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Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  107 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
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 o ...more
ebook, 257 pages
Published November 7th 2003 by University of California Press (first published 2003)
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Jeb Card
Oct 12, 2010 Jeb Card rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent examination of the fluidity of conspiracy thinking and politics in American society. Barkun shows how seemingly unrelated concepts, if they are considered "forbidden" can crosscut and produce bizarre combinations (antisemitism, populist right wing and New Age left wing politics, UFOs, and subterranean lizard people shouldn't have much in common, and yet ...). His study of the development of Reptilian lore was particularly useful for me, and has pushed me into making some links of my ow ...more
Brian
Oct 07, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All in all, a fascinating spotlight on a surreal dark corner of American culture.

They really are out there. And they are strange...very strange.
Eric
Jun 14, 2013 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up to prepare and research for a class I'm teaching this fall focusing on the rhetoric of conspiracy theories. A fascinating (as well as frightening and frustrating) read. His terms and categories make it easier to understand and digest the nebulous and contradictory narratives given in these circles. I was a little disappointed in the 9/11 chapter as it felt a little more general and summary of their responses. Maybe it's just indicative of the (relatively, at least when this was ...more
Phillip
Feb 26, 2012 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book added a new phrase to my idiolect, "stigmatized knowledge".

The author of this book is a sociologist who wrote a book about protestant Christian skin heads. He said that he gathered and read all of the literature he could find while researching that book. A surprise for him was that conspiracy theories, including the existence of UFOs and otherworldly aliens, were a staple of this literature. He used the material on conspiracies to write the current book.

The author says he doesn't know
...more
Bertrand
Jan 13, 2013 Bertrand rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“You shall hear your history such as I think I have read it, not in books composed by those like you, for they are liars, but in the book of nature which never lies.” Jean Jacques Rousseau, On the Inequality among Mankind, Introduction, 7

Barkun's work need to be divided between his research work and his analysis: although he set out to provide us with an overview of the subject of conspiracies at large, and an analysis of the phenomenon to be applied generically, one is bound to review the autho
...more
Tobias
May 12, 2013 Tobias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting account of how different conspiracy theories melded into a unified subculture of conspiracy in the 1990s, in which conspiracy theorists have blended once-separate conspiracy theories (UFOs, Masons, Jews, New World Order, etc.) into a super conspiracy, what Barkun calls "improvisational millennialism."
Trish Roberts-miller
Excellent summary, almost an encyclopedia.
Simon
Sep 04, 2014 Simon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author begins from the premise that all conspiracy theories are bunk. He also defines the word conspiracy effectively as an untenable assertion. These are false premises. Yet there are conspiracies. The assassination of Julius Caesar was a conspiracy, as were many other (if not all) assassinations of political leaders. It seems the aim here is to debunk the weird and wonderful, but without a proper study of history.
Tim
Oct 27, 2011 Tim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The latest work from a leading scholar of millennial and radical religious movements. I can't imagine reading all the stuff he's had to read to put this together, but he can't identify how many people he's describing, or assess their real impact.
Mike
May 15, 2013 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A useful overview of past and present conspiracy theories, with attention paid, in particular, to the relationship between conspiratorial and millennial thought.
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