Jacobson’s Pale Horse Rider

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

William Cooper you have so much to answer for. The author of Behold a Pale Horse, the ur-text of modern American conspiracy theory gave birth to a thousand late night stoned conversations, perpetuated antisemitism, encourage the militia movement, is adjacent to the sovereign citizen insanity and much, much more.

He is an example I think of the con man turned true believer, which is a trope that appears often in the world of conspiracy. He starts lost, a disappointment to his family, and selling “insider knowledge” to the UFO crowd. He ends alone, drunk, and broke being killed by the local police in a mishap that never had to happen. In between he goes from slide shows at UFO conventions to writing the most popular conspiracy book of all time and hosting a surprisingly popular short wave radio show. He never gets rich, but he does get famous in the world of the weird and along the way, he believes more and more of his madness.

It’s a pretty depressing story from start to finish but one I found fascinating. I was involved in left wing radical publishing circles when Cooper was at his height of influence and while I had heard of him, I knew none of the gory details. Now I do. A sad, but fascinating life.  

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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