There is a hunger for conspiracy news in America. Hundreds of Internet websites, magazines, newsletters, even entire publishing houses, disseminate information on invisible enemies and their secret activities, subversions, and coverups. Those who suspect conspiracies behind events in the news -- the crash of TWA Flight 800, the death of Marilyn Monroe -- join generations of Americans, from the colonial period to the present day, who have entertained visions of vast plots. In this enthralling book Robert Goldberg focuses on five major conspiracy theories of the past half-century, examining how they became widely popular in the United States and why they have remained so.
In the post-World War II decades conspiracy theories have become more numerous, more commonly believed, and more deeply embedded in our culture, Goldberg contends. He investigates conspiracy theories regarding the Roswell UFO incident, the communist threat, the rise of the Antichrist, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the Jewish plot against black America, in each case considering the various historical, social, and political influences. Conspiracy theories are not merely the products of a lunatic fringe, the author shows. Rather, paranoid rhetoric and thinking are disturbingly central in America today. With media validation and dissemination of conspiracy ideas, and with federal government behavior that damages public confidence and faith, the ground is fertile for conspiracy thinking.
[E]ssential reading. . . . Goldberg demonstrates that this paranoid style of thinking is disturbingly alive and well in American life and culture.