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VINE VOICEon 24 May 2009
Very simply, this the basis of this book is a number of alleged conspiracies. These include the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, US involvement in the attack on Pearl Harbour, secret service involvement in the killings of JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Diana and others, and US and Israeli involvement in 9/11.

Aaronovitch describes how the conspiracy theories arose, how they were propogated and evidence which finally debunks each of them in turn. He also goes further in examining the long term, frequently disastrous effects of belief in the specious conspiracies (particularly the Protocols) and also how adherents frequently continue to cling to their beliefs often long after they have been discredited, employing frightening Looking Glass logic that the weight of opposition is proof of veracity.

Overall the book is a plea for rationality and enlightenment over woolly thinking and credulity. One highly amusing but slightly unsettling chapter deals with Christ's bloodline where we find the exponents stating that in order to prove their theories they need to go beyond normal scholarship. Sounds good ? Nope its just means that the application of rigourous analysis makes their house of cards come tumbling down..

The book is not as some (and some reviews) have claimed a call for total belief in the word of government and unquestioning acceptanve of what we are told. It is precisely the opposite of those things, it is a call to examine all evidence with a genuinely open and rigourously analytical mind.

Overall the book is excellent, easily readable, intelligent, thought provoking and highly entertaining.
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on 18 May 2009
Whatever you may believe regarding conspiracy theories, you will be surprised at the depth of research this book provides. It's well-written and fascinating - exploring what lies behind the scenes of history and uncovering the links that you probably never knew. If you've ever questioned why something has happened, this will give you more to think about, not less.
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on 13 May 2009
David Aaronovitch is an intelligent, resourceful and incisive columnist, whose work in the Guardian and latterly The Times I much admire. This book is a well-researched, first-class demolition of a dozen modern conspiracy theories, tracing their origins, their diffusion, the motives behind those who choose to adhere to them, and the selective evidence, paranoia and downright misinformation they propagate. Noting the one or two attacks on the book given here (I would hardly call them criticisms - that would be to attribute to them a degree of balance), they remind me of what my archaeology professor told us many years ago at a time when a number of books were published which asserted that the World's major civilisations developed through the agency of visitors from outer space -

"By all means keep an open mind, just make sure that it isn't so open that your brains fall out".
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on 11 May 2009
Lady Diana was killed because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt when her
speeding car, driven by a drunk driver had a crash in an Paris underpass
notorious for the number of car accidents that take place there. Likewise
President Kennedy was shot by a bonkers former marine who'd earlier that
month tried to shoot a different prominent figure. Pearl Harbour was
attacked by the Japanese Navy in an effort to pre-emptively cripple the US
Fleet and Marilyn Munroe died from a self inflicted overdose.

Many people think that none of the above is true and have developed
elaborate theories to explain how and why vast shadowy conspiracies
assembled to make it look like all these things are true. David Aaronovitch
not only neatly dissects these theories, using Ockham's razor no less, he
also expounds a few theories of his own as to why people need them in the
first place.
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on 9 May 2009
Voodoo Histories does exactly that! it cuts through the mist and haze of gossip, paranoia, fantasies and even public guilt... imagination and half buried conscience, that furnish and ignite so many of the great conspiracy theories. Exactly as it says! why do we feel the need to have conspiracy theories at all? Is something missing in our own lives? Extremely well written. Put it on your book list for 2009.
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on 8 May 2009
Aaronovitch doesn't provide an exhaustive list of conspiracy theories; instead he illustrates his point by looking at some of the some of the biggies, starting with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, all the way to the suspicions surrounding the death of UN weapons inspector David Kelly. In a sensible, logical manner (and with a fair dose of humour), the author prises off the lid off each conspiracy, pointing out the places where coherent and plausible theories are lacking. An interesting counterpoint to the many shrill and less coherent works on the subject.
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on 7 May 2009
Forensically researched, elegantly written and laugh out loud funny, this is the book I had been waiting for to parry the many conspiracy theories expounded by otherwise rational, sensible friends and colleagues. When it comes out in paperback I shall keep it in my handbag for speedy reference.
At last I understand the origins of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion but was shocked to discover just how influential they were and they remain. This book really is an eye opener.The way the stories of the conspiracies unfold is compelling but I was also intrigued by Aaronovitch's search for an explanation for why seemingly sane people are so ready to believe in conspiracies when there are much simpler, more obvious explanations readily available. Yes, there's the search for a narrative that makes sense of an otherwise random world, but I did enjoy his description of conspiracy theories as "history for losers," mainly men, though he does balance his scorn with a patient almost sympathetic quest to understand the sources of the conspiracists' need to believe in global plots.
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on 7 May 2009
At one time I was a firm believer in the conspiracy theory of John F. Kennedy's assassination. But then new facts emerged, the ballistic evidence fell into its correct perspective, and it turned out that Oswald had fired all the shots after all. I then had to go through the strange, and strangely pleasurable, sensation of opening my mind and allowing myself to let go of a long-held opinion. In this book David Aaronovitch covers not only the Kennedy case, but a wide range of other conspiracy scenarios, debunking them with wit, intelligence and a refreshing dose of common sense, allowing innumerable readers the opportunity to experience that same pleasurable sense of opening their minds and letting go of long cherished `facts'. Voodoo Histories provides the tools for us to cut through the half truths, fantasies and wish fulfillment that lie behind the majority of conspiracy theories, and as a bonus it explores the question of why we feel the need to have conspiracy theories at all. On top of which, it is extremely well written. Very highly recommended.
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