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Two sections are illuminating in this slight discussion of how 9/11, and political manipulation of that event, has made Americans paranoid. In one, psychologist Stout (The Myth of Sanity) provides neurological and psychodynamic perspectives on trauma. In the other, she looks at paranoid moments in American history (though, curiously, without any mention of Richard Hofstadter's seminal book on that subject) and at the limbic wars being waged by fear-mongering political leaders. Stout also helpfully includes 10 ways to recognize such manipulators of our anxiety: for example,Fear brokers are secretive, and are certain that other people, too, are keeping dangerous secrets. But Stout devotes far more space to collective trauma than to the personal kind, in which she has professional expertise, assuming a unified national consciousness; she speaks in overly broad terms about what we feel, about our paranoia and about what you believe (You were red or you were blue). Finally, her suggestions for how we can reclaim our courage—which boil down to [s]triving to be calmer, more aware, and more rational—are too vague to be helpful. (Sept.)
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