Scott Poole’s novel, ‘Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting,’ depicts Americans’ nightmare rather than their fantasy. It is not a children’s book and many of the monsters depicted, from colonial times to the modern, have been a part of American culture. Poole’s focus on monsters reflects an increasing scholarly movement centered on investigating the ancient and ongoing cultural obsession with monsters. In chapter one, the author clarified that monsters are creations of the collective imagination and their responses to cultural influences, rather than fears of the individual’s psyche. The ‘Monsters in America’ presents conflicting anxieties about religious beliefs, politics, sexuality, race, and gender manifested among the populace as haunting beings. Poole concludes by saying that as American society evolves, new monsters appear from Victorian-era mad scientists to modern serial killers that challenge the cultural status quo.
Poole’s preface is more of an average viewer of a horror movie than of the academic historian. He began the story by referring to an entertaining comic that might make some of the historians to be unpleasant with his book. Poole believes that monsters should be taken seriously and after reading his book, you will realise that they are always complicated and inherently sophisticated. He portrays the monster as a creature with its tentacles wrapped around the foundation of American history. The book demonstrates how our culture can help us understand more about the world and our lives. Poole’s examples instill an understanding that the horrific things in our literature can help us make peace with the frightening world we live in. Thanks to Poole’s insights, he makes us see the ubiquity of the monster lurking in and around us.