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Comment: minor water damage , still a good readable copy. MInor stains to book edges Ex-library Hardcover with dustjacket . Moderate reader wear to cover and book edges . All the usual library stamps and stickers
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Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace Hardcover – April, 1998

2.6 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

Is paranoia the defining feature of American life at the close of the 20th century? Jodi Dean thinks so, and she doesn't think we should be too worried about it. Aliens in America is her attempt to map the role of conspiracy theories in society, and although the book sometimes has problems negotiating the fine line between academic and popular discourse, it provides some fascinating insights. Dean suggests that paranoia is the only possible response to a fragmented culture. Multiplying TV channels and the publishing free-for-all of the Internet provide so many points of view, so many opportunities for contradictory meanings to coexist that "there isn't enough common reality to justify judgement." In the face of this info-maelstrom, conspiracy theorists and alien abductees are actively creating their own meanings, piecing together an ideology from the mass of unverifiable "facts." For Dean, these creative acts are powerful, positive engagements with the world as it has become, contrasting sharply with the attitudes of those who are trying to hang on to a vanished consensus. By bringing the apparatus of cultural theory to bear on this subject, Dean gives a provocative new interpretation of our premillennium tension. --Simon Leake --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

If you believe what you read on the Internet, aliens surround us these days?and 65% of the respondents in one poll agreed that the government had hidden a crashed UFO since 1947. But political scientist Dean (The Solidarity of Strangers) is less interested in the credibility of such stories than in their embodiment of a contemporary political culture (networked, televisual, cyber-linked) in which the problem is "that if the knowledge we need to make a judgment stems from shared experiences, what do we do when experiences are reconstituted so radically that we can't tell if we, or anyone else, actually has them or not?" Do words like "truth" and "authority" mean anything when no one agrees how, much less whom, to believe? Writing spry, acerbic prose that only rarely stumbles into jargon, Dean guides her readers soberly through strange terrain in which rationality itself gets upended: in view of radiation experiments on developmentally disabled patients and the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, is it more sensible to credit a government in cahoots with alien beings, or not to? While the book grows somewhat repetitive toward its conclusion, Dean compellingly traces our national loss of faith in formerly attractive notions like outer space and the "Final Frontier." The author offers no answers, but no reader will leave this intriguing book without pondering the unavoidable question she raises: "What happens to our everyday approaches to truth when reality isn't?"
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell Univ Pr (April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801434637
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801434631
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,097,479 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Excellent! Possibly the only book on the subject to seriously examine what popular interest in this subject actually says about our world. This book is not about arcana; if you're looking for new tales of crashed saucers or big-eyed Pleadians, look elsewhere. Instead, the author sheds light on questions of evidence, real government conspiracies, "plausible denial", perceptions of reality, witness veracity, televisuality, UFOs, etc., and challenges the reader to define exactly what is the "consensus reality". The chapter on the role of women during the U.S. space program and the "citizen witness" is by itself worth the price of admission. The freshest look at this topic in years.
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By A Customer on November 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book analyses critically the implications of mediated America for democracy in America. Dean complements her earlier work on the theory of discursive democracy by starting with contemporary society, rather than theory, and then considering the theoretical implications for democracy in light of her survey of media culture. Dean finds that contemporary conditions of proliferating standards of value make it difficult to come to democratic agreement. Thus, while liberal and democratic thinkers value rational inquiry as the foundation for truth, Dean finds faith, force, and prejudice the predominant basis for accepting some claims rather than others under these current conditions. In light of some rather unfair and indeed highly ideological reviews of her work recently (the NY Rev of Books comes to mind), I am left wondering, upon completion of the book,whether such reviewers have sought to kill the messenger for daring to utter her (critical) message.
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Format: Paperback
As 1 of only 2 books on UFOs ever published by an academic press (the other being David Jacobs' UFO Controversy in America), this work brings the topic into the Ivy League: to the Cornell Univ. Press. Driven seekers of "THE UFO TRUTH" beware, this is not yet another book attempting to research and reveal the truth of UFOs, but a scholarly, critical analysis of the topic within the context of modern American sociology, psychology, political science and media (particularly Internet) studies. What most distinguishes it from other "cultural context" efforts is Ms. Dean's (QUITE solitary) respectful, non-dismissive treatment of her fellow citizen-observers, and the sharp comparision of the generally-private abduction experience to the televised theatrics of the space race. WHY she doesn't join the dismissive academic/media/"expert" mob is not revealed. Readers without personal exposure to the phenomena (who are ignorant of their ignorance) may simply join the mob by dismissing Ms. Dean analysis because it is devoid of judgementalism or the media's desperate search for the freakish at whom we can self-assuredly laugh.
The language is academic & the sentences long, but the complex concepts are expressed with clarity. The background UFO data is invisible (as other Amazon.com reviewers comment), but to readers fully educated in this topic, that would obviously multiply the book's size by a factor of 100 and repeat material available elsewhere. The last third of the book drags a bit and the illustrations are irrelevant and poorly chosen.
However, this has made my short list of "must read" UFO books, alongside those by Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs, Tim Good, Nick Pope, Stan Friedman, and the hilarious Out There by Pulitzer prize nominee and former NY Times reporter Howard Blum.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book profoundly irritating from beginning to end. Of course, there were a few insightful passages sprinkled throughout the text, but one would expect this coming from cornell uni press. The majority of Dean's book, however, is full of sweeping and completely meaningless generalisations. Dean seems to be far too aware of her audience, and her relationship with her audience, than with her own scholarly contribution. This, i find, ends up getting in the way of an appreciation of the text. She tries so hard not to sound like one of those 'elitist academics' who have no idea about contemporary culture, but only comes across as far too self-conscious, pretensious, and patronising. For example, consider this statement; "I would like to claim that the connection between space and technology is uniquely my own, but it isn't." Oh really Jodi, how gracious of you!! Or consider this one for an empty generalisation; "The launch of Windows 95 is a bigger event than Galileo's window to Jupiter." Well, i'm sure time will highlight the glaringly careless and attention-seeking nature of such a statement, which also points to the problem with so much of cultural studies today. That is the a-historical treatment of cultural products/texts as though they exist within a vacuum. Throughout the book, i get the feeling Dean doesn't really know what she wants to say, indeed, has nothing to say, but says it anyway. Thus, she covers up the lack of substance with an overreliance on style (but there is a great lack of this too), as she comes up with some of the most convoluted sentence construction i have ever set eyes upon.Read more ›
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