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American Madness: The Story of the Phantom Patriot and How Conspiracy Theories Hijacked American Consciousness

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  63 ratings  ·  20 reviews
The mainstream news media struggles to understand the power of social media while conspiracy advocates, malicious political movements, and even foreign governments have long understood how to harness the power of fear and the fear of power into lucrative outlets for outrage and money. But what happens when the harbingers of “inside knowledge” go too far?

Author Tea Krulos t
Paperback, 256 pages
Published August 25th 2020 by Feral House
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 ·  63 ratings  ·  20 reviews

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Jim Higgins
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Sad but illuminating story of a man who latched on to conspiracy theories during a vulnerable period of his life, and was ultimately destroyed by them.
Doug Brunell
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book could not be more timely, and you must read this if you have any interest in conspiracy theories and the people who believe in them.

Author Tea Krulos focuses on Richard McCaslin, a man who often dressed as a superhero but was more well-known for sneaking into Bohemian Grove and trying to burn it all down. McCaslin is a study in how conspiracy theories can grab someone, ferment in them, spiral out of control, and cause someone to take action. McCaslin's story is equal parts amusing, sca
Nov 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
While I wish it had more research and authoritative sources, the book is a great primer for the various conspiracy theories floating around, from the moon landing and JFK assassination to Pizzagate and QAnon. But ultimately, it’s a sympathetic look at a lonely and troubled man who loses himself down the rabbit hole. The question that propelled me through the book was will Richard find his way back out of that world?
Emily McFarlan Miller
Jan 11, 2021 rated it really liked it
My first read of the year turns out to be extremely relevant. I’ll be writing more about it for Religion News Service.
Shannon L.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
American Madness was a fascinating and disturbing deep dive into the strange world of one Richard McCaslin aka the Phantom Patriot. Krulos remains objective as possible about his subject, which he met while writing about another book about Real Life Super Heroes. The subject crawls pretty far down the “rabbit hole” of conspiracy theory. It’s both an empathetic look into a man’s life and also how this happens not just to the subject to how it has gripped so many Americans. He covers other branch ...more
Margot Lange
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Deeply engaging from start to finish. Interesting and engaging. Finishing this book brought about the emptiness of losing a good companion that all excellent reads are prone to do. I laughed, I cried, and I marveled. Must read!
Kristen Desjarlais-DeKlerk
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I teach Deviance at a community college and for the last four years, my class has read Tea Krulos's book. This one is no different. When I received a copy in the early fall, I was intrigued and captivated by the notion of conspiracy theorists and the ways in which conspiracy theories have captured American culture.

This is a fantastic piece of work. I encourage to you check it out. My students will be in the coming months.
Joshua Davis
Jan 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
American Madness is extremely timely and important reading that many conspiracy-minded Americans could benefit from. It is the story of a self-described superhero, Richard McCaslin, who donned a self-made costume to become the Phantom Patriot. Believing a conspiracy fed to him by Alex Jones, McCaslin, dressed as the Phantom Patriot, took various weapons and snuck into the Bohemian Grove, an all-male private retreat in Northern California with ties to the top levels of American politics. He belie ...more
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has a unique perspective on all the conspiracy theories you've heard for the past 20ish years. Its main focus is on Richard McCaslin who I hadn't heard anything about before reading this book. The author frames McCaslin's story within the context of a nation beginning to succumb to the isolation and anxiety that results from illogical and paranoid thinking. I like that the author doesn't try to analyze McCaslin and speculate on potential personality or mood disorders. It forces readers ...more
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
American Madness is a gripping story of the Phantom Patriot, a man who attempted to fight back against the evil he saw in the world. Tea's research led to a long term friendship with the protagonist, so the insight is real. Their relationship is set against the backdrop of the growing acceptance of fringe belief across our society. If you are curious to understand what some of the more popular conspiracy theories are all about, this is a great start! Overall, a superbly researched, fun, empathet ...more
D man W
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have been following Tea Krulos writing for some time now and this has been by far one of his best works yet. He delves deep into the world of Conspiracy theories with such vivid imagery and narrative that you finish the book feeling that you truly have experience the world that the individuals depicted within inhabit. He does an excellent job of humanising the characters he documents, providing a entertaining yet balanced view of their lives without harsh judgement but with an understanding th ...more
Nov 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book’s subject, Richard McCaslin, is on a journey to occupy the space and mission of an anti-government superhero while weaving through various toxic conspiracy theories. It goes to some dark, fringe American places.
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
Really great read. The book walks through a myriad of American conspiracy stories through the lens of Richard McCaslin, a "real life superhero" who considered almost every facet of his life to be manipulated by the government, supreme leaders, lizard people, the Clintons, etc etc and has dedicated himself to liberating the public. Really great juxtaposition of one man's seemingly bizarre beliefs with the rise of similar beliefs being championed in the American consciousness. Great storytelling a ...more
Brooke Wegner
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
A fascinating glimpse into the world of conspiracy theorists. Krulos provides a compassionate profile of one man’s journey to bring the”truth” to light.
Mike Huberty
Aug 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The story of real life Rorschach from Watchmen.

This book is the intersection of where real-life superheroes meet conspiracy theories meet. It's a journey into the heart of a seemingly good person whose belief system gets hijacked to the point of obssession. If you really thought that Hollywood and Washington D.C. were full of pedophiles, don't you have a moral imperative to do something about it? If you think that the world's elite ritually sacrifice a child at the Bohemian Grove annually, don'
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
In turns, hilarious and sad, Krulos documents the conspiracy theories and theorists that run rampant today, all through the lens of a man who fell into madness via an inescapable rabbit hole.
Bookish Jen
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Flat-Earthers. Anti-vaxxers. People who doubt the validity of President Obama’s birth. So-called “truthers” concerning the tragedies of 9/11 and the shootings at Sandy Hook. And now there is QAnon. We think we’re far too educated and sophisticated to fall for conspiracy theories.


But are we really?

Richard McCaslin may have thought he was not the kind of person to get wrapped up conspiracy theories. But he did, and his tale is expertly conveyed in the book American Madness: The Story
Riley Haas
Jan 01, 2021 rated it liked it
(Way) Before Pizzagate there was the Phantom Patriot's raid on Bohemian Grove. I had never heard of this before I read this book and completely missed any news coverage of the story, if there was any. So I'm glad I read this alternately hilarious and saddening story of one man's obsession with conspiracies and his attempt to do something about it.
On the whole, the story is well told. Krulos does an excellent job of humazing McCaslin and helping us understand how and why someone could get from ju
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received my copy via a Goodreads giveaway.
I have not yet finished the book.
This story was really, really interesting to me. It's frightening to me what's possible (to believe and to do) for a skeptic-turned-conspiracy theorist.
The book is more of a chronology than a psychological study - that surprised me, and was the only disappointment for this reader, but only because of my expectations.
Jason Roth
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well structured story throughout that never lagged and was written objectively yet also with sympathy.
Jake Strickler
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Dec 27, 2020
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Oct 17, 2020
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Mar 01, 2021
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Oct 14, 2020
Melissa Cheresnick
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Aug 10, 2020
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Feb 18, 2021
Jay Dougherty
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Sep 12, 2020
Adam Roberts
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Oct 20, 2020
Shove Mink
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Nov 22, 2020
Ulisses Teixeira
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Dec 23, 2020
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I'm a journalist and author from Milwaukee, WI. I've written for a wide range of publications and have authored 3 non-fiction books: Heroes in the Night (2013), Monster Hunters (2015), and Apocalypse Any Day Now (2019). I also contributed a chapter to The Supernatural in Society, Culture, and History (2018). I have two books out in 2020: Wisconsin Legends & Lore and American Madness.

I write a week

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