Panic by Harold Schechter, Narrated by Steven Weber

Harold Schechter’s Panic showcases an early American example of moral panic, mass hysteria, and pattern recognition gone horribly awry.
This well-researched narrative begins with details of a tragic event, the result of the sort of irrational, hysterical panic arising in the 1930s surrounding the fear of child rapists and murderers surging across the American landscape. One father’s need to protect his daughters from a danger he perceived as being right around the corner erupts in a disastrous and heartbreaking conclusion.
From that awful event, Schechter traces backward to the small number of isolated incidents that had been blown up and made to seem like part of a growing trend. Each of these individual cases was certainly terrible, but they were hardly part of a nationwide surge in that sort of criminal activity.
Looking at the world we live in today, one can see that we haven’t grown beyond this sort of outrage-driven crusade where we perceive the boogeyman du jour in every shadow.
Steven Weber’s narration is perfectly suited to this gripping non-fiction essay. I’m pleased to see that he continues to narrate other short samples of Schechter’s larger body of work contained in Bloodlands.

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