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American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why Hardcover – May 20, 2014


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Editorial Reviews

Review

If there is an American cultural DNA - Mark Stein is the guy who most ably picks apart the strands that tell us who we are -- and in this case, what scares us and why -- and puts them and ultimately us under a microscope for a rarefied, compelling, and unforgettable view. (Brian Unger, Writer, TV Host, Actor)

How refreshing! Mark Stein does not look at our history through the familiar prism of presidents, battles, and laws; instead he uncovers and relates the behavior and fears of the populace that too often has set the course of history. A wonderful read filled with lessons so needed now. (Stanley Kutler, Author The Wars of Watergate)

American Panic is a learned romp through American history, and the persistent bad habit a strong and free people has of worrying about other people. Mark Stein's careful research demonstrates how successive panics, over witches, Indians, Masons, Chinese, Socialists, Latinos, Muslims and more, share a kind of DNA of hysteria. Stein's work is a sobering reminder of who we were and who we are. American Panic is edifying, entertaining and important. (Ray Suarez, Al Jazeera America, and author of Latino Americans: The 500 -ear Legacy That Shaped a Nation)

Through compelling narrative and intriguing research, Mark Stein shines a beacon into the midnight of the American soul and shows us what our deepest fears say about ourselves as individuals and as a people. The psychological gap between the ideal and reality of E Pluribus Unum is Stein's theme, and he limns it with original and fascinating insight. (Mark Olshaker, coauthor of Law & Disorder, Mindhunter, and The Cases That Haunt Us; novelist and documentary filmmaker)

About the Author

Mark Stein is the author of How the States Got Their Shapes , a New York Times bestseller that became the basis of the History Channel series of the same name, in which he frequently appears. He is also the author of How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines. He lives in Washington, DC, where he has taught at the Catholic University of America and American University.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Trade (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137279028
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137279026
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #289,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Stein is the author of How the States Got Their Shapes, a New York Times Bestseller that became the basis of the History Channel series of the same name, and its companion book, How the States Got Their Shapes Too: The People Behind the Borderlines, which answers the question: Since no child ever said, "When I grow up, I want to create a state line," how did the people who did so end up doing so?

Stein's newest book is American Panic: A History of Who Scares Us and Why, due out in May. It traces elements that have recurred in political panics from the Salem Witch Hunt to current fears regarding issues such as gay marriage and Wall Street power. Those underlying elements reveal why political panic is not exclusive to any end of the political spectrum or degree of education.

Stein also wrote the screenplay for the film, Housesitter, starring Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn, and Movies-of-the-Week for CBS and NBC, starring Katey Sagal, John Ritter, Teri Garr, and Robert Urich. His plays have been produced off-Broadway at the Manhattan Theatre Club, and at numerous regional theatres including South Coast Repertory, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Manitoba Theatre Centre, L.A.'s Fountain Theatre and the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura, CA. He lives in Washington, D.C., where he has taught at Catholic University and American University.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Debnla on July 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am about half through the book and I find it well-written and expertly researched. While the panics discussed in it can be described as conservatively driven, they are panics that follow the basic pattern the Mr. Stein sets forth pertaining to hysteria that people can be manipulated into and backs them up with facts. Are there other panics follow these patterns? Of course. However the ones the author has chosen are either well-known by informed Americans or, in the case of the Freemasons, an interesting addition to one's knowledge of history.
I find the book to be quite informative and thought provoking, giving insight into ongoing events as well as historical events. It, more importantly, provides a framework for any thinking person by which to evaluate one's opinion on many topics and stresses the much needed idea that we must look deeper than a news reader on TV for the truth in any situation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Andy Tannen on September 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
American Panic is an insightful and very entertaining journey through the dark side of American history. It begins with the Salem witch trials and runs through almost every major religious and ethnic group that came to these shores as well as a number of political movements (Communists, anti-Corporations, etc.) And women. Each panic gets a chapter and these are filled with well-researched and entertaining anecdotes (who knew that JFK attended a screening of the film Spartacus, despite American Legion protesters, which as he points, out was the first film where Hollywood let writer Dalton Trumbo use his real name on a film after being blacklisted in the McCarthy era).
You will learn a lot from this book, but all of it is not pretty. It does show that we have come a long way as a nation.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marsha A. Martin on August 31, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
great book, full of great ideas and truths
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