A small town in Maryland installed surveillance cameras on the town hall, paid for by the Department of Homeland Security. The state of Kentucky received a similar grant to protect bingo parlors from attack, and the city of Grand Forks, North Dakota deployed a $145,000 bomb-dismantling robot against a backpack left by vagrants under a pine tree, which turned out to contain nothing more than bricks. These are just a few examples of American responses to fear in the post-9/11 world.
In American Fear, Peter Stearns argues that controlling fear has become a significant problem in American society. Examining how Americans have traditionally coped with and managed their anxieties in the past, and how the media, businesses, and the government have historically used fear to manipulate the consumers and the public, Stearns shows how and why distinctive American fears have emerged over the past several decades. American Fear adds a vital new dimension to existing studies of fear by examining the relationship between fear and American foreign policy, and the recent response by policymakers to address what has become one of the dominant emotions in contemporary American public life.