• Deborah MB

'The 10 Greatest Conspiracies' were great on TV

In The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, Brad Meltzer presents to us what he considers to be the most interesting cases from his television series Decoded.

Meltzer and Ferrell use a language reminiscent of the voice-over, present blurry images as ‘Exhibits’, and focus on one or two theories (except for the JFK chapter) before offering a blank conclusion. The authors clearly do not aim at solving the conspiracies, but rather at offering possible answers which support their findings. Also, they keep from exhaustive research of alternate theories as well as from intertwining the cases. These are short explorations of large cases (such as the assassinations of A. Lincoln and J.F. Kennedy, the contents (of Fort Knox and Area 51, the Spear of Destiny, and the works of Leonardo da Vinci) with a blatant ‘entertainment only’ goal.

The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time is a holiday read, or a travel one. A book born of popular television, but not from scientific documentaries.

Who would like this

This is a book for curious minds who read for fun, have a bit of time, and have sometimes wondered about any of the cases presented.

Who should give this a pass

Any serious reader of conspiracies, or with an extensive background in history and research, will find this book a frustrating tease rather than an actual tool. For such audiences, finding the original programme episode would be more appropriate.

Conclusions and suggestions

Meltzer and Ferrell have produced a volume which recreates Meltzer’s great entertainment achievement, Decoded. That’s what it is, that’s what you get. It’s an easy read that can be followed by all audiences, away from any real controversy or intellectual strain. It also refrains from exploring the more current conspiracies that would pop up in any documentary website tab.

The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time are mostly cases from the United States of America, which is to be expected considering the viewership of the original programme. For a non-American, some of these ‘great conspiracies’ are more ‘curious cases’, not quite justified by the title as opposed other suspected conspiracies worldwide we’d expect to find. It thus has a clear readership, outside of which the audience will simply turn pages, scanning and skimming for the interesting bits (i.e., the texts on the sides, or around the images/’exhibits’) without caring for the rest of the narrative.

Again, this is not a bad book. It is simply quite vanilla, for its bombastic title which would be more accurate as The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of Decoded, instead. In fact, for anyone thinking of creating similar material, I would recommend:

· Deliver what you promise, or rethink your title. Are you overreaching?

· Lists in titles are everywhere, mostly used as click-bait in media. If you are going to use them in your title, be aware it makes it seem quite a disposable text.

· English is a global language, therefore books in this language will have a larger audience. If you disregard a group once, you might lose them for future volumes, as they will not expect to find anything relevant to them.

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