Link to a short filmHmmm, let me see if I can apply the lessons learned in this book to other situations...Poor Charles Dickens. He started off with such a promising literary career, with memorable stories like A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield, but then he completely blew any and all credibility as an author with his disasterous "A Tale of Two Cities". He takes a perfectly normal, every day event like the French Revolution, and concocts this ridiculous conspiracy theory to explain it! Reading this book, Dickens would have you believe that Paris of the 1780's was veritably crawling with spies, dissidents, and malcontents- all utterly dissatisfied with the rule of Louis XVI. Worse still, Dickens expects the reader to accept that all these people were running around, communicating with each other through coded messages, using secret handshakes, nodding at each other with knowning smiles, and plotting to overthrow their king! Now I'm not saying that every last Frenchman loved his ruler... but it just strains all plausibility to think so many of them could be in on this elaborate plan without the whole thing being found out! Surely somebody would blab. As a rational person, I just think there has to be a better explanation for the French Revolution. So where did Dickens get such an outrageous idea? Well, I can't say for sure, but I think he ripped it off from none other than Benjamin Franklin, who writes something similar in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. I like Mr Franklin very well, but I think he is telling some tall tales indeed when he describes groups of colonial men gathering in spooky "secret meetings" to discuss their dissatisfaction with political matters behind King George III's back. Going further, old Ben claims they actually planned aspects of the American Revolution! That's just crazy. Revolutions aren't planned, they just happen. (Read up on the Russian Revolution, if you don't believe me) For one thing, many of the people Franklin names were very successful. Am I really supposed to believe they would risk their careers on something so dangerous and subversive? You almost had me going there, with your conspiracy theories ,Ben! So Dickens wasn't the first, but what is really beyond comprehending is that he wasn't the last! Author Ann Petry, in Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad constructs another elaborate conspiracy theory to explain all the slaves who escaped from the antebellum American South to freedom in the North. Why does something like that need some secret cloak-and-dagger story to explain it? All those people cooperating together to do something illegal?... the police would for sure be all over them and find them out. To be fair, Petry does admit that sometimes did happen but still... come on... Jim Bishop also liked the conspiracy angle in a Civil War setting. In Day Lincoln Was Shot, He hatches up his own little conspiracy yarn to account for the fatal shooting of President Lincoln (which DID really happen, but I believe the shooter acted alone). The way Bishop sees it, there were something like twelve people involved! You know, I'm not saying something like that would be impossible; I'm just saying we don't know, and we never CAN know. See how reasonable I am? Seriously, it all happened so long ago; I can only go by rational thought, and the objective evidence available. To Jim Bishop I say "Take off that tin-foil hat and show me the proof!"Now, I can't finish this review without mentioning the "big daddy" of the whole "conspiracy" genre: Mario Puzo's The Godfather. He goes WAY beyond Bishop's cadre of twelve. As a backdrop for his story about the intrigues of the Corleone family, Puzo takes the now-hackneyed "conspiracy" plot device to a whole new level. He constructs an international crime conspiracy called "the Mafia" to explain all those tollboth shootings and missing jurors around New York in the 1940's and 50's. ...As if there weren't a less sexy, more pedestrian explanation! Spanning from Italy to the United States, this "mafia" includes hundreds, maybe thousands of conspirators, acting together in secret, lurking around every corner like some sort of parasitic infestation on society. But if such a thing could ever exist, why hasn't anybody I know ever seen any of them? It is simply ridiculous.To Dickens, Franklin, Petry, Bishop, and Puzo (especially Puzo), I kindly suggest they check out Debunking 9 11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can't Stand Up to the Facts The Editors of Popular Mechanics could really teach this lunatic fringe a thing or two about rational thinking. The book even has a foreward by Sen. John McCain. That one time when he started singing "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran", I just knew: "Now here is a rational man." Oh- Debunking 9 11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory handily deconstucts all the rubbish offered in this book.