Conspiracy Rising
Conspiracy Thinking and American Public Life
by Martha F. Lee
June 2011, 168pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-35013-9
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-0-313-35014-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

A 2006 Scripps Howard poll found that 36 percent of Americans believed that the American government either participated in the September 11th, 2001, attacks or knew about them and did nothing to stop them. But this is far from the only event in U.S. history where a resolute portion of the population sees the dark hand of conspiracy manipulating historical events.

This book offers a thoughtful analysis of how and why conspiracy thinking has become a popular mode of political discourse in the United States.

How did conspiracy thinking become such a significant and surprisingly widely accepted form of political thinking in the United States? What compels people to respond to devastating, unpredictable events—terrorist acts, wars, natural disasters, economic upheavals—with the conviction that nothing is a coincidence, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected?

Conspiracy Rising: Conspiracy Thinking and American Public Life argues that while outlandish paranoid theories themselves may seem nonsensical, the thread of conspiracy thinking throughout American history is a both a byproduct of our democratic form of government and a very real threat to it. From the Illuminati, the Knights Templar, and the Freemasons to the government hiding aliens and faking the moon landing; from the New World Order to the Obama “Birthers,” the book explores the enduring popularity of a number of American conspiracy theories, showing how the conspiracy hysteria that may provoke disdain and apathy in the general public, can become a source of dangerous extremism.

Martha F. Lee is professor of political science at the University of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Her research specialization is millenarianism, and her previous works focus on the links between religious and political beliefs. They include The Nation of Islam: An American Millenarian Movement and Earth First! Environmental Apocalypse. She is also the editor of Millennial Visions: Essays on Twentieth-Century Millenarianism, published by Praeger in 2000.
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