Books

Quick Reads: "The United States of Paranoia" by Jesse Walker

| Wed Aug. 21, 2013 10:17 AM EDT

 

The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory
By Jesse Walker
HARPER

Democrats didn't engineer a malaria outbreak to halt Andrew Johnson's impeachment. Zachary Taylor didn't eat poisoned cherries. Safeway isn't controlled by the Illuminati (so far as we know). Reason editor Jesse Walker doesn't just catalog conjured cabals, but offers his own conspiracy theory, too: that paranoia isn't limited to the fringe—it's everywhere, from post-9/11 foreign policy to liberal backlash against the tea party. Conspiracy theories "are not simply a colorful historical byway," he writes. "They are at the country's core." And the dark and powerful force that penetrates the farthest reaches of society while remaining unknown to most Americans? That's just our psyche.