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The essays in this collection present communities beset by unexpected social and physical events. Some outline immediate responses that soon pass and some that will not go away. Who would have foreseen that Elvis would be a phenomenon apparently as lasting as the faces on Mount Rushmore? Cultural history will not allow us to forget the H. G. Wells account of the Martian attack, nor can we ever forget the continued terror of the Chernobyl explosion. Ordinary Reactions to Extraordinary Events catalogues on the Geiger counter of human emotions societal reactions to events both earthshaking and culture-disturbing.