Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pg. 99: Michael Barkun's "Chasing Phantoms"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Chasing Phantoms: Reality, Imagination, and Homeland Security Since 9/11 by Michael Barkun.

About the book, from the publisher:
Although a report by the congressionally mandated Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Proliferation, and Terrorism concluded that biological or nuclear weapons were very likely to be unleashed in the years soon after 2001, what Americans actually have experienced are relatively low-tech threats. Yet even under a new administration, extraordinary domestic and international policies enacted by the U.S. government in the wake of 9/11 remain unchanged. Political scientist and former FBI consultant Michael Barkun argues that a nonrational, emotion-driven obsession with dangers that cannot be seen has played and continues to play an underrecognized role in sustaining the climate of fear that drives the U.S. "war on terror."

Barkun identifies a gap between the realities of terrorism--"violence without a return address"--and the everyday discourse about it among government officials and the general public. Demonstrating that U.S. homeland security policy reflects significant nonrational thinking, Barkun offers new recommendations for effective--and rational--policymaking.
Learn more about Chasing Phantoms at the University of North Carolina Press website.

Michael Barkun is professor emeritus of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and a former FBI consultant in domestic terrorism cases. His books include Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement.

The Page 99 Test: Chasing Phantoms.

--Marshal Zeringue