“With Monsters in America, W. Scott Poole has given us a guidebook for a journey into nightmare territory. Insightful and brilliant!”
Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Patient Zero and Dead of Night
Salem witches, frontier wilderness beasts, freak show oddities, alien invasions, Freddie Krueger. From our colonial past to the present, the monster in all its various forms has been a staple of American culture. A masterful survey of our grim and often disturbing past, Monsters in America uniquely brings together history and culture studies to expose the dark obsessions that have helped create our national identity.
Monsters are not just fears of the individual psyche, Scott Poole explains, but are concoctions of the public imagination—reactions to cultural influences, social change, and historical events. Conflicting anxieties about race, class, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, science, and politics manifest themselves as haunting beings. From Victorian-era mad scientists to modern-day serial killers, new monsters appear as American society evolves, paralleling fluctuating challenges to the cultural status quo.
Consulting newspaper accounts, archival materials, personal papers, comic books, films, and oral histories, Scott Poole has crafted an engrossing, and entirely unique, history of America, one that nimbly illustrates how the creation of the monstrous “other” not only reflects society’s fears but shapes actual historical behavior.
Read on and be enlightened…and horrified.
“An unexpected guilty pleasure! Scott Poole invites us into an important and enlightening, if disturbing, conversation about the very real monsters that inhabit the dark spaces of America’s past.”
J. Gordon Melton, Director, Institute for the Study of American Religion