The idea that things are always getting worse, that Armageddon—in one form or another—is just around the corner, has been a common refrain since the very beginnings of Western culture. And, more often than not, the forces allegedlysending us to hell in a proverbial hand basket are shadowy conspiracies whose features are as murky as their nefarious power is supposedly Enter renegade journalist Alexander Cockburn to illuminate the darkest corners of our collective cultural unconscious. In his usual, take-no-prisoners-style, he battles an impressive collection of fear-mongers and the irrationalities they espouse.
Likening the soul-saving indulgences sold by the medieval Catholic Church to today’s carbon credits, Cockburn traces his subject through the ages, showing how fear is used to distract us from real problems and real solutions. Skewering doomsters on both the Left and Right, A Short History of Fear tackles: 9/11 conspiracy theories; the twentieth-century witch craze of “satanic abuse”; eugenics; the Kennedy assassination, Pearl Harbor, and other “inside jobs”; terrorism; the “Great Fear” of the eighteenth century; today’s eleventh-hour predictions of planetary decline; and much more. Scathing, often hilarious, and always insightful, this is Cockburn at the top of his controversial game.
Alexander Cockburn is co-editor of the online journal CounterPunch and has authored and edited numerous books, including the best-selling Whiteout, with Jeffrey St. Clair. He is a syndicated national columnist, whose work appears regularly in The Nation, New York Free Press, and Los Angeles Times, among others.