Coming Soon!
Conspiracy Theories
A Reference Handbook
by Jeffrey B. Webb
September 2023, 350pp, 6x9
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-7770-4
$65, £50, 57€, A90
Available for purchase 30 days prior to publication.
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-7771-1
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Most of UFO conspiracy theory tradition traces its roots to Donald Keyhoe, an ex-Marine aviator who wrote several widely read books in the 1950s claiming that strange “foo fighters” sighted by pilots all over the world were of extraterrestrial origin—and that the U.S. government was covering up knowledge of their existence.

Provides a comprehensive guide to the history and current shape of conspiracy theories in American life, including the findings of research seeking to understand their origins, type, function, and widespread appeal.

This all-in-one resource provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of conspiracy theories past and present, in all their many forms. Taking an evenhanded, scholarly approach, the book outlines the longer history of conspiracy theories, starting with Ancient Greece and Rome and continuing the story up to the present day, including analysis of 9/11, anti-vaccine, COVID, and QAnon theories. It surveys an array of current books and articles to try to understand why people believe in and act on outlandish and evidence-free conspiracy theories.

Notably, this resource also outlines the problems created by untrue conspiracy theories in terms of their negative impact on public debate, trust in others, and efforts to nurture an informed and educated citizenry. Instead, many conspiracy claims have become sources of misinformation, cynicism, and polarization. This book will benefit anyone who seeks a pathway through our current “epistemic crisis” in which the lines between fact and fiction—and between truth and falsehood—have become blurred.


  • Includes graphs, charts, and primary documents offering different contextual vantage points for understanding the origins, attraction, and impact of conspiracy theories
  • Offers a suite of insightful personal and scholarly perspectives on conspiracy theories
  • Profiles influential individuals and organizations known for developing and advancing—or debunking—widely known conspiracy theories
  • Identifies and explains key events, controversies, and other social and political contributors to conspiracy theories
Jeffrey B. Webb, PhD, is professor of history at Huntington University in Huntington, IN. He is co-editor of ABC-CLIO's Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories in American History, which was named to the 2020 Outstanding References Sources List by the American Library Association's Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), as well as to Library Journal's Best Reference Books of the Year List in 2020. He is also co-editor of ABC-CLIO's American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore.

Contemporary World Issues

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

24-hour cable news. Millions of internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about.


Subject coverage spans six main categories:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Environment
  • Gender and Ethnicity
  • Politics, Law, and Government
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine
  • Society
Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that support statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
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