The University of Wisconsin Press

Autobiography / Psychology / Sociology / Health and Medicine / Politics


Facing Fear
Cancer and Politics, Courage and Hope
Judith Strasser

“We are all going to die. The real question, the question basic to confronting our fears, is how are we going to live.”—from Facing Fear

After the presidential campaign and election in 2004, Judith Strasser set out to investigate the nature of fear and its widespread use as a political campaign strategy. After flying to Seattle to conduct research for her study of political fear, Strasser returned home to a diagnosis of stomach cancer. Facing Fear traces Strasser’s attempt to understand the nature of fear and anxiety and to regain control of a life threatened by a fatal disease. Part memoir, part journalism, and all heart, her book explores our biological and psychological responses to fearful events, examines the culture of fear in which we live, and suggests ways in which we, both as individuals and as members of a community, can overcome our anxieties and face our fears with courage and hope.

“For Judith Strasser, September 11th was the start of a life-changing exploration of the very nature of fear and courage, a search she details in her wonderful book. This journey sends her back to her earlier recovery from cancer and her memories of a brutal murder, as well as out into the world to a Colombian community devoted to peace in spite of living daily with both fear and violence. . . . Facing Fear offers an abundance of insights without once faltering into self-help clichés. Instead, Strasser takes us with her, sharing her hard-won knowledge and guiding us along a precarious path that ends in hope.” —Jesse Lee Kercheval, author of The Alice Stories

“I was reading Judith Strasser’s brilliant examination of the cross-section between violence and hatred during the same week that a gunman who wanted to kill liberals and homosexuals attacked a children’s show at a Unitarian meeting house in Tennessee. We live in tenuous times when unspeakable crimes are committed. But those crimes are not unexplainable—at least not for those in possession of Strasser’s compelling consideration of our difficult circumstances and prospects for escaping them.”—John Nichols, correspondent for The Nation

Judith Strasser (1944–2009) is the author of a memoir, Black Eye: Escaping a Marriage, Writing a Life, and two poetry collections: The Reason/Unreason Project, which won the Lewis-Clark Press Expedition Award, and Sand Island Succession: Poems of the Apostles. Judith wrote about life and health on her blog, In Lieu of Speech ( She was formerly a senior producer and interviewer for To the Best of Our Knowledge, a nationally syndicated public radio show. She lived in Madison, Wisconsin.

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The cover of Strasser's book shows a colorful boat, from above. Each rib-like section of the boat is painted a different pastel color.

March 2009
LC: 2008932130
221 pp. 5 5/8 x 8 3/8

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Paper $19.95 t
ISBN 978-0-9768781-9-3
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