The cover of the book Of Fear and Strangers

Of Fear and Strangers

George Makari, MD ’87

In what Kirkus praises as an “illuminating, significant historical study” and a “timely and thorough investigation of a cultural plague,” Makari offers a history of xenophobia—the fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers. A longtime psychiatry professor at Weill Cornell Medicine as well as an alum, Makari writes that while xenophobia may have ancient origins, the term itself—which he calls “a word filled with sea-tossed exiles, dreams of welcome, and the flashing specter of violence”—was not coined until the late 19th century. Makari (himself the son of Christian Arabs who emigrated to the U.S. from Lebanon) describes how the Holocaust and other genocidal atrocities spurred 20th-century efforts to understand the roots of irrational fear and hatred—and how the concept of xenophobia has returned to the fore in recent years amid fraught debates over immigration in the U.S. and Europe.