1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.65

Buy for $29.65

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

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
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"[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)

"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

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    253
  • 4 Stars
    136
  • 3 Stars
    36
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    1
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    286
  • 4 Stars
    70
  • 3 Stars
    15
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    215
  • 4 Stars
    127
  • 3 Stars
    30
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Author's Political Biases Shine Through

Overall, it's a good book. My only gripe is that the author doesn't seem to challenge his own political biases and blindspots while he exposes those of others.

I'm not a libertarian, I'm a centrist. That means I'm annoyed as much by the left's support of collectivism and postmodernism as I am annoyed by the right's cozy relationship with authoritarian religious movements and their odd idolization of guns.

I just think the author should spend a bit more time questioning his own political assumptions. Still, it's an interesting look into the looney fringes of the libertarian movement. I suspect if you asked a generic self-identified libertarian if he supports bum fights, he'd indignantly say no. The crazy with libertarians comes out when they go into their echo-chambers, though this is true for every group.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Case study on why Libertarianism is bad

Great study on why Libertarianism is not a good socio-economic ideal. This book shows how a town withers away under libertarianism with some harmful consequences, while another town just north that pays little more in taxes has a better quality of life.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Crash course on the stupidity of Libertarianism

Libertarianism shouldn't be taken seriously as a political philosophy and this book illustrates why. They created an Ayn Rand "utopia" in New Hampshire and watched their experiment crumble as they couldn't even handle previously solved problems. They drove away everything good in the name of freedom while neighboring towns prospered through infrastructure improvements, public investments, governmental planning, and civic pride. As for the title of the book, it comes from the fact that by following Libertarian principles, they caused a rash of bear attacks in their community. A phenomenon not recorded in the area for a hundred years. The stories and people are compelling and the author made it a very interesting read.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Very funny, and timely

An interesting look at Libertarianism and how it intersects with the rest of us and nature. Fun commentary about how their strive for more "freedom" can negatively impact a community in unforseen ways. Also a good look at how going after only ones own best interests can ultimately harm ones neighbors.
This had easy to listen to prose, subtle pop culture references that made me chuckle and the style is that of a good rambling story. Though there are many characters in the cast and each chapter more or less focuses on just one it is easy to keep up with and see where all the threads lead. It ended in a fantastic hopeful note.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

This is why libertarians can't have nice things

The story of a Libertarian's effort to live free ruined by donuts, non-libertarians, and institutional government interference.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Tries too hard to make the connection to bears

This book felt like two stories, one of which was the phenomena of libertarians moving en masse to a small town in New Hampshire, the other was the tendency of bears to wander into residential neighborhoods to seek food.

While there is a slight connection due to the town getting rid of municipal trash collection, it just felt too weak, resulting in not-so-subtle transitions between the libertarian parts and the bear parts. The author would have been better served to chose one story or the other at the expense of the cheeky title

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Needs more bears

Twice as long as it needs to be. Too much like a textbook for me.

Update: stopped listening with 4h to go. Two months later I have no interest in finishing

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sociobiology in Action

An interesting and entertaining study of the effects of Toxoplasma gondii infections on humans and bears.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • T
  • 04-23-22

Odd but good!

Plenty in here about libertarians, more than I expected about bears. A weird, meandering, take on the Free Town Project, well told and generally neutral in tone.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-23-20

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.

5 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Anonymous User
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-18-21

Insert bear-based pun of your choice here

A highly enjoyable book with less dense, indigestible political analysis than I was hoping for.
The narrator does an excellent job in my opinion, investing just enough life into the telling to keep it engaging without any forced levity.
As for the book itself, expect a balanced combination of history, biography, small town politics, a sprinkling of statistics and a light sprinkling of salty snark.
And bears. Lots and lots of bears.