Many Americans believe that their own government is guilty of shocking crimes. Government agents shot the president. They faked the moon landing. They stood by and allowed the murders of 2,400 servicemen in Hawaii--or 3,000 civilians in New York. In their zeal to cover up their crimes, theykilled witnesses, faked evidence, and stole into secure offices to snatch incriminating documents from the files. Although the paranoid style has been a feature of the American scene since the birth of the Republic, in Real Enemies, Kathryn Olmsted shows that it is only in the twentieth century that strange and unlikely conspiracy theories have become central to American politics. While Americans hadworried about bankers, Jews, and Catholics for decades, Olmsted sees World War I as a critical turning point for conspiracy theories. As the federal government expanded, Americans grew more fearful of the government itself--the military, the intelligence community, and even the President. Perhaps more important, Olmsted examines why so many Americans believe that their government conspires against them, why more people believe these theories over time, and how real conspiracies by government officials--such as the infamous Northwoods plan--have fueled our paranoia about thegovernment.
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Oxford University Press
January 02, 2009
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