Max Holleran reviews 'Fortress America: How we embraced fear and abandoned democracy' by Elaine Tyler May

Max Holleran reviews 'Fortress America: How we embraced fear and abandoned democracy' by Elaine Tyler May

Fortress America: How we embraced fear and abandoned democracy

by Elaine Tyler May

Basic Books, US$30 hb, 256 pp, 9781478920274

On a Saturday afternoon shortly before Christmas in 1984, Bernhard Goetz was riding the New York City subway. Goetz, who is white, was approached by four black screwdriver-wielding teenagers who asked him for five dollars. Goetz drew a 0.38 pistol from his jacket and shot each of the boys once, then turned to one of them on the floor of the subway and said, ‘You don’t look so bad, here’s another,’ firing again into the boy’s chest. He was convicted only of the most minor charge (possession of a handgun) and served eight months in prison. In a city increasingly gripped by fear, Goetz quickly became a New York folk hero: a real-life civilian Dirty Harry.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are a single issue subscriber you will need to upgrade your subscription to view back issues.

If you are already subscribed, click here to log in.

Max Holleran

Max Holleran

Max Holleran is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Melbourne. His work focuses on urban development in Europe and the United States, particularly how cities manage tourism. He has written about architectural aesthetics, post-socialist urban planning, and European Union integration for anthropology, sociology, and history journals. His work on cities and politics has also appeared in Boston Review, Public Books, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New Republic, and Slate.

Published in May 2018, no. 401

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.