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Inhaltsangabe: Savvy political and historical analysis with narrative punch, this debut of a new commentator on the American political scene looks at pivotal moments in our history when political outliers moved to the center, getting support from the general populace and those in power. From the Anti-Illuminati movement in the early Republic to the effort to ban Sharia law today, Burt shows how fear of loss of influence propels these movements to the center of American life.
Unlike other recent works on American politics, Burt argues that these movements are not random and inexplicable, but are driven by a particular set of circumstances in which those with social status and political power see it slipping away. Engaging in political hysteria?blacklists, scapegoating, conspiracies, cover-ups?is how they seek to get it back. While covering all American history, main chapters put readers at the center of the early nation's Anti-Illuminati and the Anti-Masons beginning in 1826, The Red Scare, 1919's Palmer Raids, 1950s McCarthyism, and the post-9/11 Anti-Sharia movement.
For each political hysteria, Burt looks at the threat the movement rose to confront, its claims for who was to blame, the tools used to accomplish its ends, and how successful it was in convincing more Americans of its arguments. The ultimate aim of the book is to describe not simply what political hysteria is, but how and why it is so successful, so that past instances may be more fully understood, and future dangers avoided.
Through the stories and characters who have exemplified hysteria in our past, Burt provides a compelling survey of American political extremism. And he shows that hysteria is no partisan phenomenon, nor simply a product of the lower or less-educated American classes (indeed, the demographic data suggest the contrary). American Hysteria argues that political hysteria is central to our national identity, a type of movement not relegated to the fringes, but rather routinely taking center stage. Wide swaths of the American public, its leaders and its intellectuals buy into the conspiracy theory, ready to sacrifice whatever they must?like basic constitutional rights?to keep the internal enemy at bay. As Mark Twain put it, history may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme. By narrating and analyzing movements of hysteria in our nation?s history, this book sheds light on the politics of today and tomorrow.
This debut from Andrew Burt details the pivotal moments in American political history when outliers moved to the center, capturing the national spotlight and turning fringe politics mainstream. American Hysteria puts readers at the center of the nation's most prominent periods of political extremism, from the Anti-Illuminati movement of the 1790s to McCarthyism in the 1950s to the Anti-Sharia movement of today. Both a deep dive into American history and a riveting narrative account, American Hysteria is as much history as it is drama.
Burt argues that political hysteria arises in periods of profound uncertainty about American identity, and that when Americans lose their sense of who they are, they lash out against perceived threats with blacklists, scapegoating, conspiracies, cover-ups and more. By exploring the infamous and sometimes forgotten movements and characters of our nation's past, this fascinating book provides a unique view into America's history, its identity, and ultimately its future.
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