Real Enemies Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-03-11
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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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. Although paranoia has been a feature of the American scene since the birth of the Republic, in Real Enemies Kathryn Olmsted shows that it was only in the twentieth century that strange and unlikely conspiracy theories became central to American politics. In particular, she posits World War I as a critical turning point and shows that as the federal bureaucracy expanded, Americans grew more fearful of the government itself--the military, the intelligence community, and even the President. Analyzing the wide-spread suspicions surrounding such events as Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, Watergate, and 9/11, Olmsted sheds light on why so many Americans believe that their government conspires against them, why more people believe these theories over time, and how real conspiracies--such as the infamous Northwoods plan--have fueled our paranoia about the governments we ourselves elect.

Author Biography

Kathryn S. Olmsted is a professor of history at the University of California, Davis. She has written two previous books on secrecy in the U.S. government.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 1
The Consent of the People: Presidential Secrecy and the First World Warp. 13
Lying Us into War? The Second Battle of Pearl Harborp. 45
Masters of Deceit: Red Spies and Red Hunters in the McCarthy Erap. 83
The Dealey Plaza Irregulars: The JFK Assassination and the Collapse of Trust in the 1960sp. 111
White House of Horrors: Nixon, Watergate, and the Secret Governmentp. 149
Trust No One: Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories from the 1970s to the 1990sp. 173
Cabal of Soccer Moms: 9/11 and the Culture of Deceitp. 205
Conclusionp. 233
Notesp. 241
Bibliographyp. 287
Indexp. 309
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