Reviews

“Hallman aims to reclaim utopia from its ugliest manifestations. He explores each of these projects with a skeptic’s interest, looking not to valorize or ridicule, but to understand.” The Fiddleback

“If Hallman, a devoted Jamesian (like myself), says there’s still use to the word ‘utopia,’ then let’s find out what it is.'” Jessa Crispin for PBS.com

“In Utopia reviews necessary history, from Thomas More’s literary version to the rarely successful conceptions that followed, but this is no academic study…Hallman is on an intellectual travelogue, free of both life lessons and snark.'” Weekly Dig

“J.C. Hallman sets off on a quest for utopia…and though there are times he thinks he may have found it, in the end Hallman concludes that it is the very idea of utopia that is important.'” Utne Reader

“Hallman entertains with an ironic, Alain de Botton style of erudite bonhomie and scads of self-referential postmodernism, but his intellectual embrace is copious and his conclusion sincere: ‘the failure of good intentions should not be met with inaction, but with further good intentions, with better intention.'” Publisher’s Weekly

“J.C. Hallman examines, in an entertaining, scholarly, humorous, at times provocative, and always entertaining way, various aspects of six disparate “Utopian” communities. He looks with a careful and perceptive eye at these “Utopias,” both as theoretical concepts and as practical communities. With wit and clarity he examines the worldview behind each of these communities, and the “fatal flaws” that make them less than perfect.” Iowa City Press-Citizen

“Discursive, lyrical, thoughtful and at times playful, Hallman’s writing is easy to follow and a delight to read. With a wide-ranging, easy-going charm, the reader ends up following him from place to place―and idea to idea―in a leisurely walk through the ages. Voice is predominant, and it’s a pleasant voice to spend time with indeed.” Susan Gardner for Dailykos.com

“In our age of cool, detached irony, it certainly doesn’t seem like a stretch to say that the quaint notion of a place in which harmony has already been achieved is really just a punch line, but that stance is difficult to maintain through a couple hundred pages describing dedicated “martyrs” and the better worlds they’ve devoted themselves to…Hallman visits each of these [utopias], telling their stories in rich and winding detail.” AnnArbor.com

“An entertaining tour of human dreams in action.” Washington Examiner

“J. C. Hallman dissects six…blueprints for happiness with mordant tongue-in-cheek.” The Barnes and Noble Review

“The humor was just one facet of Hallman’s personal interaction with In Utopia, an interaction that makes the book stand out from the crowd. The topic is worthy of examination on its own, but I as a reader am interested in human interactions, specifically the writer’s interactions. Hallman not only told us about utopia; he showed us what it meant for him. This added dimension makes the topic come alive for the reader.” Minnesota Reads

“Whatever he publishes, I’ll read…Parts of [Hallman’s] book, crammed with facts and dates, reminded me of John McPhee’s fact-packed trudges across geological plates and botanical niches. Hallman mixes personal encounters with accumulated information. The balance, enriched by small monochrome illustrations, for all its popular culture contexts feels as if antiquated, as historical as it is current.” Popmatters

“Fascinating and unerringly entertaining…Hallman does a great job at weaving the past and present together into an ongoing discussion of the pros and cons of utopianism, and why it’s both ridiculous and necessary.” Evening All Afternoon

“Hallman is both Gulliver the traveler and Jonathan Swift the writer, comically describing his adventures….those who survey its scope through the final pages will be entertained by the author’s ingenuity and wit as well as the fervor with which he has engaged utopian thought. Communal Societies: Journal of the Communal Studies Association

“[Hallman] brings to his project the tools of a journalist and the heart of a poet…Although [he] fails to find an undoubtedly viable, thriving, and livable utopia, his attempts to find it make for an entertaining and, yes, inspiriting read.” Utopian Studies: Journal of the Society for Utopian Studies