Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture

Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture

by Mark Fenster
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions


 JFK, Karl Marx, the Pope, Aristotle Onassis, Howard Hughes, Fox Mulder, Bill Clinton, both George Bushes—all have been linked to vastly complicated global (or even galactic) intrigues. Two years after Mark Fenster first published Conspiracy Theories, the attacks of 9/11 stirred the imaginations of a new generation of believers. Before theSee more details below

Overview


 JFK, Karl Marx, the Pope, Aristotle Onassis, Howard Hughes, Fox Mulder, Bill Clinton, both George Bushes—all have been linked to vastly complicated global (or even galactic) intrigues. Two years after Mark Fenster first published Conspiracy Theories, the attacks of 9/11 stirred the imaginations of a new generation of believers. Before the black box from United 93 had even been found, there were theories put forth from the implausible to the offensive and outrageous. 

In this new edition of the landmark work, and the first in-depth look at the conspiracy communities that formed to debunk the 9/11 Commission Report, Fenster shows that conspiracy theories play an important role in U.S. democracy. Examining how and why they circulate through mass culture, he contends, helps us better understand society as a whole. Ranging from The Da Vinci Codeto the intellectual history of Richard Hofstadter, he argues that dismissing conspiracy theories as pathological or marginal flattens contemporary politics and culture because they are—contrary to popular portrayal—an intense articulation of populism and, at their essence, are strident calls for a better, more transparent government. Fenster has demonstrated once again that the people who claim someone’s after us are, at least, worth hearing.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Bookforum
Fenster, a lone writer (the literary equivalent of a lone gunman, perhaps), segues from the novels of Thomas Pynchon to the Clinton Death List. . . . Conspiracy Theories is a dangerous book. I suspect 'they' (and you know who I mean, of course) will take care of this lone writer any day now.
Voice Literary Supplement
Fenster culls the liveliest counterintelligences out there—the Michigan Militia, religious millennialists, Chris Carter, even Oliver Stone—and sets them up as the last idealists. They might be obsessive and maniacal, but they're after a transparent political system, where big business and the government can be held accountable. Their 'paranoid style,' according to Fenster, is just old-school populism refitted for the media age.
Philadelphia City Paper
Fenster makes a powerful argument for regarding conspiracism as an integral product of the political system, reflecting inadequacies the establishment itself is blind to and expressing strong desires for the realization of frustrated ideals. Conspiracy Theories is a fascinating look at an important, little-studied topic. Informative and thought-provoking.
American Book Review
Fenster's careful examination of conspiratorial beliefs as evidence by right-wing groups, by various media, and even by those who devise such theories as a form of ludic or satiric endeavor (like Robert Anton Wilson) is revealing. And his articulation of the set of political-rather than pathological-reasons for their behavior is salutary.
Publisher's Weekly
A commendably level-headed analysis of the grip that conspiracy theories maintain on contemporary America. Fenster notes that conspiracy theory serves a useful purpose as a balm to the politically alienated segments of society. By neither dismissing paranoid kooks nor being seduced by their yarns, Fenster constructs a strong case that even while we do not believe, we should nonetheless listen.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781452914107
Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
Publication date:
07/29/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Mark T. Reinhardt
Only a vast academic conspiracy can keep this book from having the impact it deserves.
Gerald Posner
Fenster's illuminating study sets forth a stimulating correlation between the popularity of our obsessive interest in conspiracy theories and the social and political values of our society.
Barbie Zelizer
I find the issue of conspiracy theory compelling and appreciate Fenster's fruitful approach to what has been mysteriously ignored by the academy.
—(Barbie Zelizer, author of Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >