28 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Overstretched and merely adequate,
This review is from: A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society) (Paperback)I had expected this book to be a general review of developments in contemporary American conspiracy theory, a sort of summary of the ever-evolving worlds of the true American religion. While Barkun offers a relatively competent effort in that respect, his true interest in this book is to link the emergent threads of conspiracy theory to pre-existing political sources, particularly right-wing sources that fall within his pet interest, millenial right-wing religious groups in the United States. While there are plainly some quite interesting connections between the two social phenomena, Barkun goes much too far too force his thesis; he ironically begins to tred a path down his own conspiracy theory, attempting to convict myriad persons of holding hard-core anti-Semitic/racist views, even while admitting that the external evidence is absent, ambiguous, or tangential. We are treated to speculations, "connections," historical contamination, and the same type of silly theorizing that his own subjects so routinely engage in. The whole enterprise is then overlaid with a rather sickly and pallid academic liberal bent ... forced is the word.
Overall, a mediocre effort by a mediocre scholar, but still worth reading for those intrigued by the field, particularly insofar as Barkun truly does have an extensive grasp of the relevant background materials.
PS -- I hope that the reviews of this book posted by conspiracy theorists entertain others as much as they entertain me. Anyone interested in conspiracy theory has to possess a considerable sense of humor.
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Initial post: Apr 20, 2012 6:47:50 AM PDT
I found "Culture of Conspiracy" interesting but flawed for similar reasons. My main problem with the UFOlogy sections is the assumption that all people who believe in UFOs simultaneously accept the belief in alien abductions. That is certainly not true even today.
Posted on Jun 1, 2012 3:29:53 PM PDT
John Wade says:
Thanks for the review Ulrich. On a related note, have you heard of Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred by Jeffrey Kripal? I would be interested in your thoughts on that book and author.
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