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Gothic Perspectives on the American Experience

Second Printing

Gregory G. Pepetone

From the founding of the United States to the present day, America’s conception of itself as a functional democracy has been clouded by a dark suspicion of subversion, conspiracy, and failure. Gothic Perspectives on the American Experience explores this dark side of America’s past, from the era of Thomas Jefferson and Charles Brockden Brown to that of John F. Kennedy and Oliver Stone. Drawing upon insights garnered from history, literature, pulp fiction, and film, it probes as yet unresolved divisions between adherents of the authentic American dream – which is based in faith in civilized dialogue within an open political process – and an alternative conception of America based in commercialism, covert politics, and faith in the effectiveness of armed might. This book examines the tensions between democratic idealism and covert fascism in the American experience, the Gothic dilemmas those tensions have provoked, and the contributions made by some of America’s preeminent authors, politicians, historians, and filmmakers toward reforming an increasingly dystopian society along the utopian lines envisioned by the Founding Fathers.