The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History
By David Aaronovitch
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488955, 400pp.)
Publication Date: February 4, 2010
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An absorbing, probing look at the conspiracy theories that operate on the sidelines of history and the reasons they continue to play such a seditious role, from an award-winning journalist.
Our age is obsessed by the idea of conspiracy. We see it everywhere- from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from the assassination of Kennedy to the death of Diana. In this age of terrorism we live in, the role of conspiracy is a serious one, one that can fuel radical or fringe elements to violence.
For David Aaronovitch, there came a time when he started to see a pattern among these inflammatory theories. these theories used similarly murky methods with which to insinuate their claims: they linked themselves to the supposed conspiracies of the past (it happened then so it can happen now); they carefully manipulated their evidence to hide its holes; they relied on the authority of dubious academic sources. Most important, they elevated their believers to membership of an elite- a group of people able to see beyond lies to a higher reality. But why believe something that entails stretching the bounds of probability so far? Surely it is more likely that men did actually land on the moon in 1969 than that thousands of people were enlisted to fabricate an elaborate hoax.
In this entertaining and enlightening book -aimed at providing ammunition for those who have found themselves at the wrong end of a conversation about moon landings or the twin towers-Aaronovitch carefully probes and explodes a dozen of the major conspiracy theories. In doing so, he examines why people believe them, and makes an argument for a true skepticism: one based on a thorough knowledge of history and a strong dose of common sense.
David Aaronovitch is an award-winning journalist, who has worked in radio, television and newspapers in the United Kingdom since the early 1980s. His first book, Paddling to Jerusalem, won the Madoc prize for travel literature in 2001. He is also the recipient of the George Orwell Prize for political journalism. He writes a regular column for The Times (UK). He lives in north London, with his wife and three daughters.
For almost every major world event — from the Apollo moon landing to Hurricane Katrina — there's a conspiracy theory to undermine the conventional view of the way things took place. Voodoo Histories, a new book by David Aaronovitch, takes aim at some of the most notorious. More at NPR.org
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"Terrifying, hilarious, irreverent and addictively compelling, Voodoo Histories is an instant classic that should be read by everyonea brilliant, witty and devastating analysis of, and guide to, the big lies of modern history by our most brilliant commentator" Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court Of The Red Tsar "A brilliant, sparkling and witty demolition of numerous conspiracy theoriesnot only dotty but sometimes, as in the case of the fabricated Protocols of the Elders of Zionhighly dangerous and an analysis of why otherwise intelligent people are so ready to believe in them" Ian Kershaw, author of Hitler