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Republic of Lies

American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power
Length: 10 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (21 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This program includes an introduction read by the author.

A riveting tour through the landscape and meaning of modern conspiracy theories, exploring the causes and tenacity of this American malady, from birthers to Pizzagate and beyond.

American society has always been fertile ground for conspiracy theories, but with the election of Donald Trump, previously outlandish ideas suddenly attained legitimacy. Trump himself is a conspiracy enthusiast: from his claim that global warming is a Chinese hoax to the accusations of “fake news”, he has fanned the flames of suspicion.  

But it was not by the power of one man alone that these ideas gained new power. Republic of Lies looks beyond the caricatures of conspiracy theorists to explain their tenacity. Without lending the theories validity, Anna Merlan gives a nuanced, sympathetic account of the people behind them, across the political spectrum, and the circumstances that helped them take hold. The lack of a social safety net, inadequate education, bitter culture wars, and years of economic insecurity have created large groups of people who feel forgotten by their government and even besieged by it.   

Our contemporary conditions are a perfect petri dish for conspiracy movements: a durable, permanent, elastic climate of alienation and resentment. All the while, an army of politicians and conspiracy peddlers has fanned the flames of suspicion to serve their own ends.    

Bringing together penetrating historical analysis and gripping on-the-ground reporting, Republic of Lies transforms our understanding of American paranoia.

©2019 Anna Merlan (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

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The greatest threat to society; disinformation, m

Anna Merlan’s book Republic of Lies is a well written, even-handed, and thought-provoking look at the cause and effects of conspiracy theories. Being perhaps the most recognized victim of one of the most prolific conspiracy theories, Sandy Hook, it can be easy to focus on the horrible results of hoaxer’s beliefs, which have included stalking, harassment, and death threats. While acknowledging the tremendous damage that conspiracy theory causes and the threat to both private citizens like myself and to the community and even democracy as a whole, Merlan peels back the layers of circumstances that create conspiracy theories and discusses why they happen and how easily they can consume people. This book is an important read for anyone interested in understanding what is quite possibly the greatest threat to society; disinformation, misinformation, and the monetization of lies.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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An empathetic dive into dark corners

This is a deep dive into the sub-culture(s) of modern American conspiracy theories. But rather than laughing at believers’ strange ideas or focusing on the irredeemable villains of the community, Merlan is empathetic as she explains how so many people became so lost. Reminded me a bit of Jon Ronson’s books. Her thoughts in the epilogue, on how tech companies and journalists should operate in the world she describes, could be her next book!

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Riveting!

Anna’s research is thorough, she treats her subjects and readers with respect, her sense of humor is wry. I loved this book and listened to it in one sitting.