Top positive review
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What the book is, and what it is not
on June 24, 2010
After reading several of the negative reviews, I thought a more pointed one was needed in response to clear a few things up for those who have not read the book.
First off, the book is very well written and in a fast-paced, easy to read styles. It's not boring (regardless of agreeing with the author or not), nor is it overly long.
That being said, it brings me to my main point: this is not a scholarly, historically exhaustive work of research; it is an investigative look into how conspiracies begin and the people who latch on to them. Does that mean that it's not researched? No, there is a fairly extensive bibliography, and he has clearly documented his sources. However, it is not done in the way a historical textbook would do so -- but there again, it's not written from that point of view.
The key to remember here -- and this is for those negative reviewers who so adamantly want to hold on to their theories -- is the theme of how these theories get started, and why they become popular. This is of special interest to me because it is clear that there has to be a motivation for believing in most conspiracy theories; one has to *want* them to be true at some level for them to get off the ground, otherwise they wouldn't due to the incredible lack of factual support.
But here we come to the famous rebuttal offered up (which I have seen in the reviews here): "We are just asking questions. That's why it's a 'theory' and it's not perfect. But you have to admit that ____ and ____ don't add up!" This statement -- or a similar form -- is offered up every time a conspiracy theorist is confronted with hard facts. And this book addresses that exact issue, rather than going down the road of saying "here's this reference, and this one, and this one, and this one..." The fact is, any story in history, if viewed long enough and from enough angles (if I stand on my head and close one eye) can be a questionable occurence that looks "suspicious." I think if one investigated hard enough, they could probably find evidence suggesting that the NFL is fixed, politicians are really aliens, the military is spying on cats, that Jews are actually Chinese and that your own Mom is not who she says she is.
For those of us who have actually held a security clearance and worked in government, however, this book is quite refreshing and right on the money -- as much as we would like everyone to believe that we can pull off some grand conspiracy and keep huge secrets, we're just not that capable. Really, I wish it were different.
And to answer the question of why I gave it four stars instead of five, well...it's not that it wasn't good, I just save the five-star rating for something that really sets my hair on fire. If I throw those things out with every book I like, it hurts the credibility of the rating system. That's how I roll.