Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History
by Christopher R. Fee and Jeffrey B. Webb, Editors, Anika N. Jensen, Benjamin S. Kratz, Susanna L. Mills, Isabella Rosedietcher, Reilly M. Vore, Juliet M. Wilson, Assistant Editors
May 2019, 812pp, 7x10
2 volumes, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5810-9
$198, £147, 165€, A283
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-5811-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A recent survey sponsored by the University of Chicago found that more than half of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory.

This up-to-date introduction to the complex world of conspiracies and conspiracy theories provides insight into why millions of people are so ready to believe the worst about our political, legal, religious, and financial institutions.

Unsupported theories provide simple explanations for catastrophes that are otherwise difficult to understand, from the U.S. Civil War to the Stock Market Crash of 1929 to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York. Ideas about shadowy networks that operate behind a cloak of secrecy, including real organizations like the CIA and the Mafia and imagined ones like the Illuminati, additionally provide a way for people to criticize prevailing political and economic arrangements, while for society’s disadvantaged and forgotten groups, conspiracy theories make their suffering and alienation comprehensible and provide a focal point for their economic or political frustrations.

These volumes detail the highly controversial and influential phenomena of conspiracies and conspiracy theories in American society. Through interpretive essays and factual accounts of various people, organizations, and ideas, the reader will gain a much greater appreciation for a set of beliefs about political scheming, covert intelligence gathering, and criminal rings that has held its grip on the minds of millions of American citizens and encouraged them to believe that the conspiracies may run deeper, and with a global reach.

Features

  • Provides an in-depth, easy-to-access account of conspirators and secret organizations behind key plots to control American legal, political, and financial systems
  • Presents the history of key American conspiracy theories, taking a longer view of how current conspiracy thinking developed over generations
  • Explains the similarities and differences among conspiracy theories held by people on the far right and far left of the political spectrum
  • Explores the cultural significance of widespread, popular reactions to advances in science, technology, and medicine, as well as the public’s skepticism about highly trained professionals and their expert knowledge
  • Offers an up-to-date survey of popular conspiracy theories regarding celebrity deaths and the popular distrust of the American media and police investigations
  • Details the importance of the internet and social media in organizing conspiratorial movements and spreading conspiracy theories
Christopher R. Fee, PhD, is professor of English at Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, and author of Arthur: God and Hero in Avalon; The Goddess: Myths of the Great Mother; Mythology in the Middle Ages: Heroic Tales of Monsters, Magic, and Might; and Gods, Heroes, and Kings: The Battle for Mythic Britain. He is coeditor of ABC-CLIO’s American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore.

Jeffrey B. Webb, PhD, is professor of American history at Huntington University, Huntington, IN. His research in the field of early American history has appeared in numerous reference works and academic journals. He is coeditor of ABC-CLIO’s American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore.

Awards

2020 Outstanding Reference Source—Reference and User Services Association [RUSA], January 26, 2020

LJ Best Reference of 2019—Library Journal, March 1, 2020

Reviews

"This informative compilation on fascinating conspiratorial topics that will continue to be debated for decades will be a solid addition for all libraries."—Library Journal, September 1, 2019

"Recommended. All readership levels."—Choice, December 1, 2019
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