Fortress America charts the rise of a muscular national culture, undercutting the common good. Instead of a thriving democracy of engaged citizens, we have become a paranoid, bunkered, militarized, and divided vigilante nation.
In this brief and insightful piece of historical literature, Elaine May has recounted the history of the past 70 years from a very narrow and sharp perspective with important results ... How all of this has impacted women in the society is another of the major themes developed with great skill and to great effect by May ... Some will quarrel with Elaine May’s arguments, statistics, and examples, and that is probably inevitable. Others may be put off by the unrelenting nature of May’s prose that seems akin to an Oliver Stone movie in its drum beat persistence ... what is best about Fortress America is how it challenges assumptions with mundane examples that will be familiar to all and jarring to read.
...it chronicles the lowering of our personal portcullises — but stops just short of tying it all together ... Fortress America puts much of the blame on an axis of anxiety including politicians, big media and entertainment, and an array of profiteers ranging from gun makers to security firms. It connects some of those dots ... Still, I found myself wanting a deeper investigation of the late-20th-century symbiosis between fear-mongering media, business and politics.
May (America and the Pill), a University of Minnesota history professor, provides valuable historical and cultural context for the current political moment with this sweeping and detailed examination of how Americans came to perceive the world as overwhelmingly dangerous ... She methodically dissects and debunks the rampant fearmongering ... few have been as effective at connecting the broad sweep of 20th-century U.S. history to modern-day policies ... This is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the anxieties that occupy American politics.