3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Historical and journalistic, 13 Dec 2009
This interesting book takes us through the 20th century and on to present day, showing the various political conspiracy theories that have emerged over the decades: Jews want to control the world, Trotskyites are why Stalinist Russia is failing, Oswald was framed, Marilyn and princess Diana were murdered, 9/11 was an inside job, and so on. Aaronovitch wisely does not spend too much time debunking these ideas: he's not writing this book to change anyone's mind. What he does do is show how some of these 'theories' are linked or similar.
In the final, and to me most interesting, chapter, he makes some attempts at explaining why conspiracies remain fascinating to so many. His answers: people love a good narrative; evil order is preferable to evil chaos, and makes more sense; it's form of attention-seeking. He also addresses the 'relativist' response, which says that the truth of conspiracy theories is not nearly as important or significant as their existence, revealing an undercurrent of dissatisfaction and fear. I agree with Aaronovitch when he argues that that might be true, but that conspiracy theories can nevertheless be truly dangerous.