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Conspiracies of Conspiracies

How Delusions Have Overrun America

Thomas Milan Konda

Conspiracies of Conspiracies

Thomas Milan Konda

432 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2019
Cloth $30.00 ISBN: 9780226585765 Published March 2019
E-book $21.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226585932 Published March 2019
It’s tempting to think that we live in an unprecedentedly fertile age for conspiracy theories, with seemingly each churn of the news cycle bringing fresh manifestations of large-scale paranoia. But the sad fact is that these narratives of suspicion—and the delusional psychologies that fuel them—have been a constant presence in American life for nearly as long as there’s been an America.

In this sweeping book, Thomas Milan Konda traces the country’s obsession with conspiratorial thought from the early days of the republic to our own anxious moment. Conspiracies of Conspiracies details centuries of sinister speculations—from antisemitism and anti-Catholicism to UFOs and reptilian humanoids—and their often incendiary outcomes. Rather than simply rehashing the surface eccentricities of such theories, Konda draws from his unprecedented assemblage of conspiratorial writing to crack open the mindsets that lead people toward these self-sealing worlds of denial. What is distinctively American about these theories, he argues, is not simply our country’s homegrown obsession with them but their ongoing prevalence and virulence. Konda proves that conspiracy theories are no harmless sideshow. They are instead the dark and secret heart of American political history—one that is poisoning the bloodstream of an increasingly sick body politic.
Contents
Introduction: Conspiracy Theories and Conspiracism

1 The Invention of Conspiracy Theory: The French Revolution and the Bavarian Illuminati
2 Conspiracism Takes Shape in the United States
3 Preconditions for Modern Conspiracism: Jewish Assimilation, Premillennialism, and Aryan Occultism
4 The International Jewish Conspiracy and the Secret Government
5 The Emergence of the Hidden Hand
6 The Rise and Fall of the Hidden Hand
7 From Neo-Nazi to White Supremacist Conspiracism
8 The Emergence of the New World Order
9 The Conspiracy of Personal Destruction
10 The Planners Take Over
11 Pan-Ideological Conspiracy Theories: Denialism and Cover-Up
12 Conspiracism Proliferates: Some Anomalies
13 Christian Identity and the White Race
14 The Government Conspiracy against “Us”
15 Conspiracism Rebounds: Truthers, Birthers, and the New Militias
16 Conspiracism Enters the Mainstream
17 The Attack on Science
18 Democracy and Civil Society

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index
 
Review Quotes
Kirkus Reviews
“The theories Konda weighs and finds wanting are fascinating in their perversity, from chemtrails to climate change deniers. A book that deserves wide circulation and consideration.”
Michael Barkun | author of A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America
Conspiracies of Conspiracies is clearly written and deeply researched, a fine-grained account of American conspiracism from the earliest years of the Republic to the present day. There is scarcely a manifestation that Konda has omitted, and periods that others have merely sketched out are presented here in a detail that can be found in few other places. The times being what they are, the subject is (alas!) likely to remain of interest for many years to come."
Michael Butter | author of Plots, Designs, and Schemes: American Conspiracy Theories from the Puritans to the Present
“Bridging the divide between quantitative and qualitative approaches to the topic, Konda provides a comprehensive overview of the cultural and political work that conspiracy theories have done in the United States over the past two hundred years. He explains why these theories have recently made a comeback on the political stage and dissects a media landscape that increasingly tends to detect conspiracism everywhere.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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