Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11

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Oxford University Press, Jan 2, 2009 - History - 336 pages
Many Americans believe that their own government is guilty of shocking crimes. Government agents shot the president. They faked the moon landing. They stood by and allowed the murders of 2,400 servicemen in Hawaii. Although paranoia has been a feature of the American scene since the birth of the Republic, in Real Enemies Kathryn Olmsted shows that it was only in the twentieth century that strange and unlikely conspiracy theories became central to American politics. In particular, she posits World War I as a critical turning point and shows that as the federal bureaucracy expanded, Americans grew more fearful of the government itself--the military, the intelligence community, and even the President. Analyzing the wide-spread suspicions surrounding such events as Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, Watergate, and 9/11, Olmsted sheds light on why so many Americans believe that their government conspires against them, why more people believe these theories over time, and how real conspiracies--such as the infamous Northwoods plan--have fueled our paranoia about the governments we ourselves elect.

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REAL ENEMIES: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11

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The American Century's hidden narrative."The institutionalized secrecy of the modern U.S. government inspired a new type of conspiracy theories [which] proposed that the federal government itself was ... Read full review

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User Review  - madcatnip72 - LibraryThing

Conspiracy theory is an easy way to tell complicated stories, Kathryn Olmsted reminds us in "Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11." Her book is a scholarly if ... Read full review


Presidential Secrecy and the First World War
2 Lying Us into War? The Second Battle of Pearl Harbor
Red Spies and Red Hunters in the McCarthy Era
The JFK Assassination and the Collapse of Trust in the 1960s
Nixon Watergate and the Secret Government
Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories from the 1970s to the 1990s
911 and the Culture of Deceit

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About the author (2009)

Kathryn S. Olmsted is a professor of history at the University of California, Davis. She has written two previous books on secrecy in the U.S. government.

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