Kyle Riismandel

Dec 29, 2020

Neighborhood of Fear

The Suburban Crisis in American Culture, 1975–2001

Johns Hopkins University Press 2020

One of the lures that drew Americans to the suburbs in the years after World War II was the promise of a secure life. By the mid-1970s, however, it seemed that this security was under threat from a variety of sources. In Neighborhood of Fear: The Suburban Crisis in American Culture, 1975–2001 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2020), Kyle Riismandel examines the anxiety felt by American suburbanites during those decades, and what their responses reveal about the politics and society of that era. As Riismandel explains, many of these fears were mirrored and amplified by the popular culture of the era, with movies and television shows shaping perceptions of the problems suburbanites faced. Keyed by events such as the meltdown of the Three Mile Island reactor, the discoveries of pollution at Love Canal, and the kidnapping of Adam Walsh, suburbanites mobilized to prevent bar similar threats from endangering their neighborhoods. As Riismandel illustrates, their opposition was typically very localized, and often embodied both the distrust of government and the concern for cultural decay reflected in the New Right politics so prevalent during the era.

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