cover image Climate of Fear: The Quest for Dignity in a Dehumanized World

Climate of Fear: The Quest for Dignity in a Dehumanized World

Wole Soyinka. Random House Trade, $14 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-8129-7424-9

During the Cold War, most Americans feared the possibility of a nuclear attack. As Nobelist Soyinka observes in these five stirring lectures, delivered at the Royal Institution in London in March 2004, fear can no longer be so easily named in this time of tyrannical and terrorist quasi-states. For Soyinka, the new atmosphere became clear in 1989, when a bomb destroyed a UTA passenger plane over the Republic of Niger. That act of political sabotage, following close on the heels of a similar and more publicized incident over Lockerbie, Scotland, established the contours of our contemporary climate of fear. Motivated by political and religious rhetoric that binds and blinds, small and fanatical groups recklessly commit such acts in order to gain power over others. Victims of such terrorist acts feel vulnerable and out of control since they cannot predict when or from where the next such attack might come. According to Soyinka, these victims then lose all dignity and freedom in a world turned upside down. While Soyinka brilliantly names our contemporary condition, he does not offer any suggestions about ways that the situation may be improved or our fears overcome. Agent, Carlisle & Company.