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Fear: A Cultural History

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  87 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
Whether we like it or not, an atmosphere of fear pervades modern culture. In America, each day is color-coded for the level of threat; newspapers fill with gloomy news of climate crisis; and the radio and TV bleat with Amber alerts, car crashes, and the war wounded.

In this groundbreaking work, award-winning historian Joanna Bourke helps us understand the landscape of fear
Paperback, 520 pages
Published April 9th 2007 by Counterpoint (first published January 1st 201)
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I'm not going to lie - I couldn't make it more than a quarter into this book. There were two major problems I ran into:

1) The author has the bizarre habit of inserting very odd opinions, with no backing, that made me doubt the rest of her un-cited proclamations. In the first prologue (and there are several), she states that "No one in the West fears starvation" (really? I'm pretty sure there a number of people in the United States alone living far below the poverty line) and that "Feminist tract
Jul 23, 2011 Malcolm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to confess that I am a little bit in awe of Joanna Bourke her scholarship and range of subjects is genuinely impressive (her history of men's bodies in and after WW1 is fabulous). In this she traces fear as a phenomenon in Britain and the US during the 19th and 20th centuries to show a developing emotion that shifts focus from fears of death and disasters, of the mob, and social panics (Orson Welles' War of the Worlds radio play features large here) to an increasingly psychological and ps ...more
Jul 10, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fear, history, psychology
Joanna Burke conducts an interesting review of (i) what people have feared in the last two centuries, and (ii) how they wrote about that fear. It's well references, seems thorough (though I am no expert on the subject), and certainly thought-provoking.

The most interesting takeaway is how people's fears have changed as culture and society has changed; two centuries ago, people worried about things occuring after death - today, people worry about things that occur during their life.

It was also fa
Nov 20, 2008 Inma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic work. Excellent book to understand that part of human behaviour that is affected by fear.
My only complain is that it only covers modern fears, roughly the last 3 centuries, and it covers mostly fear in the anglosaxon world. But it's really interesting for anyone.
Sarah Chase
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Joanna Bourke (born 1963 in New Zealand) is an historian and professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London.
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