The Amazing, Horrifying Age of Exaggeration



Exaggeration is the oldest tendency of American humor. Politics, too. Think of Mark Twain and Huck Finn’s “stretchers,” or of H.L. Mencken’s railing against charlatan politicians and “the booboisie.” The genre of tall tales—America’s naive gigantism—began with John Henry and Paul Bunyan. It has come to gorgeous flower in the time of Donald Trump.

This is a golden age of American exaggeration. Gaudy, reckless overstatement, whether deployed in self-glorification, in vilification of enemies or in ideological hyperbole, has become…



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