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A ground-breaking examination of the societal impact of fear that gives us a thrilling insight on world history

About the Author

Robert Peckham is a cultural historian and founder of Open Cube, an organisation that promotes the integration of the arts, science, and technology for health. He was previously Professor of History and MB Lee Endowed Professor in the Humanities and Medicine at the University of Hong Kong. He has held fellowships at Cambridge, Oxford, LSE, and King's College London, and been a visiting scholar at NYU. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society, he has published in Foreign Affairs, New Statesman, Prospect, the Guardian, the Independent and the Times Literary Supplement. He lives in New York.


'Brilliant and breathtakingly wide-ranging ... As Peckham shows in gripping and beautifully written detail, fear isn't just the stock in trade of wicked despots; in some circumstances it can be turned to positive effect. Could it, now, be that fear is our friend? Read Peckham and judge for yourself.' - Simon Schama

'Extraordinary. This exceptional and thought-provoking book sheds light on the intricate position fear occupies in the unavoidable realities of politics and our spiritual existence.' - Ai Weiwei

'We all know what fear is, but who amongst us have considered its history? Peckham is fear's astute historian-translator in in this big, brave, honest, and learned book. He moves us back and forth across time and place, from fourteenth-century century plague to bombs in Afghanistan, in a profoundly human history of the politics of one emotion. It's gripping as well as uncomfortable reading, that shows us the stakes when fear and freedom are twinned' - Alison Bashford, author

'Robert Peckham's deeply informed and lucidly staged anatomy of fear is a remarkable achievement. Peckham shapes a fundamentally transformative account of the sociology of fear - and of fear as a constitutive element of modern sociality itself. A groundbreaking study.' - Mark Seltzer, author

'Fascinating, compelling and erudite. I have written quite a lot about fear and the brain, but learned so much about fear itself from this book.' - Joseph LeDoux, author

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