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UFOs, JFK, and Elvis: Conspiracies You Don't Have to Be Crazy to Believe Paperback – May 2, 2000

4.1 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Best known as Detective John Munch on the hit TV series Homicide, Richard Belzer is also an accomplished standup comedian with a knack for political commentary in the tradition of Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory. In UFOs, JFK, and Elvis, he applies his analytic powers to two of the most controversial topics of the late 20th century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 and the alleged U.S. government cover-up of the existence of alien life. (The reference in the title is the book's only substantial Elvis sighting.)

Belzer sensibly avoids pretending to have the answers, opting instead to focus on the questions themselves. Why does the Zapruder film fail to synchronize with other footage of the Kennedy shooting? What's the real background on Lee Harvey Oswald--and who really posed for that famous backyard photo? Did NASA regularly suppress UFO sightings by Apollo and Gemini astronauts? And how about that giant face on the surface of Mars? While Belzer's sarcastic, antiauthoritarian tone may not convince you that aliens walk among us, it's rather difficult by book's end to fully dismiss his belief that "history is just a collection of accepted lies" told to keep the masses in line. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

First Mort Sahl, now Richard Belzer. Every now and then a political comedian finds himself obsessed with the murder of John F. KennedyAand sacrifices the funny in the process. Though this book is categorized as humor, it offers sarcasm but few laughs. And why should it? Belzer, now best known as Detective Munch on TV's Homicide, is serious here. Obsessed with conspiracies, he apparently read a bunch of books (many from fringe publishers) on the subject and decided to share the fruit of his musings. Most concern the assassination, and, indeed, many aspects remain in dispute. But when he declares Gerald Posner's Case Closed "a grossly overstuffed suitcase," Belzer doesn't inspire confidence, and he doesn't offer footnotes so readers can check his sources. The second half of the book relies significantly on conspiracy expert Jim Marrs, author of Alien Agenda. Belzer relates that many people who've consented to alien experimentation have told Marrs they don't consider it a violation. No wonder Belzer says, "I believe that historyApast and currentAis just a collection of accepted lies." He wrote this book, he claims, to inspire us to question authority. Mr. Belzer, tell jokes. Author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; New edition edition (May 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345429184
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345429186
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #898,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio Cassette
I have to admit that I wasn't expecting much from this book when I bought it. I thought it would just provide a pleasant diversion during a long drive. (And, yes, I'm talking about the audiobook version. Reading while driving is just plain wrong, kids.) I didn't think a comedian/actor would have a proper understanding of the topics presented. Of course, I also never used to question such supposedly august institutions as the U.S. Department of Justice or The New York Times. It was a silly prejudice; Belzer is very knowledgeable. The references peppered throughout convinced me of this. The Belz provides an overview of various conspiracies that has surprising depth. In addition, the writing is very concise and powerful. I didn't find a dull moment in the entire book. And, even though the book would stand well on the organization of information and the excellent writing, the humor really helps put it above the standard conspiracy primer. It's not too over-the-top and not too desperately cynical. (The conspiracy rap at the end is a true masterpiece.) Get it and let the information work its way, unsettlingly, into your storehouse of popular delusions. Or scoff and go back to sleep like the rest of the sheep...but don't forget to keep laughing.
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Format: Paperback
When I first saw this title I thought that Richard Belzer had written a funny book filled with witty musings about little green men and movies in which Kevin Costner has a bad haircut." Belzer has made a turn toward the dramatic with his portrayal of detective John Munch in "Homicide" and "Law & Order SVU", a role he has had since 1993. However, this is still the same guy that was in the 1988 classic "The Wrong Guys". I was in no way prepared for what I was about to read.

Within the first few pages I was reading details about claims of heinous atrocities and government conspiracies. This was not the lighthearted work that I expected. From the very beginning, Belzer makes his goal clear. He urges the reader to "seek out suppressed evidence ... interpret independently everything you hear, read, and even what you see ... question authority."

Even if you are not a conspiracy theory enthusiast, it is hard not to get caught up in the unexpected depth of Belzer's research and his insights on the JFK assassination and alien visitors. I wasn't exactly "transformed from a cheerful trusting soul with unflagging faith in the powers that be into a suspicious, angry skeptic and cynic that can't sit through a 30-second news teaser," as Belzer promised, but reading the book has made me think and look at the situations in question in a new light.

For those who are not big on conspiracy, the information is presented in a way that would make even Lee Harvey Oswald chuckle. The book is both informative and entertaining, with sections with names such as "The Fluke of Earl" and "Just a Simple Nightclub Owner with a Dream". This book had me laughing one moment and somewhat scared the next. If you are not familiar with Belzer's comedy routine or acting, you might not appreciate this book as much as if you were. It makes it easier to tell when Belzer is joking around and when he is serious.
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By A Customer on December 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I love this book! It's a wonderful way to make your senses just a little more paranoied. Through this book, Belzer remains funny. Which is what I like about Richard. This book is involved, and some may find it weird or inappropriate, if you can't deal with something that might take away some light form your happy-go-lucky world, don't read it. If you're going to read it, and you find it offensive, it's your own fault, you should know better than to read something that looks like you might be a little shaken by. If you're going to read it, read it because you have some interest in what Belzer is saying, or Belzer himself. I read it becasue I am a fan of his, and wanted to see what he was getting paid to ramble about, and I am very glad I did. It's an informative and really funny book, so if you're not the most content person with the government, this book would probably be a good one for you.
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Format: Paperback
Can a mere mortal be a hilarious stand-up comedian, a marvelous actor in drama, AND a magnificent writer? In Richard Belzer's case, the answer is yes...AND he is married to a beautiful wife...AND he lives in France.
Can a book be, at the very same time, a serious discourse on conspiracies AND be hysterically funny? This book of Richard Belzer's can.
What a talent! I hope you don't think I'm being facetious. Believe me, I'm not. At the same time Belzer got me really thinking about his conspiracy thinking (and I am a conspiracy theory novice, so this is all new to me), he also had me literally laughing out loud. I call this remarkable.
99.9% of the books I purchase, I buy at Amazon. But I found this one in the "HUMOR" section of our local independent bookseller. I'd been reading such heavy-duty literature and non-fiction for so long, I thought I could use some humor...and I was NOT disappointed in that regard in Belzer's book.
But what blew me away (I seem to be, in this review, totally talking in the hippie vernacular, so please, bear with me) is that along with laughing out loud, I found myself immersed in a beautifully and accessibly written treatise on conspiracies. I learned so much! I went running, upon being done to the book, to my computer to look things he'd recommended up.
What a book! WHAT A CONCEPT! This guy is brilliant! I recommend it for humor, I recommend it for an introduction to conspiracy theory, and I recommend it for some truly excellent writing.
Get this book, please! You'll thank me for it.
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