How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen
A Short History of Modern Delusions

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In 1979 two events occurred that would shape the next twenty-five years. In America and Britain, an era of weary consensus was displaced by the arrival of a political marriage of fiery idealists: Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher transformed politics with a combination of breezy charm and assertive "Victorian values." In Iran, the fundamentalist cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini set out to restore a regime that had last existed almost 1,300 years ago. Between them they succeeded in bringing the twentieth century to a premature close. By 1989, Francis Fukuyama was declaring that we had now reached the End of History.

What colonized the space recently vacated by notions of history, progress and reason? Cults, quackery, gurus, irrational panics, moral confusion and an epidemic of idiocy, the proof of which was to be found in every state, every work-place, and every library. In Idiot Proof, columnist Francis Wheen brilliantly evokes the key personalities of the post-political era—including Princess Diana and Deepak Chopra, Osama bin Laden and Nancy Reagan's astrologer—while lamenting the extraordinary rise in superstition, relativism and emotional hysteria over the past quarter of a century.

In turn comic, indignant, outraged and just plain baffled by the idiocy of it all, Idiot Proof is a masterful depiction of the daftness of our times and a plea that we might just think a little more and believe a little less.

About Francis Wheen

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Francis Wheen is an award-winning columnist for "The Guardian" in London, & the deputy editor of "Private Eye".
Published July 6, 2005 by PublicAffairs. 338 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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And here is the cult of Diana, whom Blair called the people's princess, the date of whose death Gordon Brown proposed should become a national holiday, and in whose honour, William Hague suggested, London Heathrow should be renamed Diana Airport: the ultimate yielding up, in Wheen's analysis, of ...

Feb 06 2004 | Read Full Review of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the...

The Guardian

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How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, by Francis Wheen (Harper Perennial, £7.99).

Oct 15 2004 | Read Full Review of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the...


The thesis for the book, the thread that is supposed to do the job of holding Wheen's disparate rants together, is that 1979 marked a turning point in the world as it was the year that Margaret Thatcher was elected in the UK and the year the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran.

Feb 02 2004 | Read Full Review of How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the...

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