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Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power

Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power

by Anna Merlan


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A riveting tour through the landscape and meaning of modern conspiracy theories, exploring the causes and tenacity of this American malady, from Birthers to Pizzagate and beyond

American society has always been fertile ground for conspiracy theories, but with the election of Donald Trump, previously outlandish ideas suddenly attained legitimacy. Trump himself is a conspiracy enthusiast: from his claim that global warming is a Chinese hoax to the accusations of “fake news,” he has fanned the flames of suspicion.

But it was not by the power of one man alone that these ideas gained new power. Republic of Lies looks beyond the caricatures of conspiracy theorists to explain their tenacity. Without lending the theories validity, Anna Merlan gives a nuanced, sympathetic account of the people behind them, across the political spectrum, and the circumstances that helped them take hold. The lack of a social safety net, inadequate education, bitter culture wars, and years of economic insecurity have created large groups of people who feel forgotten by their government and even besieged by it. Our contemporary conditions are a perfect petri dish for conspiracy movements: a durable, permanent, elastic climate of alienation and resentment. All the while, an army of politicians and conspiracy-peddlers has fanned the flames of suspicion to serve their own ends.

Bringing together penetrating historical analysis and gripping on-the-ground reporting, Republic of Lies transforms our understanding of American paranoia.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250231277
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/14/2020
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 183,969
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Anna Merlan is a journalist specializing in politics, crime, religion, subcultures, and women’s lives. She is a reporter at the Special Projects Desk, the investigative division of Gizmodo Media Group. She was previously a senior reporter at Jezebel and staff writer at the Village Voice and the Dallas Observer. She lives in New York.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

1 False Times 11

2 "None of It Is Crazy" 35

3 Nocturnal Ritual Pizza Party 57

4 False Flags 79

5 Useful Murders 103

6 Medical Oddities 121

7 A Natural Man 149

8 White Nationalist Cookout 171

9 The Politics of UFOs 199

10 Conspiracism Is for Everyone: The Deep State and Russiagate 219

Epilogue 241

Sources 251

Acknowledgments 261

Index 263

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