Pale Horse Rider: William Cooper, the Rise of Conspiracy, and the Fall of Trust in America

Mark Jacobson. Blue Rider, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-0-399-16995-3
A notorious conspiracy theorist searches for the hidden plan behind world events and his own existence in this revealing, claustrophobic biography. Journalist Jacobson (The Lampshade) explores the bumpy life of William Cooper, an influential conspiracist—he popularized the term sheeple—whose radio show The Hour of the Time and bestselling book Behold a Pale Horse found fans as diverse as Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and rappers the Wu-Tang Clan. Jacobson follows Cooper’s convoluted theories about such subjects as UFOs and the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks; his great project was the unmasking of a “Luciferian” conspiracy, involving powerful groups from the Illuminati to the Clinton administration, that he believed was creating systemic shocks such as price hikes and staged terrorist attacks to impose an invisible but totalitarian mind-control regime. In counterpoint to Cooper’s grand theory of everything is Jacobson’s picaresque account of Cooper’s chaotic personal life, full of abusive behavior, familial estrangement, and professional feuding, with a violent ending—he was killed in a shoot-out with sheriff’s deputies at his Arizona home in 2001—brought on largely by his own paranoia. Jacobson’s narrative is poker-faced about Cooper’s unorthodox beliefs but sympathetic towards the yearnings behind them and infused with colorful reportage on conspiracists. The result is an enthralling portrait of a dark but potent strain in American culture. Photos. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2018
Release date: 09/04/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-61176-417-8
Ebook - 978-0-698-15798-9
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-399-18573-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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