Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country

Like a lot of Americans, Steve Almond spent the weeks after the 2016 election lying awake, in a state of dread and bewilderment. The problem wasn’t just the election, but the fact that nobody could explain, in any sort of coherent way, why America had elected a cruel, corrupt, and incompetent man to the presidency. Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country is Almond’s effort to make sense of our historical moment, to connect certain dots that go unconnected amid the deluge of hot takes and think pieces. Almond looks to literary voices—from Melville to Orwell, from Bradbury to Baldwin—to help explain the roots of our moral erosion as a people. The book argues that Trumpism is a bad outcome arising directly from the bad stories we tell ourselves. To understand how we got here, we have to confront our cultural delusions: our obsession with entertainment, sports, and political parody; the degeneration of our free press into a for-profit industry; our enduring pathologies of race, class, immigration, and tribalism. Bad Stories is a lamentation aimed at providing clarity. It’s the book you can pass along to an anguished fellow traveler with the promise, This will help you understand what the hell happened to our country.


“It’s a rare writer who has the power to make one aware in every paragraph of the moral necessity of literature, but in Bad Stories, Steve Almond has done just that. With fierce intelligence, moving candor, and dazzling insight, Almond draws on everything from The Grapes of Wrath to the voting practices of his babysitter to dismantle the false narratives about American democracy that got us into the political pickle were in. I was enlightened and spellbound by Bad Stories, outraged and consoled. This is a profound and essential book for all time, but especially for now.”—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

For updated publicity on all things Bad Stories. Visit

A Blue white and red striped background with a man on his knees at the center with his hands up and black script that reads Bad Stories: What the hell just happened to our country by Steve Almond.

Steve Almond ( Author Website )

Publication Date: April 1, 2018

Genre/Imprint: Non-Fiction, Red Hen Press

$16.95 Tradepaper

Shop: Red Hen, Bookshop, Barnes & Noble

ISBN: 978-1-59709-226-5

Download the Press Kit Here


Steve Almond Upcoming Workshops

Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country is an exploration about a global problem with strong men and totalitarianism, Bad Stories, in a short lamentation by New […]

Steve Almond interview with PopMatters

Megan Volpert, of PopMatters Books, asks great questions from Steve Almond on Bad Stories! Talking Trump, late night TV shows, Moby Dick, sports, and more! Read the full piece

Steve Almond featured on Miami New Times

Steve Almond speaks with Rebecca McBane of Miami New Times on his upcoming book, Bad Stories, and his upcoming conversation with Mitchell Kaplan at Books & Books. Read the article

This is us: Steve Almond’s “Bad Stories”

Jack Cline of South Florida Sun Sentinel interviews Steve Almond on his upcoming new book, Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country! Read the full interview here! […]


The Hippies Were Fucking Right

Congratulations to Steve Almond for his first newspaper feature for BAD STORIES on PORTLAND MERCURY. Read the review here!