Political Conspiracies in America: A Reader

Political Conspiracies in America: A Reader

by Donald T. Critchlow, Matthew C. Sherman
     
 

This book provides students with documents relating to some of the more important and interesting conspiracy theories in American history and politics, some based on reality, many chiefly on paranoia. It provides a fascinating look at persistent and at times troubling aspects of democratic society.

Conspiracy theories have been a part of the American experience

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Overview

This book provides students with documents relating to some of the more important and interesting conspiracy theories in American history and politics, some based on reality, many chiefly on paranoia. It provides a fascinating look at persistent and at times troubling aspects of democratic society.

Conspiracy theories have been a part of the American experience since colonial times. The fear of a conspiracy to subvert the liberties of a free people was central to the ideology of the American revolutionaries. Scholars of American history have produced a rich literature on conspiracies involving, among others, Masons, Catholics, Mormons, Jews, moneyed interests, Communists, and internationalists. Although scholarship focuses on the irrationality of those who hold these ideas, an exaggerated fear of a conspiracy does not mean that an actual conspiracy does not exist.

Whether the fear is real or imagined, political conspiracy is disruptive to democratic governance, which relies on open political discussion and the presumption of a rational electorate. As a free press and free speech protect the democracy from the usurpation of power by subversive agents that seek to destroy the system, so too can government take the anti-subversive measures necessary to preserve democratic society itself. If democratic government rests on the trust of the people in their public officials, a widespread fear of conspiracy suggests mistrust in political leadership, its veracity, and its ability to maintain order against real or imagined foes.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780253219640
Publisher:
Indiana University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2008
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,412,006
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.55(d)

Table of Contents


Introduction     vii
Conspiracy in a New Nation     1
Conspiracy in an Age of Democracy     25
Conspiracy in a Divided Nation     49
Conspiracy in the Industrial Age through the New Deal     67
Conspiracy in the Cold War Era     101
Conspiracy in Contemporary America     143
For Further Reading     163
Index     169

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