Download American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety by Peter N. Stearns PDF

By Peter N. Stearns

Americans became excessively frightened, and manipulation via worry has turn into an important challenge in American society, with actual influence on coverage. through the use of information from Sep 11, this booklet makes a particular contribution to the exploration of modern worry, but additionally via constructing a historic point of view, the booklet exhibits how and why unique American fears have emerged during the last a number of a long time.

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Extra resources for American Fear: The Causes and Consequences of High Anxiety

Example text

But there is arguably something unusual about the extent and blatancy of fortified America, just as there is something unusual about immediately jumping to worst-case imaginings when a school bus gets lost. And there is always the question of whether bunkers and other vivid reminders reassure a nervous populace, or simply remind them to be ever more afraid. A final early impression to bring back the comparative element: The brutal attacks on the London public transportation system, in July 2005, were obviously far smaller in scale than those of September 11, and observers were quick to point out that, though devastating, the bombings did not introduce the kind of new methodology that might be disproportionately scary—like flying airplanes into buildings.

But there is another difference, which pulls us back to the need for further explanation. While a certain number of the September 11 stories reflected notes jotted down at the time, a surprising percentage of the emotional scars were still vivid two years after the event. And this despite the (to date) absence of subsequent tragedies on American soil. Post–Pearl Harbor confidence and calm were not the results of passage of time and the distraction of intervening developments; they emerged right away.

Some expected victory in a year; others urged greater realism, it would take a while. But there was no doubt about ultimate outcome. Interestingly, and possibly reflecting no small amount of racism as well as some recollections concerning World War I, there was more concern about the task against the Germans than about the Japanese threat. Discussion also focused on the Japanese themselves. Was the attack unfair—it was agreed it was awful—or was this a legitimate act of war? Should the United States retaliate in kind against Japan when circumstances permitted?

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