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The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories 1 (Rough Guide Reference) Paperback – October 17, 2005
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. . . a succinct compilation of all the best in lunatic, eccentric and sometimes worryingly plausible schemes. -- What’s On in London, 5 Oct 2005
...pick up a box-set of X-Files and spit at official government explanations...that's no bad thing in a democracy. -- Sunday Sport, 16 Oct 2005
A readable, informative, level headed look at over 80 of the best known and researched conspiracies -- Lobster Magazine, December 2005
A snappy, thought-provoking book -- Nottingham Evening Post, 15 Oct 2005
About the Author
James McConnachie spent three years as a researcher for the historian Theodore Zelden, and recently contributed to the best-selling Rough Guide to the Da Vinci Code. Robin Tudge is a freelance writer and guidebook author.
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The chapter "Italy: Land of Conspiracy" is a good example: "Everything is political in Italy, and everything is a conspiracy - history included. The country is divided between Left and Right in a way that makes the American divide between pro- and anti-Bush camps look shallow and inconsequential..." You'll learn about Gladio and the Strategy of Tension, the Ordine Nuovo, the murder of Aldo Moro, the Vatican Bank, the P2 lodge, and Licio Gellio.
If it doesn't fill you with despair about the world then nothing will.
There are dozens of theories (including various sub-variations) covered herein, categorized as: Assassinations and Downfalls; Mega-conspiracies and Master Plans; Miracles, Secrets and Lies: Conspiracies of Religion; The Land of the Free; Corporate Clampdown; Real Weapons of Mass Destruction; Calamities and Cover-ups; Warplay, etc. Each subtopic is followed by a list of Sources (including books, and websites), which are briefly and very helpfully summarized. (There are seldom any footnotes/sources noted within the articles themselves, but I'll let that one go.)
To give some examples, "In 1924, the publication of Nesta H. Webster's Secret Societies and Subversive Movements catapulted the myth of the Illuminati out of the eighteenth century and right into the twenty-first." (Pg. 86) The author rejects a Masonic interpretation of our money, observing that "IN GOD WE TRUST" is written on our money, while the Masons were/are "conspiring to build an atheistic, self-interested state." (Pg. 117) He notes that the FEMA camps feared by conspiracists "were built under the Rex 84 program, designed to deal with a mass exodus of illegal aliens." (Pg. 285)
9/11 of course receives a detailed treatment; the author notes that, contrary to the popular story of books and movies, Flight 93 "destroyed the plane themselves," rather than being crashed by the passengers. (Pg. 364) "The biggest problem with all 9/11 conspiracy theories that pin the ultimate blame on the Bush administration rather than Al-Qaeda is that they never explain ... why, if the administration was capable of faking or setting up a massive terrorist attack on New York, couldn't it make a few FBI intelligence reports from the summer of 2001 disappear?... why couldn't it simply have planted a few WMD in the Iraqi desert?" (Pg. 369)
The Iraq War is also a fertile topic: "The US knew... that Saddam had (or had had) biological warfare capability because they---along with France, Germany, Japan and the UK---had supplied him with it." (Pg. 373) "All of Saddam's stockpiles had been destroyed in 1991, and his facilities and programmes dismantled by 1996---which is what UN weapons inspectors could have confirmed if they'd been allowed to carry on doing their job." (Pg. 379)
This book is a very helpful compendium of conspiracy theories, followed (generally) by a critical analysis of it.
I love the conservatives who continually paint people like me with the dreaded brush of "left-wing conspiracy nut" whenever writers believe that there is more to the story than that which is printed in the headlines of virtually any American newspaper or is heard on Fox News.
By using that kind of language the ideas or theories of the writer are totally blanketed with this comical rubric and no further serious notice need be taken of such laughable ideas. Hence no more investigation that could concievably uncover something that might lead to uncomfortable questions being asked.
This Rough Guide is truly encompassing both historically and comtemporarily; it discusses in enough depth so many of the loose ends in history to, I believe, satisfy all but the scholars of a particular area. This is not to say that the book positively accepts conspiracy theories as a group, rather, the authors look dispassionately at the arguments from most angles and leave the reader to decide for themselves.
In my opinion, the authors placed all the material facts before the reader and gave the reader, therefore, all the necessary factual material with which to make an educated decision about the particular event of group under consideration.