Author Sasha Abramsky talks about his most recent book, Jumping at Shadows: The Triumph of Fear and the End of the American Dream, at the Buena Vista Library on Wednesday evening, October 4.
A Q& A session after the author’s initial presentation will allow the public to engage in conversation with the Oxford University-educated writer, who’s other notable books include The House of Twenty Thousand Books, The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Lives and Inside Obama’s Brain.
“I very much hope to stimulate a conversation about what rampant, often-times irrational, fear is doing to our culture and to our political system,” commented Abramsky. “As we struggle to understand our moment, and how we arrived here, I hope my book can provide some answers, and can shed light on this perplexing, and in many ways infuriating, political and cultural moment.”
Jumping at Shadows “grows out of decades of reporting that I have done on social justice themes, on inequality, and on what happens when people start trivializing, viewing difference as threatening, and diversity as dangerous,” he added. “That’s the political side of this book.”
“On the non-political side (why do we fear sharks more than mosquitoes, say, or why do we wear our phobias almost like badges of honor?), it just struck me as a fascinating story about modernity and about the ways we try to find community and find stable ground in a world continually changing underfoot.”
Jumping at Shadows “is a book about how we are all bombarded these days with more and more things we are told we must add to our list of modern fears, how this can be done more effectively than ever before because of modern technology and media, and how there is often an economic and political agenda involved in creating this culture where we feel vulnerable and afraid of everything—especially people we see as different than us,” said Librarian Hubert Kozak, who books the author events at the Buena Vista Library.
“It paralyzes us,” Kozak continued. “It causes us to compromise the civic virtues that we have thought of for so long as defining us as a nation.”
“When I’ve mentioned this upcoming event here, I’ve seen people vigorously nodding their heads in the audience,” he also said.
“It seems that the author has hit a nerve. He diagnoses something we are all dealing with in modern life, and he is trying to explain why recognizing what is going on, bringing it to consciousness, and maybe calling it out, is important.”
“The book, to me, tells many stories: political and cultural, educational and psychological,” Abramsky said.
“Reporting it was a journey for me – pushing me to explore academic areas I hadn’t previously visited, taking me into writing about psychology and neuroscience and physiology… all things that, as a lay person, I find inherently interesting – and I hope that I have managed to convey all of this mystery and all of the wonder of exploration to my audience.”
Abramsky’s author event on Jumping at Shadows begins at 7:00 p.m. The event and parking are free to the public. The Buena Vista branch of the Burbank Public Library is located at 300 N. Buena Vista Street in Burbank.