Fortress America

Basic. Dec. 2017. 256p. notes. index. ISBN 9780465055920. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780465093007. HIST
May (Regents Professor of American Studies and History, Univ. of Minnesota) characterizes the years since World War II as perhaps the most fearful in U.S. history, demonstrating how Cold War-era fears of nuclear weapons attacks and communist subversion became a potent motivating force affecting elections, public policy, social models, and everyday American life. May further suggests this reaction expanded and generalized in the late 1960s and 1970s—the era of antiwar and social justice demonstrations—to include a fear of crime and distrust of specific cities and the people found there, even though crime steadily decreased during the period. An isolated culture of retreat resulted, characterized by an abandoning of public spaces, mass incarceration, walled and gated residential communities, private security companies, and a rise in gun ownership. The author's wide research cites popular contemporary journalism, motion pictures, public opinion polls, political speeches, census data, advertising copy, crime statistics, and countless scholarly monographs.
VERDICT This thoroughly researched and thoughtfully written social history is recommended to all who seek to understand our divided society.

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