Read “Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America”

By Austin Cohea | Big Stick Editor |

I did not know “Pawnee: The Greatest Town In America,” the book based off of NBC television show “Parks and Recreation,” existed. Pawnee was actually released Oct. 4, 2011. I however, didn’t think it was a real book, and therefore never sought it out, but when I came across it in the library, I audibly gasped and immediately snatched it from the shelf, being a superfan of Parks and Rec.

The book, in the show, is written by Leslie Knope, and is presented that way on the cover of the real book, but was actually written by the writers of the show, and serves as a historical and tourism guide to the show’s setting, sleepy town Pawnee, Indiana, and the evil neighboring town, Eagleton, Indiana.

Pawnee also includes short passages from other characters in the show as well, like Ron Swanson, Tom Haverford, Chris Traeger, April Ludgate, Andy Dwyer, Ben Wyatt and even local TV newscaster Perd Hapley, and tells the reader about various priceless aspects of the town that make it unique, like the citizens’ obsession with basketball, town political and economic issues including Councilman Dexhart’s several sex scandals, the ongoing raccoon infestation, a cult called reasonableism that usurped the town in the 70s, and many, many violations against the native tribe of Pawnee, the Wamapoke.

The book is especially good at answering questions that you have about the show, like when a character makes a hilarious offhand comment and you’d wished the producers made it a bigger part of the show, for example Leslie Knope frequently references the murals in City Hall, but never fully gives the viewer the whole story, but the book has an entire section with information on the murals, and the painfully funny atrocities that are depicted.

My absolute favorite parts of the book are the Pawnee Profiles, an outline of some select Pawnee residents, my favorite is Potato Steve, by April Ludgate, because I, like April, am a misanthrope, and like really cool people who don’t care, and that’s Potato Steve. April describes Potato Steve as a homeless ex-roadie who decided to sleep in an abandoned building, and he eventually claimed it using “squatter’s rights” and started a vinyl record store and produced some really weird underground but cool music, featuring bands like “P*ss Pete, Barf Monkeys, Suck Market, The Pukes, The Vomit, Garfield Puke” and more.

In any case, Pawnee is worth a buy for anybody who likes Parks and Recreation; it makes an excellent addition to any personal library, joke book or not.