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The Carnivals of Life and Death: My Profane Youth: 1913-1935

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  62 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews

James Shelby Downard, who died at the age of eighty-three in 1996, is one of the most compelling conspiracy theorists of the twentieth century.

Robert Anton Wilson wrote that Downard’s “King-Kill” essay, regarding the involvement of Freemasons in the murder of John F. Kennedy, is “the most incredible Illuminati theory of them all.” Marilyn Manson wrote a song based on “King
Paperback, 280 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Feral House
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Jordan West
Apr 03, 2015 Jordan West rated it liked it
Shelves: library, read-in-2015
How does one go about rating a book like this? The opening chapters concern the author's childhood confrontations with villainous Freemason and Klan agents, listing the countless evildoers that he has shot, stabbed, and blown up by the age of ten; and it only gets more unbelievable from there. The memoirs of a conspiracy theorist renowned for his erudition as well as the outreness of his ideas, Downard's book comes off as a rather more lucid and literate version of Francis E. Dec's 'gangster ...more
Anita Dalton
This book reads like those Home Alone movies, you know the ones. A precocious kid with questionable parents keeps finding himself in violent situations wherein he bests his attackers. Imagine those movies except Kevin gets stalked and attacked by Freemasons and the Klan and you pretty much have the gist of this book. According to Downard, he was set up as a scapegoat (pharmakos) or symbolic whipping boy, presumably by his criminally negligent and downright weird parents, and spent his entire ...more
Nov 28, 2015 Maureen rated it liked it
This is one of the kookiest pieces of crap I have ever read. There are probably some pearls of truth buried in the muck, but I found much of this book very hard to take. A six year-old with a gun? Million Dollar Gold Certificates? Stacks of books written by someone with James Shelby
Downard's name? Close personal friend and issuer of the million dollar check, Franklin Delano Roosevelt? No wonder his father went crazy and his mother set him up to be killed multiple times.

And yet... Mansions built
If even an iota of what is written in this book actually occurs... wow.
Sep 13, 2016 Andrew rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
Part Brer Rabbit Stories, Part Tall Tales, all Southern-style Paranoia with the Klu Klux Klan and Freemason as ubiquitous baddies. It lies somewhere in that twilight zone between hogwash and an earnest chronicle of a life obsessed with the esoteric and occult.
Jan 19, 2010 T rated it liked it
I wanted to love this book. After reading a review in Paranoia Magazine, this seemed like it would be full of interesting things... and it was. My problem was with the patchy and verbose writing style. Despite how interested I was in the topics and events that James Shelby Downard had written in his journal, it never turned into the page-turner I was hoping for. This ended up taking much longer to read than I had planned on, and I unfortunately found myself struggling to finish it.

Aside from the
Dale Stonehouse
Sep 01, 2011 Dale Stonehouse rated it really liked it
This book was incomplete at the time of the author's death, which might be a blessing as fragmented and rambling as it is. His tales are too bizarre to be made up, but some of these events don't seem possible, even to the way out. I can't even recommend it for conspiracy students, but its shock value is off the charts. Too bad more of this can't be substantiated. Better reading in the same vein might be The Way Out of Hell or Suffer the Child by Judith Spencer.
Feb 25, 2015 Jake rated it liked it
Even in the vast world of "conspiracy" literature this book is a deep shade of weird. It seems more like a series of parables than an actual memoir. I couldn't possibly write a better review than Anita Dalton ( so I'll just link to her complete, excellent review here:
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Aug 28, 2012 Lynda rated it did not like it
Very hard to believe. Full of sexuality.
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American "conspiracy theorist" Mainly focusing on occult symbolism, twilight language and synchronicity behind historical events in the 20th century.
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