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AMERICAN PANIC

A HISTORY OF WHO SCARES US AND WHY

Popular history that will appeal to readers of the author’s How the States Got Their Shapes.

A fresh take on the outbursts of hysteria over witches, Catholics, women, communists, gays, Muslims, illegal aliens and others that have occurred throughout American history.

Stein (How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines, 2011, etc.) explores the common source for political panics: the irrational fear that one’s government is in danger. Beginning with the 1692 Salem witch trials, the author describes how Americans have acted out of fears of conspiracy and fears based on stereotypes in an effort to make the world comprehensible. The richly detailed episodes recounted here are often quite familiar, but Stein brings a new perspective to understanding how they came about, what they have in common and how the panics sometimes link to one another. In an early hallmark of political panic, Native Americans were deemed vile, and accusers engaged in heinous acts (ethnic cleansing) against them. Biblical justifications fostered hysteria over African-Americans, gays, women and Muslims. Secrecy, real or imagined, spurred fear of freemasons and the Chinese. The most enduring panic, over the danger of African-Americans, predates the American Revolution and soared after the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation reached a mass audience. There was never widespread panic over Jews, perhaps since they lacked a homeland and the equivalent of a pope. Most panics are fueled by unverified claims, an insistence on absolutes and the assertion that correlation is causation. Alarmists cannot be stereotyped: They include both the ignorant and the well-educated, and they are often opportunists—e.g., power broker Thurlow Weed, who benefited from the anti-Masonic movement, and Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, whose anti-Red raids of the 1920s factored into his presidential ambitions.

Popular history that will appeal to readers of the author’s How the States Got Their Shapes.

Pub Date: May 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-137-27902-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017


  • New York Times Bestseller


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  • National Book Award Finalist

Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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