While trauma and loss can occur anywhere, most suffering is experienced as personal tragedy. Yet some tragedies transcend everyday life's sad but inevitable traumas to become notorious public events: de facto "public" tragedies. In these crises, suffering is made publicly visible and lamentable. Such tragedies are defined by public accusations, social blame, outpourings of grief and anger, spontaneous memorialization, and collective action. These, in turn, generate a comparable set of political reactions, including denial, denunciation, counterclaims, blame avoidance, and a competition to control memories of the event.
Disasters and crises are no more or less common today than in the past, but public tragedies now seem ubiquitous. After Tragedy Strikes argues that they are now epochal—public tragedies have become the day's definitive social and political events. Thomas D. Beamish deftly explores this phenomenon by developing the historical context within which these events occur and the role that political elites, the media, and an emergent ideology of victimhood have played in cultivating their ascendence.