Kindle Price: $11.49

Save $4.50 (28%)

These promotions will be applied to this item:

Some promotions may be combined; others are not eligible to be combined with other offers. For details, please see the Terms & Conditions associated with these promotions.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory by [Walker, Jesse]
Kindle App Ad

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
$11.49

click to open popover

Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.


Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This is a remarkably comprehensive, wide-ranging look at the way American culture, politics, religion, and social structure have been affected by conspiracy stories. Here you’ll find tales of Mormon conspiracies, the Salem witch trials, the Illuminati, satanists, the 1980s rash of bogus claims of child molestation (especially the famous McMartin case), the Church of the SubGenius, and, oh, so many more. Author Walker’s intent is neither to ridicule nor debunk but simply to explore: How does an idea take hold, grow, permeate the culture? Sometimes it happens by accident: Illuminatus!, a satiric trilogy of novels published in the mid-1970s, led to a surge in interest in the (supposedly) real ­Illuminati—what was essentially a joke led to the spread of a very serious conspiracy theory. Sometimes, of course, an idea spreads because people want it to spread: John Todd, whose own story would make a fascinating book all by itself, spent his life aggressively promoting an elaborate conspiracy theory (which involved, among other elements, Ayn Rand and Charles Manson as puppets of the Illuminati). A lively, extremely interesting, and occasionally more than slightly scary book. --David Pitt

Review

“A superb analysis of American paranoia…terrific, measured, objective.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Prepare to be amazed.” (Jeet Heer, author of In Love with Art)

“Free-floating fear and half-baked ideas about what’s really going on have been a more significant part of American history than is generally accepted, according to Jesse Walker’s thorough, meticulously researched book.” (Vice)

“Oddly entertaining...Walker quickly demolishes [Richard Hofstadter’s “The Paranoid Style in American Politics]. It’s all too rare to come upon a writer willing to attack the sacred cows of the right and left with equal amounts of intelligence and flair.” (Los Angeles Times)

“First there was A People’s History of the United States. Now there’s a paranoid’s history, with Jesse Walker revealing that normal, sensible citizens have been conspiracy nuts ever since our nation’s beginning.” (Debbie Nathan, author of Sybil Exposed)

Product Details

  • File Size: 5131 KB
  • Print Length: 453 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (August 20, 2013)
  • Publication Date: August 20, 2013
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BATIIZY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #346,473 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images or tell us about a lower price?

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An extraordinarily readable, fun skip through the marvelous history of conspiracy and paranoia in American life, from Puritan times to the present. The chapters on some lesser known conspiracy freaks read like something out of an alternate universe, and your eyes will be opened to some very subtle judgments that you yourself may have been making. Colored a bit by the author's libertarian outlook, he is open with his biases and recognizes his own susceptibility to paranoia. As a fan of Robert Anton Wilson, it was nice to see the grand old Discordian get his due, but the whole book is a delight.
Comment 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
The book was well written, but more of an intellectual social commentary than I expected. There was no focus on the details of individual conspiracy theories - this is not the book for an in-depth appraisal of various conspiracy ideas. But as an introspective analysis of conspiracy theory and social paranoia as folklore, it is very interesting. The author also details how historical events like Watergate or the fall of the USSR shift the focus between the enemy outside to the enemy within, or vice versa. From Indians during colonial times through blacks and communists he discusses the various bogeymen our media have sometimes focused on throughout American history - and why, both from a historical and psychological perspective. Not at all what I expected, but still very good.
1 Comment 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book was not a comprehensive history and review of conspiracy in America. Obviously that is hard to do in just one book, but most of his chapters were wasted. It started off very interesting, discussing a lot of historical conspiracy theories starting from the dawn of the country. It gave the historical context concerning general paranoia about slavery and rebellions, Native Americans, various political conspiracies from the early presidents, etc.

However, a lot of the 20th century conspiracies had to do with movies and biographies of individuals. While movie production of various themes can indicate something about society in general, that's a pretty weak thesis. There was no link as to why these movies indicated something greater, but just talked about the movies as if they should stand alone as proof of country-wide paranoia. Also, it wasn't as if Walker used the movies with conspiracy themes as just one example of paranoia in the given era, but at parts, it seemed like entire chapters were just a movie reviews. Conspiracy movies are always popular, so I wasn't really sure how talking about dozens of individual movies had anything to do with the greater society that produced them.

Other parts of the book described the lives of cult leaders, the hypocrisy in their own teachings, and then strength of their movements. Cult leaders will always exist, and they will always have followings, some stronger than others. If cults in general were discussed as a sign of how a minority of people can be overcome with paranoia, then that'd be one thing. But the details of the lives of a few leaders who aren't very well known seems silly.
Read more ›
5 Comments 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Jesse Walker holds a curious mirror up to us in this complex and fascinating book about conspiracy theories that daily make the headlines in the media and indicate a sustainable past history of how Americans fear secret cabals. It is an interesting and entertaining investigation of the core of paranoid thinking that has its beginnings centuries ago and persists to the present.

As Walker dissects our history he explains how we Americans have heard so many stories describing Nazis, communists and homosexuals nefariously and secretly trying to take over our government, our minds and our bodies to the extent that we began to see them everywhere. `In an earlier era, we feared murderous slaves and libidinous Native American kidnappers. And more recently: UFOs and satanic nursery schools. This is a book about America's demons. Many of those demons are imaginary, but all of them have truths to tell us. A conspiracy story that catches on becomes a form of folklore. It says something true about the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe and repeat it ...'

`Americans fear mobs: They are the dark force lurking inside "Enemy Below" conspiracy theories, a "primal myths". Over time, blacks, immigrant laborers and Jewish radicals have all been the protagonists in imagined "Enemy Below" conspiracy theories. A mythical group of black intellectuals called "The Organization" was said to be behind the 1965 Watts riots.'

Walker is willing to attack the sacred cows of the right and left with equal amounts of intelligence and flair. He is a tireless and thorough researcher.
Read more ›
8 Comments 25 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This is an entertaining book combining history and popular culture. In Part One, the author describes 5 "primal myths": the enemy outside (Indians, Russians), the enemy within (witches, spies), the enemy above (Wall Street, the guv'mint), the enemy below (lumpen-proletariat), and benevolent conspiracies. Each chapter starts with an extended example of the type, and then expands from that to show how the type appears through American history and popular culture.

Part Two is less structured, though still fun to read. Revelations about real government break-ins and spying on demonstrators produced conspiracy theories about tracking implants and movies about government agencies run amok. Even before the Internet, conspiracy memes became co-mingled so that the Illuminati were part of a vast Satanic conspiracy that controlled U.S. currency (the eye-topped pyramid), wrote the Necronomicon (sorry, H.P. Lovecraft), stole children for ritual sacrifice and produced the Kennedy family's personal warlock. Such beliefs were easy to satirize, and sometimes the satires themselves were incorporated into one or another of the paranoid worldviews.

Belief in overarching conspiracies produces general distrust in institutions. Therefore, the book, while great fun to read, also makes the point that one needs to recognize one's own tendency to see hidden agendas and to look with a critical eye at such theories.

In sum, this is a good read that makes an important point. Recommended.
Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory