Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America” as Want to Read:
A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  146 Ratings  ·  17 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
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published November 7th 2003 by University of California Press (first published 2003)
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 A Culture of Conspiracy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Culture of Conspiracy

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Jeb Card
Sep 21, 2010 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
Bertrand
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
“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 rated it really liked it
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."
Brian
Jun 19, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Phillip
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Eric
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Patricia Roberts-Miller
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent summary, almost an encyclopedia.
Henning
Rent deskriptiv skildring av olika konspirationsteorier som florerar i USA. Barkun följer grundsatsen att konspirationsteorier i sig är marginalfenomen och uttryck för "stigmatiserad kunskap". På så sätt blir de aktörer han tar fasta på i princip uteslutande ett gäng vansinniga kufar. Analysen känns ibland ganska tunn. Internet, globalisering och misstro mot makten har gjort det enklare för galna idéer att få någon sorts fotfäste, om dock i mer utspädd och kaotiskt uppblandad form. No shit, sher ...more
Raughley Nuzzi
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was a great book that gave insight into the mindset required for belief in conspiracies great and small. The history and currency of conspiratorial belief is fascinating and my only criticism of this book is that it was published in 2006. Barkun missed out on the apotheosis of conspiracy in the campaign and election of President Trump. While the book touches on 9/11, it was written in an era before the internet had properly come into its own--before pizzagate or wikileaks or the birther mov ...more
Patrick Bair
Not particularly well written, the accumulation of informative is nevertheless worthwhile. I wish Barkun had spent more time discussing the psychology of those people who perceive every day conspiracies, but who don't necessarily connect them to a larger world view, so-called "closed systems of belief."
Patrick
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating examination of the overlap between various UFO and New Age literatures and communities with fascist thought. Given the state of things now, with Alex Jones having press credentials and #fakenews on the rise, it's hard not to wince whenever Barkun assures readers that these ideas are not part of the mainstream.
Bradley Kale
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
So the roots of most conspiracy theories: prejudice and profitable fantasy.
Simon
Jun 09, 2014 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 rated it it was ok
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.
Michael T.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
You may want to skip the first chapter, as it is a little dry and academic with it's jargony definitions. Once through that, though, there is some amazing information here. Especially timely in our through the looking glass era, too.
Mike
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
A useful overview of past and present conspiracy theories, with attention paid, in particular, to the relationship between conspiratorial and millennial thought.
Heather
rated it liked it
Dec 05, 2012
Lee Edwards-Kelsall
rated it really liked it
Jan 22, 2015
Ólafur Arnaldsson
rated it it was amazing
Jul 05, 2017
David
rated it it was ok
Feb 27, 2012
Phyllis Rippeyoung
rated it really liked it
Apr 03, 2014
Jude Wright
rated it really liked it
May 18, 2018
David
rated it liked it
Aug 14, 2013
Jeremy
rated it really liked it
Mar 20, 2014
Lenhardt Stevens
rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2018
Paul
rated it liked it
Jan 04, 2009
Carlos
rated it it was ok
May 13, 2013
Tpeter
rated it really liked it
Aug 05, 2009
Patrick Moore
rated it really liked it
Aug 26, 2012
Valeria
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2012
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mysteries of the World: Unexplained Wonders and Mysterious Phenomena
  • An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
  • Petit cours d'autodéfense intellectuelle
  • Debunking 9/11 Myths
  • True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society
  • Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science
  • The Threat: The Secret Agenda What the Aliens Really Want and How They Plan to Get It
  • The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin
  • Rapture for the Geeks: When AI Outsmarts IQ
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
  • Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place
  • The New Jackals: Ramzi Yousef, Osama bin Laden, and the Future of Terrorism
  • When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture
  • Sacred Causes: The Clash of Religion and Politics, from the Great War to the War on Terror
  • Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order
  • How Societies Remember
  • The Rise of the Fourth Reich: The Secret Societies That Threaten to Take Over America
  • An Autobiographical Study