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American Panic: A History Of Who Scares Us And Why (2014)

by Mark Stein(Favorite Author)
3.28 of 5 Votes: 3
1137279028 (ISBN13: 9781137279026)
Palgrave Macmillan Trade
review 1: Interesting idea but hard to read. Not written like a good history or novel, but more like references and quotes. Someone else might make a better more readable book from these same ideas. Definition of panic is troublesome. It is more likely irrational fears and actions than what we might think of as panic. Still the idea fits American history even to the "Ebola fears" of today ( which is not mentioned in the book) but he starts with the Salem witch trials and moves on through all Amercan history even to the present with fears of gays, etc.
review 2: I received a free copy of this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads Program. American Panic while interesting was not exactly the history I expected. Some eras were shaped to convey the story desired b
... morey this author at the expense of unbiased presentation. The definition of panic and how it operates in the US while not entirely defined is interesting and engaging as the book progresses. I did learn something in every chapter and found the book engaging to read when I wasn't angry at its misrepresentations. From the outset the author acknowledges that he is not going to cover each panic comprehensively which is fair for a popular history book. What he doesn't acknowledge is that his summary and highlighting at times leaves a biased impression of the panic. For example, the Catholic chapter for the first time I have ever seen leaves open the option that Maria Monk was telling anything resembling the truth in her anti Catholic polemic. It is established that her time in a convent was in fact at a home for wayward girls. At the end of this chapter, Kennedy magically invokes his military service and all fears of his Catholic presidency evaporate. While that speech did change the game, Catholic panic was not done away with even if the military service argument serves the authors argument better. These are especially strange omissions and shaping of facts given the author is a professor at Catholic University of America. Other chapters had equally story line serving interpretations and omissions. Thesis should serve the facts not facts fitted onto his thesis. This left me dismayed while reading. The idea that a panic and alarm are distinct and we can see repetition in the various panics in our history was intriguing. I think to some extent this is proven here, but there is not a clear distinction given or criteria to meet besides unverified claims leaving a blank to fill in at will for those who wish to panic. Knowing that at least some chapters had selective facts chosen to highlight his thesis it does draw the whole into question for me. Those complaints aside I did find these stories interesting to read about and reflect on the sheer number of times regular Americans have set out to expel/relocate/marginalize the Other of the moment. It was worth reading but not buying in my opinion. less
Reviews (see all)
A history of hysteria about the different social and ethnic groups that have been persecuted.
Excellent book!!
A tad too dry
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