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

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Penguin, Feb 4, 2010 - History - 416 pages
2 Reviews
"Meticulous in its research, forensic in its reasoning, robust in its argument, and often hilarious in its debunking... a highly entertaining rumble with the century's major conspiracy theorists and their theories." --John Lahr, National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of Tennessee Williams

From an award-winning journalist, a history so funny, so true, so scary, it's bound to be called a conspiracy.


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 David Aaronovitch, there came a time when he started to see a pattern among these inflammatory theories. these theories used similarly murky methods with which to insinu­ate their claims: they linked themselves to the supposed conspiracies of the past (it happened then so it can happen now); they carefully manipulated their evidence to hide its holes; they relied on the authority of dubious aca­demic sources. Most important, they elevated their believers to membership of an elite- a group of people able to see beyond lies to a higher reality. But why believe something that entails stretching the bounds of probabil­ity so far?

In this entertaining and enlightening book, he examines why people believe conspiracy theories, and makes an argument for a true skepticism: one based on a thorough knowledge of history and a strong dose of common sense.
 

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A pretty good book, did an excellent job of reviewing in a pretty fair-minded way (considering the conspiracy position is by definition somewhat crazy) the evidence for and against individual conspiracy theories (the latter largely consisting of reading the official analysis of what happened, which will generally address quite squarely the "inconsistencies" of the alleged conspiracy theory). Aaronovitch has a nice sampling of large and small, local and distant conspiracy theories, and at times is genuinely funny in a dry-British-wit way.Takes a very sympathetic look at the proponents as well, and politely if excruciatingly tears down their arguments while leaving them with what little dignity and good intentions remains afterwards. 

Contents

The Greatest Royalties Ever Earned
The New Scholarship of Lincoln Baigent and Leigh
The Grail Upturned the Blood Congealing
You Knew It All Along
Plantards Willing Victims
The HiddenHand Redux
A Brief History of PseudoScholars
Schonfield and the Bible

The Protocols on the Move
Ford and the Protocols
Enter Sir John
Enter Machiavelli
From Nilus to Rachkovsky
Reality Provides the Best Commentary
Who Would Have Believed It?
What Happened Next
The Protocols and the Middle East
Party Quarrels
Back to the Plot
The Oslo Accords
Pyatakov Repents
Home Truths
The Reaction Abroad
The Truth
Why the Lie Was Believed
The Stalinist Buttress
A Paranoid Belief
Flynn and the New Deal
The War Conspiracy
Neutrality and Isolationism
America First
Roosevelt Knew
The Triple Conspiracy
Day of Deceit
A Brief History of Revisionism
Flynn and the Reds
UnAmerican Activities
Enter McCarthy
Why Flynnism?
The Legacy of Harry Elmer Barnes
Descartes to Doppelgängers
The Dead Left
Lone Assassins
The Magic Bullet
The Disorder of the City
Exit Marilyn
Secret Marriages Hidden Tapes Duped Reporters
More Forgeries
And Exit the Princess of Hearts
Executive Intelligence
Landmines
Filing Down the Pins
The Transmission of Credulity
Conspiracy on Trial
The Untidiness of Reality
Death of a Rose Grower Part One
Death of a Rose Grower Part Two
Death of a Rose Grower Part Three
Henry Lincoln and the TV Quest for the Holy Grail
The SecondGreatest Story Ever Told
The AntiStratfordians
The Power of Conspiracy
Mobile Phones Dont Work from Altitude Simple as That
Enter the Dean
The Hole That Was Too Small
Murderous Holograms and Other Fancies
The Structural Engineers with a Special Place in Hell
A Long Digressive Note on Webster G Tarpley
The Missing Four Thousand
Mind the Gap
In Defense of Extreme Improbability
Cui bono?
The Historians Fallacy
The Death of a Government Inspector
The Suicidal Type and Other Norms
The Baker Method
Dark Hints
Liberty and Truth
Crockfords and the Borgias
Cui Bono?
The Lady in Red
A Question of Certification
The Farah and Corsi Show
Going to Arkansas
The Apotheosis of Conspiracism
Lies Spies and Stings Gone Wrong
The Killing Fields
The Death of Vince Foster
The Vast RightWing Conspiracy
Wagging the Dog
Back After a Long Vacation
Birthers and Truthers
RFK Must Die
The True Skeptic
History for Losers
The Souls Version of the Truth
Good and Bad Conspiracism
Hysteria
About Fashion
The Triumph of Narrative
The Catastrophe of Indifference
Blame Kevin
2 Dark Miracles
3 Conspiracies to the Left
4 Dead Deities
5 A Very British Plot
6 Holy Blood Holy Grail Holy Shit
7 A Few Clicks of a Mouse
8 Mr Pooter Forms a Theory
9 I Want My Country Back
Bedtime Story
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About the author (2010)

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 and three daughters.

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