Manufacturing Hysteria by Jay Feldman
A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America

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Synopsis

A vital, engaging, and sometimes troubling story of modern America’s struggle to live up to its ideals.
 
In this ambitious and wide-ranging history, Jay Feldman takes us from the run-up to World War I and its anti-German hysteria through the September 11 attacks and Arizona’s current anti-immigration movement. What we see is a striking pattern of elected officials and private citizens alike using the American people’s fears and prejudices to isolate minorities (ethnic, racial, political, religious, or sexual), silence dissent, and stem the growth of civil rights and liberties.
 
Whether it’s the post–World War I persecution of radicals; the Depression-era deportations of Mexican immigrants and Mexican-Americans; the World War II internment of 112,000 ethnic Japanese along with thousands of German and Italian aliens; the Cold War campaigns against Communists, gays, and civil-rights activists; or the Vietnam-era COINTELPRO operations, we see how economic, military, and political crises have been used to curtail the rights of supposedly subversive minorities.
 
Much of the story can be laid at the feet of J. Edgar Hoover, but Feldman goes deeper to show how these tendencies have been part of a continuous vein that runs through American life. Rather than treating this history as a series of discrete moments, Feldman considers the entire programmatic sweep on a scale no one has yet approached. In doing so, he gives us a potent reminder of how, even in America, democracy and civil liberties are never guaranteed.

 

About Jay Feldman

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Jay Feldman's writings have appeared in Smithsonian magazine, Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, Gourmet, Whole Earth Review, and a wide variety of other national, regional, and local publications. A number of his pieces have been anthologized. He has also written for television, film, and the stage. He lives in Davis, California. For more information, visit www.jfeldman.com.
 
Published August 23, 2011 by Anchor. 400 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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After the war, Joseph McCarthy witch hunts continued the hysteria—as one fired teacher recalled, “There were many wrecked lives.” Even as the country became more progressive, Hoover relentlessly pursued civil-rights and antiwar groups through the FBI’s notorious Counter Intelligence Program (COIN...

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New York Journal of Books

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The deportations morphed into a general movement against Mexican immigrants in the 1930s, which eventually led to “Operation Wetback” in the 1950s (500,000 Mexicans were deported from Texas, including many citizens), and to the masses of “voluntary removals” of Operation Streamline today.Jay Feld...

Aug 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

Christian Science Monitor

Historian and writer Jay Feldman tracks that hostility from World War I to now, when disputes over immigration roil the country state by state.

Aug 17 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

Christian Science Monitor

The United States was founded on the notion of being open to all, with malice toward none.

Aug 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

Huffington Post

Manufacturing Hysteria offers a chilling overview of how American political culture has generated domestic enemies to justify massive infringements of rights.

Sep 13 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

Bookmarks Magazine

What we see is a striking pattern of elected officials and private citizens alike using the American people’s fears and prejudices to isolate minorities (ethnic, racial, political, religious, or sexual), silence dissent, and stem the growth of civil rights and liberties.

Aug 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

Red Room

Feldman ably sketches out instances of the trampling of the constitutional rights of Japanese-Americans during WWII and the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s, and offers especially fine analyses of the McCarthy era as "once again, the American people fell in line with the government, as l...

May 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

Red Room

The anti-German frenzy that was ignited by his speeches around the country and by his supporters at the Committee on Public Information, “the official state organ of propaganda,” spread deep into American society and ruined the lives of innumerable ordinary, patriotic Americans who had the mi...

Aug 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

Newcity Lit

… One of these times, we could reach a point of no return.” (Martin Northway) “Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America” By Jay Feldman Pantheon Books, 400 pages, $29

Nov 09 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

News Review.

Jay Feldman provides more than a smidgen of context as he takes an up close and uncomfortable look at American fear, scapegoating and surrender of civil liberties in the contemporary period in Manufacturing Hysteria: A History of Scapegoating, Surveillance, and Secrecy in Modern America.

Sep 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Manufacturing Hysteria: A His...

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