don't Make Me Pull Over!

By Richard Ratay,

Book cover of Don't Make Me Pull Over!: An Informal History of the Family Road Trip

It’s one thing to take a road trip alone or with a partner or friend. It’s quite another to take the family, especially younger kids. Richard Ratay, an advertising copywriter, details the history of the family road trip in an entertaining and vivid manner. His anecdotes from years on the road with his family are at times comical, heart-warming, and awkward. Ratay puts the love-hate relationship many have with such adventures on full display, lending more clues why these journeys are perhaps best recalled from the perspective of time.

Don't Make Me Pull Over!

By Richard Ratay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Don't Make Me Pull Over! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A lighthearted, entertaining trip down Memory Lane" (Kirkus Reviews), Don't Make Me Pull Over! offers a nostalgic look at the golden age of family road trips-before portable DVD players, smartphones, and Google Maps.

The birth of America's first interstate highways in the 1950s hit the gas pedal on the road trip phenomenon and families were soon streaming-sans seatbelts!-to a range of sometimes stirring, sometimes wacky locations. In the days before cheap air travel, families didn't so much take vacations as survive them. Between home and destination lay thousands of miles and dozens of annoyances, and with his family Richard Ratay…


Who am I?

Like many road warriors, Kevin Shay experienced his first taste of highway travels through his family, piling into a station wagon at a young age to journey several thousand miles in a week or so. He learned how to entertain himself for long hours without an iPod or cellphone. As a journalist, he wrote travel articles for a variety of publications, as well as a travel guidebook on North Texas. He has traveled through 48 states and more than 30 countries, logging more than 200,000 miles in a variety of vehicles and his own feet. He also produced a 19-minute documentary, Searching for Something in the Middle of Nowhere, based on the Mad, Mad Trip book.


I wrote...

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Trip: On the Road of the Longest Two-Week Family Road Trip in History

By Kevin James Shay,

Book cover of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Trip: On the Road of the Longest Two-Week Family Road Trip in History

What is my book about?

In the summer of 2013, journalist Kevin James Shay was ready for a different kind of two-week family vacation. His kids had reached the ages where they sought their independence. They had been to Disney and the likes. A single dad, Shay wanted to take his kids on a trip they would really remember. So they left the Washington, D.C., area in Shay’s trusty 2001 Honda CRV that had about 165,000 miles, with the rough idea of somehow reaching the Pacific Ocean. Covering 6,950 miles in 17 days, they set a record for the longest family road trip in a roughly two-week span, certified by RecordSetter, the Wikipedia generation's version of Guinness World Records.

The book attempts to humorously recall that odyssey, while offering historical references, tips, resources, and other information to help others plan their own Great American Adventure. 

Black Popular Culture

By Michele Wallace,

Book cover of Black Popular Culture

I am recommending this book, because it is the first edited volume, and, really, the first academic book to directly engage black popular culture as a field of study. It was avant-garde. It gave a name to cultural productions that, at that time, during my first semester of graduate school in 1997, I had no idea had a collective name. I love this book, because I encountered it simultaneously to learning concepts like “high” and “low” art. The book, in my opinion, made a compelling argument for why the popular, the folk, the vernacular, and so-called “low” art matters.

Black Popular Culture

By Michele Wallace,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Popular Culture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Village Voice Best Book "spirited debate among African American artists and cultural critics about issues from essentialism to sexuality"


Who am I?

I am a scholar of African Diaspora cultural studies, which means I spend a lot of time analyzing texts in various forms: books, art, film, music, and even laws and legal documents. The cultural texts I study were produced by people. I am passionate about Black popular culture, because it dismantles some of the enduring divisions between academic institutions and the people who live beyond their walls. It is a field of study that is always in flux, especially now with twenty-first-century advances that position popular culture as almost always at our fingertips.


I edited...

Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the Twenty-First Century

By Simone C. Drake (editor), Dwan K. Henderson (editor),

Book cover of Are You Entertained?: Black Popular Culture in the Twenty-First Century

What is my book about?

The advent of the internet and the availability of social media and digital downloads have expanded the creation, distribution, and consumption of Black cultural production as never before. At the same time, a new generation of Black public intellectuals who speak to the relationship between race, politics, and popular culture has come into national prominence. The contributors to Are You Entertained? address these trends to consider what culture and blackness mean in the twenty-first century's digital consumer economy.

In this collection of essays, interviews, visual art, and an artist statement the contributors examine a range of topics and issues, from music, white consumerism, cartoons, and the rise of Black Twitter to the NBA's dress code, dance, and Moonlight. Analyzing the myriad ways in which people perform, avow, politicize, own, and love blackness, this volume charts the shifting debates in Black popular culture scholarship over the past quarter-century while offering new avenues for future scholarship.

Fantasyland

By Kurt Andersen,

Book cover of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History

The co-creator of SPY magazine, Kurt Andersen was my hero in high school. He’s been an NPR radio host, a novelist, a magazine editor, and a co-author with Alec Baldwin on their Trump book. But this book feels like all the thinking he’s done in those places put in one place. It’s a textbook of American history from the Puritans until today, through the lens of our special predilection for conspiracy, con artists, and fabulists, both on the left and the right, and how it all culminates in the 1960s. So smart, so funny, so jealous.

Fantasyland

By Kurt Andersen,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fantasyland as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


You're entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts

Fantasy is the USA's primary product. From the Pilgrim Fathers onward America has been a place where renegades and freaks came in search of freedom to create their own realities with little objectively regulated truth standing in their way. The freedom to invent and believe whatever the hell you like is, in some ways, an unwritten constitutional right. But, this do-your-own-thing freedom also is the driving credo of America's current transformation where the difference between opinion and fact is rapidly crumbling.

So how did we get to this weird…


Who am I?

I started worrying about populism in 2008, when vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin chastised the elitists, whom she defined as “people who think they’re better than anyone else.” Meanwhile, she thought she was so much better than anyone else that she could serve as backup leader of the world despite the fact that she believed that the political leader of the United Kingdom is the queen. After she lost she vowed, “I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist.” She was unaware that there is a third option: to study so that you know more than the next person. 


I wrote...

In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book

By Joel Stein,

Book cover of In Defense of Elitism: Why I'm Better Than You and You Are Better Than Someone Who Didn't Buy This Book

What is my book about?

To find out how The New Dark Ages started and usher in the Intellectual Restoration, I spent a week in the county with the highest percentage of Trump voters. I went to the home of Trump-loving Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams; talked to Tucker Carlson; got lessons in obfuscation from a fake news kingpin; reproduced the experience of being an inexperienced government official by acting as mayor of L.A. for a day and interviewed members of secret organizations trying to create a new political party. All while wearing a cravat. 

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