Real Enemies

Real Enemies

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

Book - 2009
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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--or 3,000 civilians in New York. In their zeal to cover up their crimes, theykilled witnesses, faked evidence, and stole into secure offices to snatch incriminating documents from the files. Although the paranoid style has been a feature of the American scene since the birth of the Republic, in Real Enemies, Kathryn Olmsted shows that it is only in the twentieth century that strange and unlikely conspiracy theories have become central to American politics. While Americans hadworried about bankers, Jews, and Catholics for decades, Olmsted sees World War I as a critical turning point for conspiracy theories. As the federal government expanded, Americans grew more fearful of the government itself--the military, the intelligence community, and even the President. Perhaps more important, Olmsted examines why so many Americans believe that their government conspires against them, why more people believe these theories over time, and how real conspiracies by government officials--such as the infamous Northwoods plan--have fueled our paranoia about thegovernment. She analyzes Pearl Harbor, Cold War and anticommunist plots, the JFK assassination, Watergate, and 9/11. Along the way, she introduces readers to a lively cast of characters, from the Nobel prize-winning scientist who became a leading conspiracist to a housewife who believed she couldunlock the secrets of the JFK assassination. Polls show that thirty-six percent of Americans think that George W. Bush knew in advance of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Real Enemies, an engaging work on a timely, important topic, sheds light on such theories, revealing how the rampant fear of conspiracy at once invigorates and underminesAmerican democracy.
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 2009
ISBN: 9780195183535
0195183533
Branch Call Number: 973.9 Olmsted
973.9 Olmsted
973.9 O51
Characteristics: x, 320 p. ; 24 cm

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Kevin1960
Jul 28, 2014

Olmsted takes on a very charged topic with the very laudable goal of mapping where political conspiracy theories have come from in the US and how they've become a part of our national discourse and culture.

Rather than argue whether various conspiracy theories have real merit, she focuses instead on how secrecy within the federal government has fostered and, in some egregious cases, initiated, these theories.

Along the way the author exposes several actual government sponsored conspiracies and/or cover-ups that have done much to provide fodder for the conspiracy theory mill in the last century of American life.

I found the book to be refreshingly unbiased and clearly focused. Olmsted provides an important contribution to the argument for open government and transparency in the public sector.

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StarGladiator
Feb 09, 2013

Extremely negative rating - - author, if that is what she actually is? - - uses supposition and opinion to substitute for fact - - whereas the outstanding book on order, Lance deHaven-Smith's "Conspiracy Theory in Ameerica" solely relies on actual FACT . . . go figure? Olmstead could have mentioned thousands of facts, beginning with the backgrounds of the authors of that most atrocious 26-volumes of garbage, the Warren Commission Report - - had Olmsted ACTUALLY READ that report, there would be no doubt in her limited mind, nor anyone else who bothered to read it - - with its thousands of inconsistencies, not-followed-up obvious questions, variances, and so on (Oswald's "official military record" places him at Keesler AFB, receiving training in ATC [Mental Category 3 in the military] as opposed to the Report mentioning his military training at Monterey, which any vet realizes means he attended the Defense Language Instutite (Oswald studied Russian there - in the military I met a fellow student) -- why the assistant prosecutor never follows up with the obvious question, when the mayor of Dallas, Earl Cabell (responsible for a last-minute change in President Kennedy's motorcade route, and the brother of Gen. Cabell, one of the top three CIA types fired by JFK, another being Dulles, one of the two authors of the Warren Commission Report) responds that he's known Jack Ruby for years! Amazing! ? ! ? ! Add another thousand inconsistencies, and the fact that the other major author of the Report, McCloy, while head of the World Bank, denied Guatemala any loans, as that country was inacting land reform and a high minimum wage for its farmers - - - beginning to see a pattern emerging? Lest anyone forget, and be too lazy to examine public domain sources, the Pentagon's comptroller announced his auditing team discovered the unaccounted for sum of $2.3 trillion missing on 9/10/01, and on 9/11/01 an airliner took out most of that auditing team! So what ever did become of that unaccounted for and missing $2.3 trillion?

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