American society has changed dramatically since A Culture of
Conspiracy was first published in 2001. In this revised and
expanded edition, Michael Barkun delves deeper into America's
conspiracy sub-culture, exploring the rise of 9/11 conspiracy
theories, the "birther" controversy surrounding Barack Obama's
American citizenship, and how the conspiracy landscape has changed
with the rise of the Internet and other new media.
What do UFO believers, Christian millennialists, and right-wing
conspiracy theorists have in common? According to Michael Barkun in
this fascinating yet disturbing book, quite a lot. It is well known
that some Americans are obsessed with conspiracies. The Kennedy
assassination, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 2001 terrorist
attacks have all generated elaborate stories of hidden plots. What
is far less known is the extent to which conspiracist worldviews
have recently become linked in strange and unpredictable ways with
other "fringe" notions such as a belief in UFOs, Nostradamus, and
the Illuminati. Unraveling the extraordinary genealogies and
permutations of these increasingly widespread ideas, Barkun shows
how this web of urban legends has spread among subcultures on the
Internet and through mass media, how a new style of conspiracy
thinking has recently arisen, and how this phenomenon relates to
larger changes in American culture. This book, written by a leading
expert on the subject, is the most comprehensive and authoritative
examination of contemporary American conspiracism to date.
Barkun discusses a range of material-involving inner-earth caves,
government black helicopters, alien abductions, secret New World
Order cabals, and much more-that few realize exists in our culture.
Looking closely at the manifestations of these ideas in a wide
range of literature and source material from religious and
political literature, to New Age and UFO publications, to popular
culture phenomena such as The X-Files, and to websites, radio
programs, and more, Barkun finds that America is in the throes of
an unrivaled period of millenarian activity. His book underscores
the importance of understanding why this phenomenon is now
spreading into more mainstream segments of American culture.
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