United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory

Author(s): Jesse Walker


The United States of Paranoia is a history of America's demons. Conspiracy theories, Walker explains, aren't just a feature of the fringe: They've been a potent force across the political spectrum, in the center as well as the extremes, from the colonial era to the present. Walker argues that conspiracy stories need to be read not just as claims to be either believed or debunked but as folklore. When a tale takes hold, it says something true about the anxieties and experiences of the people who believe and repeat it, even if it says nothing true about the objects of the theory itself. With intensive research and a deadpan sense of humor, The United States of Paranoia combines the rigor of real history with the punch of pulp fiction. The first half of the book lays out five conspiracy narratives that keep recurring in American politics and popular culture, zeroing in on particular examples from the seventeeth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries: The Enemy Outside, The Enemy Within, The Enemy Below, The Enemy Above, and The Benevolent Conspiracy. The second half looks at how those primal stories have played out in different contexts in the last half-century, from Watergate to Waco to the War on Terror.

Product Information

Jesse Walker is books editor at Reason magazine and the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and their two daughters.

General Fields

  • : 9780062135551
  • : HarperCollins
  • : Harper
  • : 0.646
  • : August 2013
  • : 229mm X 152mm X 29mm
  • : United States
  • : September 2013
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Jesse Walker
  • : Hardback
  • : Sep-13
  • : English
  • : 001.90973
  • : 352
  • : 20 Illustrations Throughout; 2-Color Printed Endpapers