Dennis D.'s Reviews > The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid Of The Wrong Things

The Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner
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Dec 06, 2008

it was amazing
Recommended for: anyone who thinks Fox News is really fair and balanced
Read in January, 2002 , read count: 2

This is a terrific non-fiction book about how special interests, news organizations, and the government manipulate the populace through fear tactics. Researching social epidemics such as airline safety, school violence and road rage (among many others), Glassner pretty effectively illustrates how we are fed a diet of fear by trumped up "experts," and people who have a stake in keeping us afraid. This second situ is what was appalling to me. If your livelihood is consulting and giving speeches about crack babies, OF COURSE you're going to go on 60 Minutes or NBC News or some local station to trumpet the scourge, danger and epidemic of crack babies.

My wife read this book right after I did, and we took to announcing "The Culture" anytime we heard one of the tell-tale teasers as an intro or outro to a TV show:

Voice-over: "Coming up at 11, Mexican immigrants are being issued handguns and cocaine, and then bussed right to your child's school playground. FIND OUT WHY YOUR CITY COUNCIL IS DOING NOTHING ABOUT IT."

Us: "Culture of fear, baby."

Now that I've read this book, I'm much more attuned to the phenomenon. Although the examples in the book are still dead-on accurate (nothing's come to light since publication that validates the dire warnings), the book was written in 1999 or so, so some of the examples are now a little dated. I'd love to see Glassner update his premise to include post 9/11 America, especially the run-up to the Iraq war.
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