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Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

David Aaronovitch , James Langton
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
Price: 58.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

22 Feb 2010

Our age is obsessed by the idea of conspiracy. We see it everywhere - from Pearl Harbour to 9/11, from the assassination of Kennedy to the death of Diana. Bookshop shelves threaten to collapse under the weight of texts devoted to proving myriad conspiracy theories true, while even quality newspapers and serious TV channels are prepared to give them credence.

For David Aaronovitch, there came a time when he started to see a pattern. These theories used similar dodgy 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; they relied on the authority of dubious academic sources. Most importantly, 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 a deception that they did.

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

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Library ed edition (22 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400145929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400145928
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)

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About the Author

David Aaronovitch is an award-winning journalist, who has worked in radio, television and newspapers in the United Kingdom since the early 1980s. He lives in Hampstead, north London, with his wife, three daughters and Kerry Blue the terrier. His first book, Paddling to Jerusalem, won the Madoc prize for travel literature in 2001. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding conspiracy theories 2 Jan 2010
By Iain S. Palin TOP 1000 REVIEWER
The author deals with a number of well-known conspiracy theories, from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the death of Dr David Kelly, by way of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the death of Marilyn Monroe, the assassinations of JFK and RFK, the moon landings, the Da Vinci code/bloodline of Jesus stuff, and 9/11 (among others) and to my mind demolishes them pretty thoroughly.
But he isn't just interested in debunking. He also examines why people believe in conspiracy theories and why they can exert such a strong grip on them. He points out that conspiracists tend to be on the "losing side" (politically, socially, or economically) of society, and that believing in conspiracies is therapeutic for them. They can explain why they are on the losing side ("we were robbed, deceived") salve their hurt ("the people who deceived us are so powerful, so evil, it's understandable that they appear to be the winners") and then restore their egos ("we have seen the truth, we are so much cleverer than ordinary people who are happy to be sheep-like in their acceptance of things; we are illuminated, in the know, we are special").
Interestingly he is able to develop this line in the light of some recent psychological and biological research which indicates we are genetically hard wired to look for causes and effects. This seems to be related to our developing tool-using capabilities; in order to develop and employ tools we need to think in cause and effect terms. (And of course while some animals to make occasional and specific use of natural objects as tools, humans are the only ones to do so extensively and develop the range of tools to use.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, for what it is... 18 Nov 2009
Well clearly Aaronovitch's book already has a number of conspiracy theorists slathering at the mouth at the debunking of a number of their sacred cows. I guess it's just further evidence to them that the world's media is run by giant lizards from Zarg bent on galactic domination via the printed word. Anyways, let's be grateful for a well researched and readable work which carefully dismantles a number of well know conspiracy theories (Diana, 9/11, JFK) and lesser known ones (e.g. Hilda Murrell). It also usefully provides thoughts on how these theories come about, both in general and in their specific context and what drives people to believe in them despite all the evidence and even post revelation (e.g. Priory of Sion).

So why only three stars?

Well mainly because he carefully selects targets that whilst well known, can also be easily dismantled - a quick check on Wikipedia would probably do enough for the average individual to throw these theories in the bin. So a book on these alone just isn't enough to my mind. A key thing here should be, to my mind, the extent to which governments and companies conspire in far less serious ways and therefore give credence to the possibility of these theories. As such, he doesn't touch on the many day to day collusions, frauds and deceits that governments and companies carry out all the time. These clearly range from the very minor (e. recent Parliamentary expenses), through the domestic (e.g. wire-tapping of political opponents like Scargill), to the international (e.g. French bombing of the Rainbow Warrior) and to the global (e.g. US support for Suharto in the 1960s).
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but frustrating 20 Dec 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The first part of this book was really enjoyable - a pretty detailed look at the anti-Semitic conspiracy Protocols, a fascinating account of the anti-Trotsky faction trials in Russia, some in-depth insight into Mccarthyism and its origins.....

then it goes somewhat downhill. The JFK/Marilyn Monroe stuff, fair enough, but to have an entire chapter devoted to the death of Hilda Murrell? How does this conspiracy in any way "shape modern history"? It's passed largely into obscurity. A chapter on the associated Da Vinci code conspiracies? It's just shooting not very interesting or important fish in a barrel. The chapter on 9-11 conspiracies would probably be of interest to people who haven't previously read of this in detail (though i expect many have). Ditto the Diana conspiracies - but i can't believe there are many people left in Britain not already sick to death of that one....

It's frustrating because the book never really delivers what it promises - evidence of how conspiracies have actually shaped modern history. And yet with less of a British focus there was some fantastic source material to be used - the Russian apartment bombings used as the pretext for the Chechen war. They warrant a genuinely interesting discussion of the facts. Ditto the poisoning of Litvinyenko or the poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko.
Or the "HIV does not cause AIDS" conspiracy and associated beliefs that it was all a western imperialist conspracy. This led to SA president Mbeki dismissing the use of retro-virals and to the unnecessary deaths of tens (if not hundreds) of thousands. Or keeping with the British theme, a discussion on Lockerbie, probably the most interesting British conspiracy (in terms of political intrigue) of the last few decades.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting review of some of the bizarre things people believe
This book is not a comprehensive review of all the conspiracies going - it would have had to be ten times the size - and falls slightly short of the subtitle claim to assess "the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Marshall Lord
5.0 out of 5 stars A real Eye Opener.
First of all, this book is really easy to read. It is quite a tome in hardback (the format which I read it in) and the title gives it the polished air of an academic study (which... Read more
Published 3 months ago by bekibird
2.0 out of 5 stars Case of skilled writer with nothing to say...
Well, for starters I've got to admit that for one reason or another, I happen to like conspiracy theories. Read more
Published 14 months ago by MALee
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter tosh.
David Aaronovitch is one of those smug, self opinionated wind bags that quite often appears on the BBC as he is regarded as a safe pair of hands and part of the establishment. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Geoff
1.0 out of 5 stars A pennies worth of claptrap
David Aaronovitch is one of those smug, self opinionated wind bags that quite often appears on the BBC as he is regarded as a safe pair of hands and part of the establishment. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Geoff
1.0 out of 5 stars rubbish from a right wing reactionary
This book is absolute rubbish - not surprising when it is written by a right wing reactionary such Mr aaronovitch. Read more
Published on 6 Sep 2011 by Fin Hope
1.0 out of 5 stars An ultimately disappointing book.
The author deconstructs very popular, very prominent conspiracy theories - choices disappointing in themselves; they have been done before so often that now, the only people... Read more
Published on 8 July 2011 by Aleks
1.0 out of 5 stars Sorry David
Sorry also to Amazon but I borrowed Book this from a friend.

Gosh , where to start !


Dustification of the Twin-towers

Lateral... Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2011 by John D. Weir
1.0 out of 5 stars Professional Liar
Aaronovitch links 'conspiracy theorists' with the idea of "hating the Jews". Wrong. Some people really hate LIES and the LIARS who tell those treacherous (and treasonous)... Read more
Published on 17 April 2011 by K. BOYLE
1.0 out of 5 stars Propaganda classic
Any book touting the term 'conspiracy theory' on it's cover red flags the aware reader to its purpose---propaganda. Read more
Published on 13 Feb 2011 by whale.to
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