Be Very Afraid: The Cultural Response to Terror, Pandemics, Environmental Devastation, Nuclear Annihilation, and Other Threats

Be Very Afraid: The Cultural Response to Terror, Pandemics, Environmental Devastation, Nuclear Annihilation, and Other Threats

by Robert Wuthnow

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Overview

In Be Very Afraid, Robert Wuthnow examines the human response to existential threats--once a matter for theology, but now looming before us in multiple forms. Nuclear weapons, pandemics, global warming: each threatens to destroy the planet, or at least to annihilate our species. Freud, he notes, famously taught that the standard psychological response to an overwhelming danger is denial. In fact, Wuthnow writes, the opposite is true: we seek ways of positively meeting the threat, of doing something--anything--even if it's wasteful and time-consuming. It would be one thing if our responses were merely pointless, he observes, but they can actually be harmful. Both the public and policymakers tend to model reactions to grave threats on how we met previous ones. Offering insight into our responses to everything from An Inconvenient Truth to the bird and swine flu epidemics, Wuthnow provides a profound new understanding of the human reaction to existential vulnerability.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199964024
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 10/12/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 942,083
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author



Robert Wuthnow is the Gerhard R. Andlinger '52 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University.

Table of Contents



Introduction
1. Perilous Times
2. The Nuclear-Haunted Era
3. What to Mobilize Against
4. Waging War on Terror
5. Weapons of Mass Destruction
6. Panics and Pandemics
7. Environmental Catastrophe
8. Setting a New Agenda
9. The Call for Action
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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