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Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History | [David Aaronovitch]

Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History

Our age is obsessed by the idea of conspiracy. We see it everywhere---from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from the assassination of Kennedy to the death of Diana. In this age of terrorism we live in, the role of conspiracy is a serious one---one that can fuel radical or fringe elements to violence. For award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch, there came a time when he started to see a pattern among these inflammatory theories.
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Publisher's Summary

Our age is obsessed by the idea of conspiracy. We see it everywhere---from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, from the assassination of Kennedy to the death of Diana. In this age of terrorism we live in, the role of conspiracy is a serious one---one that can fuel radical or fringe elements to violence. For award-winning journalist David Aaronovitch, there came a time when he started to see a pattern among these inflammatory theories.

He found that these theories used similarly murky methods with which to insinuate their claims: they linked themselves to the supposed conspiracies of the past ("it happened then so it can happen now"); they carefully manipulated their evidence to hide its holes; and they relied on the authority of dubious academic sources. Most important, they elevated their believers to membership of an elite---a group of people able to see beyond lies to a higher reality. But why believe something that entails stretching the bounds of probability so far? Surely it is more likely that men did actually land on the moon in 1969 than that thousands of people were enlisted to fabricate an elaborate hoax.

In this entertaining and enlightening book---aimed at providing ammunition for those who have found themselves at the wrong end of a conversation about moon landings or the twin towers---Aaronovitch carefully probes and explodes a dozen of the major conspiracy theories. In doing so, he examines why people believe them and makes an argument for a true skepticism---one based on a thorough knowledge of history and a strong dose of common sense.

©2009 David Aaronovitch (P)2010 Tantor

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  •  
    WriterGirl Washington, D.C. 04-05-10
    WriterGirl Washington, D.C. 04-05-10 Member Since 2003

    WriterGirl

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    "Another debunker of conspiracy theories"

    If you enjoy the fun of following a good conspiracy theory, this book is not for you. This book debunks famous and not so famous theories and sometimes the author explains why we would rather believe them than the truth. If I had the paper copy, then I could see the author's research. Some theories probably deserve debunking, but others are set firmly in their believers's imagination. The theories that received the most attention are the ones that seem to have made a fortune for their authors. Despite possible sour grapes, the book is entertaining. The reader's voice has a nice natural lilt and I wish he wouldn't try other accents. Overall, the book has not shaken my faith in my own beliefs. His application of humor keeps me from being insulted personally.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Holly Toronto, Ontario, Canada 07-16-13
    Holly Toronto, Ontario, Canada 07-16-13 Member Since 2004

    corona___borealis

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    "Dreadful fake accents"

    I hardly know what to say about the book itself - I couldn't get past the awful fake accents the reader used. I truely LOATHED them!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    preston farmington, NM, United States 04-28-13
    preston farmington, NM, United States 04-28-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Disappointing"

    The first negative thing about this audiobook is obvious immediately. The narrator feels the need to mimic foreign accents. His is a mild, pleasant British accent. But when quoting Germans, French, Americans, etc. he tries to use the corresponding accent, which is distracting. (And when I, an American, here British people trying an American accent, it's laughable). Anyway, having different voices/accents is helpful for fiction, but for nonfiction the narrator would be better just reading in his own voice.

    My main disappointment was that the material just wasn't that interesting, I'm sad to say. Some of the conspiracies were more interesting than others. Perhaps an abridged reading would have held my interest longer.

    This book might be better to read than to listen to. Reading would avoid the distracting foreign accents, plus a reader can skim and scan when there's more detail than holds the interest.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Walter Wheaton, IL, United States 10-24-11
    Walter Wheaton, IL, United States 10-24-11 Member Since 2005

    Conservative Catholic Curmudgeon

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    "Conspiracy Debunking"

    Incisive conspiracy theory debunking from a left-wing perspective. Some of the content is targeted more toward the British public than the American public. The author tries a little too hard to make victims out of the Clintons.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Somerville, MA, United States 03-29-12
    Douglas Somerville, MA, United States 03-29-12 Member Since 2007
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    "Great Topic"
    If you could sum up Voodoo Histories in three words, what would they be?

    I'm glad to see that someone is calling out the cacophony of conspiracies that have been swirling around in the past twenty years for what they are, nonsense. I will say though that while I love listening to British narrators, I can't stand listening to them do American accents. It's disconcerting. Unless you are a talent voice ACTOR, please don't resort to accents to distinguish quoted passages.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcy port orchard , WA, USA 06-23-10
    Marcy port orchard , WA, USA 06-23-10
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    "Disinfo 101"

    Voodoo histories is fascinating example of omission, half truths and how one can bury the truth by ignoring indisputable facts and attacking straw men that are irrelevant to the actual events.

    Conspiracy Theorist is a newspeak term. Wave a wand and dub someone a "Conspiracy Theorist" and poof. You've launched an Orwellian, ad-homenim, word spell. The "Conspiracy Theorist" is guilty of blasphemous crimethink. Empirical evidence etc. etc. that's unimportant these days.There will be no debate of arcane and unimportant facts, facts are secondary to protecting the morality of thought. We must never think the unthinkable.

    When the US government kills it's people, it's leaders etc. We have a conspiracy. It is the unthinkable. When the government kills brown skinned foreigners, this is not a conspiracy. This is history. The CIA reeks murder through a conspiracy of covert ops toppling governments for "national interest." No one disputes this. Conspiracy theory's really only apply, when the puppet masters smell a threat of an internal resistance by the awaking of dangerous knowledge.So their shills from the media thoughtpolice pick up their banjos and sing songs of warning to the ignorant. The song is a propaganda hit piece that labels the truth seekers as unpatriotic lunatics. Thus they protect the media groupthink and the public from subversive ideas.


    Aaronovitch is just such a banjo player and this book is his nonsensical ballad of lies. He is one of Rupert Murdochs paid conservative shills and the book is like any Fox News production. You would be advised to get the review of this book from the Black Op Radio podcast archives. Please don't waste your money on this pitiful collection of lies, unless you are a researcher who is studying Orwellian techniques on truth obfuscation.

    13 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John apple valley, MN, USA 05-23-10
    John apple valley, MN, USA 05-23-10
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    "surface research only"

    While this author tries to debunk the conspiracies, he just doesn't go deep enough into the history of things to give an accurate account of what was truly happening. He is correct, in that, conspiracies are used for political and personal gain. However, his historical diggings, primarily, in the US is factually skewed (the European conspiracies were much better). The premise is correct, but the fact finding is lazy. There would be no way to convince anyone who knows anything about history.
    I was very disappointed in this book.

    7 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Douglas Atlanta, GA, United States 01-29-14
    Douglas Atlanta, GA, United States 01-29-14 Member Since 2011

    I like to read but listening is better.

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    "Blunt, Humorous, and Thorough Debunking of Myths"
    What did you love best about Voodoo Histories?

    I enjoyed the author's use of sarcasm and humor in telling the stories. This book is about the people that believe in conspiracies as much as it is about the actual conspiracies. Aaronovitch's derisive comments about those individuals were often quite funny and always well deserved.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author's style of presenting the conspiracies was excellent. Aaronovitch would begin each example by telling the original story the way that the public would have experienced it. He would then detail the conspiracy theory or theories that arose following the incident. And then he would give us all of the details and evidence that disproves the conspiracy theories. This actually added an element of suspense to the book.


    Have you listened to any of James Langton’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This was the first time I had listened to James Langton but I enjoyed it. I usually enjoy a narrator with a British accent, and in this case it fit perfectly. The story often contained a sarcastic tone and Langton's style and voice really conveyed that well.


    If you could give Voodoo Histories a new subtitle, what would it be?

    I think the subtitle is okay. I'm not sure I can think of a better one at this point.


    Any additional comments?

    The only problem I had was with conspiracy theories and theorists, not the author's story or the narrator's performance. I just found myself feeling frustrated at times while listening to the book, realizing that the conspiracy theorists will never accept the truth, no matter how many books like this are written. Not only would the world be a better place without people spreading absurd conspiracy theories, it's also very annoying to see a dogmatic individual have their argument completely obliterated but still refuse to admit defeat.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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