Jumping at Shadows
The Triumph of Fear and the End of the American Dream
By Sasha Abramsky
Ebola outbreaks, terrorist attacks, inner-city guns, illegal immigrants, the Zika virus, drug dealers, death panels. Sasha Abramsky sets out to uncover what things frighten us most
Why does a disease that killed only a handful of Americans like ebola provoke panic, but the flu-which kills tens of thousands each year-is dismissed with a yawn? Why is an unarmed young black woman who knocks on a stranger's front door to ask for help after her car breaks down perceived to be so threatening that the stranger shoots her dead? In Jumping at Shadows, Sasha Abramsky sets his sights on America's most dangerous epidemic: irrational fear.
In this meditation on the paralyzing terror Americans feel when confronted with something they don't understand-from foreigners to tropical viruses to universal health care-Abramsky delivers an eye-opening analysis of our misconceptions about risk and threats, and how our brains interpret them, both at a neurological level and at a conscious one. What emerges is a journey through a political and cultural landscape that is defined by our fears, which are often misplaced. Ultimately, Abramsky shows that our fears can teach us a great deal about our society, exposing our deeply ingrained racism, classism, xenophobia, and susceptibility to the toxic messages of demagogues.
Sasha Abramsky is an author, freelance journalist, lecturer at the University of California, and a senior fellow at Demos. His work has appeared in The Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, New York magazine, the American Prospect, Salon, Slate, NewYorker.com, LA Weekly, The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, and Rolling Stone. His 2013 book The American Way of Poverty was listed as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and his 2015 volume The House of Twenty Thousand Books was selected by Kirkus as one of the best nonfiction books of the year. Abramsky lives in Sacramento, California, with his wife and their two children.
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- Publication date:
28 Sep 2017
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