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A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society) Paperback – August 15, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0520276826 ISBN-10: 0520276825 Edition: Second Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Comparative Studies in Religion and Society (Book 15)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Second Edition edition (August 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520276825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520276826
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #683,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Praise for the First Edition:

"Tracing the beliefs in various conspiracies and mega-conspiracies in literature, apocalyptic and political writing, and popular culture, Barkun creates an exceptional and invaluable genealogy of the extraordinary permutations that these ideas have undergone since WWII and, of course, as a result of the Internet. Barkun dives into the religious and political matrix of what some call the "lunatic fringe," forcing us to look at the revival and spread of conspiracist thinking on an even grander scale into broad reaches of American culture. For those who think conspiracy thinking is a fading phenomenon, or a cultural phenomenon of little significance or creativity, think again. Welcome to the third millennium."—Richard Landes, Director, Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University; editor of The Encyclopedia of Millennial Movements and author of Relics, Apocalypse, and the Deceits of History

"Millennial dreams, apocalyptic nightmares populated by agents of the Antichrist, space aliens, and acolytes of the New World Order-With a calm approach and scrupulous academic bearings, Barkun navigates through the reefs of conspiracist allegation from the cosmic to the comic, from Biblical prophecy to Internet alerts."—Chip Berlet, co-author of Right-Wing Populism in America

"This is a gripping, and at times scary, book. Michael Barkun, one of our most respected political scientists, has produced a meticulously researched and highly perceptive account of those who find credible an incredible assortment of nefarious conspiracies emanating not only from the Jews, Masons, Catholics and politicians in our midst, but also from ' out there.’ This book should be read by everyone who believes that there are some ways of checking the differences between truths and fantasies - and by everyone who doesn' t."—Eileen Barker, Professor of Sociology, the London School of Economics

About the Author

Michael Barkun, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the Maxwell School, Syracuse University, is author of Religion and the Racist Right: The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement (revised edition 1997) and Disaster and the Millennium (1986), among other books.

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Format: Paperback
Michael Barkun is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Syracuse University who specialises in the social history of fringe belief systems outside the mainstream. His previously published works include `Disaster and the Millennium' (1986) and `Religion and the Racist Right' (1997).

This 2013 edition of `A Culture of Conspiracy' updates and expands Barkun's 2003 book of the same title by including new chapters on the fabrication of multiple conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks, the wide range of conspiracy theories about Barack Obama (that he wasn't born in Hawaii, is a Moslem or `The Antichrist' prophesised in Revelations), the propensity for conspiracy theorists linked to armed militias on the extreme right of US politics to engage in violence, and an analysis of the various apocalyptic predictions about 2012.

Barkun explores the process whereby `New World Order' ideas originally promoted by a tiny number of right-wing Christian fundamentalist extremists like Pat Robertson in the pre-internet age fused in the 1980s first with the more scientifically respectable study of the UFO phenomenon, and later with other new-agey beliefs usually categorized as `stigmatized knowledge'.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful By E. N. Anderson VINE VOICE on October 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm sure that the various conspiracy theorists will all jump on this book and pan it, so let me counter them in advance by posting a good review. I read and loved the first edition. This new edition has various new subjects of conspiracy theorizing, such as President Obama, the alleged Maya prophecies for 2012, and the increasing number of conspiracy theories about 9-11. Suffice it to say that this book is your guide to the idea that giant reptiles under the earth secretly control the world through the Trilateral Commission, the Masons, and the Illuminati. The book is scholarly and well researched, which means it is not as exciting as the literature it analyzes (but, judging from the quotes, Barkun's book is in much better English--conspiracy theorists do not seem very literate).
We are living in a surrealistic age when everything is a "matter of opinion." The conspiracy theorists are no more far-out than the postmodernists who held in the 1990s that science was merely a set of white male hegemonic claims. That fad seems to have died, but it produced a widespread discrediting of science, seen e.g. in the truly horrible and terrifying anti-"shots" movement, as well as in denial of global warming, and in resurgent racism. I recently wrote a distinguished academic about some racist claims made by someone under his direction (at the time). The claims were factually wrong, disproved years ago, but the answer I got was that this was a matter of "opinion" and not to be censored. Similarly, in spite of the fact that global warming has been settled science for years, USA TODAY recently "balanced" an article about it with a denialist counter-article. People seem to have genuinely forgotten that there is a difference between an actual personal judgment and a proven fact.
Maybe this anti-fact agenda is yet another sneaky trick of those reptiles from outer space....
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A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society)
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