Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History” as Want to Read:
Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  1,384 Ratings  ·  234 Reviews
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 award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch, there came a time when he started to see
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published March 3rd 2010 by Tantor Media (first published May 7th 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Voodoo Histories, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Voodoo Histories

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Paul Bryant


Our text for today is :

Things only appear random because you're standing TOO CLOSE!

Let's cut to the chase here. Conspiracies are real. A trade union is a conspiracy against the rat-bastard capitalist running dogs who run big business. The capitalist running dogs in turn conspire against the honest workers to screw them out of every penny and when they're coughing and flopping about from emphysema, sack e
Jul 07, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yesterday morning my neighbor directly across the street committed suicide. Well, her body was discovered yesterday; the suicide took place on July 4th. So, 40 yards from my house, and 20 yards from where my kids and I were lighting fireworks in the street, laughing, our neighbor was alone, in her car, idling a full tank of gas all the way to empty in her sealed garage. We didn’t notice any noise, no gas fumes escaping from the cracks around the door, oblivious to the world, nothing else out of ...more
NASA landing a man on the moon was one of the biggest engineering challenges ever taken on. It involved thousands of people and billions of dollars. It was documented by countless still pictures, hours of film, warehouses full of paperwork and scientific data. And some people will tell you that it never happened. Because they use bad science and faulty assumptions to say that it’s far more likely that the U.S. pulled off the most elaborate lie in history rather than that that we actually went to ...more
Jan 31, 2015 Jim rated it really liked it
This is LONG & details many of the big conspiracy theories; who killed JFK, RFK, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana & many others. Did Jesus screw up faking his own death? (I hadn't heard that one before.) Did astronauts visit us 10,000 years ago & how much truth is there to the DaVinci Code? (Actually, I read some of the true history of that one in a knock off book.) All of these questions & more are answered in painstaking detail.

The one big question about them is why was there eve
Apr 15, 2011 Marvin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Nice treatise on the nature of conspiracy theories and why people believe them beyond any other reasonable explanation. The author looks at a number of past conspiracies going all the way back to the Priory of Sion, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Senator Joseph McCarthy's Commie baiting and the JFK assassination. . However it also includes more current theories like 9/11 truthers and birthers to name a few. While Aaronovitch does a good job in debunking them, this is not the main intention ...more
I guess we have all experienced a moment when someone you thought was quite a rational and sensible person suddenly espouses belief in a conspiracy theory, It might be about the 1969 moon landings or the events of 9/11 or global warming being a myth but whatever it is it nearly always implausible. If you point out the holes and impracticalities and the lack of cui bono in these theories you will often find yourself derided as being "close-minded" at best and "brain-washed" at worst. You may begi ...more
Phil Gonzales
Apr 24, 2011 Phil Gonzales rated it it was ok
A great book destroyed by a terrible recording. The narrator commits a major faux pas in non-fiction audiobook recording: he tries to do character voices. He has a great reading voice, but every time there is a quote, he throws on a voice. Problem: every Russian sounds like Boris Badenov, every French person sounds like Pepe Le Pew, every American sounds like a gangster (even FDR!) and don't get me started on the Japanese! Oh, christ! It's like an old Fu Manchu movie. Terrible. So distracting.

Anita Dalton
I liked this book but not for the reasons I purchased it. As someone who has spent a lot of time wallowing in conspiracy at different times in my life, there was little new for me in this book (though this is not to say there was not some content unfamiliar to me – there was and it was fascinating). Moreover, this book is more a debunking attempt than really a look at how conspiracy theory has shaped modern history for the average person. No one can walk away from this book and feel that any of ...more
Kevin Cecil
My Conspiracy Theory: Every morning Alex Jones sticks his head up his own ass and farts delusions into his mouth. Mr. Jones then transmits his Delusional Fart Breath (DFB) into the atmosphere via dull, nonsensical, and paranoid speeches, which are spread to the general population via youtube videos and/or radiowaves.

Be advised: DFB is a contagious airborn toxin which can infect anyone who sees patterns in nothing (and/or everything), and likes to think they know more than the rest of the blind
Robert Godden
May 18, 2015 Robert Godden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really important read.
I accidentally acquired this and only read it because I was short on options.Turned out to be an excellent accident.
It gripped me from the first chapter, about how a hoax manuscript called "The Protocols of The Elders of Zion" led to a wave of anti-Semitism ahead of the turn of the 20th century.
Over the course of the book, it looked at the involvement of important historical figures and the 'man in the street' in every major conspiracy over the last few hundred years.
This book looks at a series of modern conspiracy theories, from pre-Nazi anti-Semitic rumors and Stalinist show trials to 9/11 Truthers. Aaronovitch's take is frequently ironic in tone--when I noticed that the chapter on Dan Brown-style Grail/Catholic conspiracy theories was called 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Holy Shit,' I knew I was going to like it. If you have a pet conspiracy, you'll probably hate it, but if you're willing to look at rumors with a healthy dose of skepticism, it's a pleasure to ...more
Stephen Hayes
Feb 17, 2011 Stephen Hayes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: our-books, society
It is said that there are two main theories of history: the conspiracy theory and the cock-up theory. In this book the author examines some of the conspiracy theories of the last century or so, and comprehensively debunks them.

But debunking and refuting conspiracy theories is not the main purpose of the book. It rather shows that whether or not there are conspiracies, beliefs in conspiracy theories often do more to shape history than the conspiracies the theorists believe in. An example is the
Jul 26, 2010 Nicola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a friend go off the deep end with his conspiracy theories. He would spend half the night following hyperlinks, say that he couldn't even tell me about all the things he knows, point out all the unmarked cars in our small town, build his bunker in the woods, and worry about all the people photographing him. This wouldn't have necessarily ended our friendship completely--there was room for fascination--but because he was so pretentious about all the conspiracies he was privy to, it was reall ...more
I'm nearly at the end of the book -- some three pages in fact, having just looked -- and ... I don't know.

The author clearly has a very strong sense of Fact and Not!Fact. He spends a lot of time reviewing how Not!Facts get treated as facts, and diagramming the way conspiracy theories develop, interlock, and support each others lies -- the same names over and over.

And yet. If he does it in the last three pages, then it's more than I'm expecting. I'll do him the credit of assuming he wants you to
Sonja Reid
Jun 28, 2010 Sonja Reid rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
An interesting take on conspiracy theories, this book meanders through quite a few of them: the deaths of Diana and JFK and Marilyn Monroe , 9/11, Pearl Harbor...the list goes on. I found the chapter about "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" to be particularly well-done.

Unfortunately, Aaronovitch can't resist the lure of the occasional snarky comment, which doesn't actually build his case. And in a section about the murder of an elderly anti-nuclear activist, he clearly thinks that rape is an
Tobin Elliott
Oct 18, 2015 Tobin Elliott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this one. Aaronovitch packs a lot of details and research into this book, but it's necessary when he's skewering some of the greatest conspiracy theories of the last 100 years or so.

I picked this one up because I really am one of those people who roll their eyes at the multiple killer theories for JFK, RFK and Marilyn Monroe. I smile indulgently at those that believe Obama was born in Kenya and that 9/11 was an inside job. Telling me the moon landing I watched when I was six years
Sep 04, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The inside cover of this book implied it was funny. And I laughed a fair few times but mainly I'm walking away from this book bothered.

Aaronovitch tackles conspiracies from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the belief that the US government allowed the Pearl Harbor attacks to happen and outright orchestrated the World Trade Center attacks. And more, those are just the ones that struck me most.

Each chapters presents the conspiracy theory, the historical context and carefully points out the f
May 24, 2012 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I enjoyed the author's methodical dissection of multiple conspiracy theories, if only because I find conspiracists ridiculous, and so does the author. The epilogue also contained a thoughtful and interesting speculation on why conspiracy theories have so much appeal. If someone in your life is bedeviling you with ridiculous conspiracy theories, this is the book for you.
May 15, 2014 Krista rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014
The believer in a conspiracy theory or theories becomes, in his own mind, the one in proper communion with the underlying universe, the one who understands the true ordering of things…conspiracy theories are actually reassuring. They suggest that there is an explanation, that human agencies are powerful, and that there is order rather than chaos. This makes redemption possible.

It was revealed in the newspaper this week that 14% of Canadians are considered anti-Semitic, agreeing with such state
Arthur Schwartz
“Occam's Razor,” a maxim that urges acceptance of the simplest and least convoluted solution to problems is often used to counter unorthodox claims. Often times it has utility and makes for good commonsense. However, the maxim is often over used. Simple explanations don't always work for the very simple reason that sometimes the reason things are the way they are is because they are not simple or ordinary. David Aaronovitch in Voodoo Histories: The role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern ...more
Joely Black
Jul 03, 2011 Joely Black rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skepticism
A great introduction to the business of debunking conspiracy theories. Having attended David Aaronovitch's talk on the subject at GMSS, I was curious to read the book behind it. Aaronovitch has created a useful synthesis of major conspiracy theories of the twentieth and 21st centuries, from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to 9/11. He finishes with an interesting discussion on the reasons why conspiracy theories have become so prevalent recently, who and why we believe in them.

The work is tho
Mar 21, 2010 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading the utter crap that was 1421 The Year China Discovered America, this book seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. Aaronovitch is a British journalist who doesn't buy into conspiracy theories. Here, he outlines some of the bigger ones from the past 100 years or so, starting with the Protocols of Zion and ending with the Birther movement. He also includes two big ones from Britain, and it says a lot about the power of these ideas that the average American, even one who considers h ...more
This was an extremely interesting and insightful read. Aaronovitch examines a multitude of conspiracy theories, their believers, and the effect these fringe ideas have on politics, history, and the general population. He focuses mostly on US and Britain, with some forays into Western Europe. He examines it all with a skeptical eye, which works for me, because when it comes to conspiracies I am a HUGE skeptic, but for those with a less skeptic mindset, he may be biased, in that he believes that v ...more
Brian S. Wise
3.5 stars. “Voodoo Histories” is a valuable read; mostly smart and well written. Though Aaronovitch lost me here and there in the middle chapters, his 9/11 chapter is especially worth reading. My one true disappointment came late in the book when, while covering Birthers and Clinton era conspiracies, he writes the following:

“But the Birther charge has been led by Joseph Farah at WND, Christopher Ruddy at NewsMax, and by Accuracy in Media, making use of the Internet and right-wing radio and cable
Daniel Fitzgerald
Jun 01, 2010 Daniel Fitzgerald rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kinda smug in terms of the author's voice and approach to the subject. The arguments weren't terribly solid--for instance, his main criteria for discussing any given conspiracy theory was that he could easily claim to debunk it. The huge field of JFK nonsense is given less space than the Harrodown Hill incident. Aaronovitch also doesn't always do a good job of describing and differentiating between the various conspiracy theorists and their methods, arguments, and potential motivations; however, ...more
Patrick Sprunger
I have no idea how David Aaronovitch would describe the "role of conspiracy theory in shaping modern history." The author spends such an inordinate amount of time commenting on how stupid various conspiracies actually are that he never quite gets around to his thesis.*

Of course, Aaronovitch isn't wrong. Conspiracy theories - from CIA involvement in the Kennedy assassination, British royal family orchestration of Diana's death, President Bush's war mongering desire to stage 9/11, to the "birther"
Apr 20, 2013 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent book, which traces the history of conspiracy theories from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion through the redbaiting of the 1950s, the assassination of JFK and the supposed assassination of Diana, Princess of Wales, up to the MIHOP and LIHOP twins of 9/11 and the "birthers" of present day. Aaronovitch gives a clear and scholarly outline of the beginnings of each conspiracy, the dynamics of its spread, and the effect it has upon history as we know it.

His last chapter ties i
Given the recent surge in power and presence of conspiracy theories in modern culture post 9/11 you'd think this book would have quickly found itself a cornerstone for the national dialog. You'd think people would be discussing Aaronovitch along with Malcom Gladwell and Fareed Zakaria. Conspiracy theory is the new black, especially when it comes to formulating perspectives on world events, and an amazing menagerie of weird has recently percolated up from the woodwork into household usage.

But ev
I read this book because I enjoy conspiracy theories but I don't want to become someone who starts believing them. This definitely helped with that. It reminds you that the most plausible theory is probably the correct theory and that just because someone benefits from an event does not mean that they are most likely to have caused it. It is also a reminder that books that look like scholarship are not always scholarship, calling into question "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" which I read sometime aroun ...more
Mar 21, 2011 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aaronovitch's exploration of some of the lasting conspiracy theories of the 20th and 21st centuries is enthralling. This is not a book for those who hold fast to conspiracy theories-- Aaronovitch's careful, reasoned skepticism dismantles them utterly.

One thing that I particularly liked about the book was the focus not just on rightist theories but from those held by the left as well. I was especially gratified to find his discussion of the Stalinist show trials thorough. He also discusses the l
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground
  • A Smuggler's Bible
  • The Collected Writings Of Ambrose Bierce
  • Everything Is Under Control: Conspiracies, Cults and Cover-ups
  • Strange Days Indeed: The 1970s: The Golden Days of Paranoia
  • The CIA And The Cult Of Intelligence
  • The Warren Commission Report: The Official Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
  • Flying to America: 45 More Stories
  • Bats Out of Hell
  • Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more
  • Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK, A ballistics expert's astonishing discovery of the fatal bullet that Oswald did not fire
  • Counterknowledge
  • What's Left?
  • The Brunist Day of Wrath
  • The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman: Including The Brother
  • Who Killed John F. Kennedy? (Lose Your Own Adventure #1)
  • A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror
  • Debunking 9/11 Myths
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 ...more
More about David Aaronovitch...

Share This Book