History Decoded – Ten popular conspiracy theories told as if they were intriguing whodunit stories
History Decoded: The 10 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time
by Brad Meltzer
2013, 160 pages, 8.1 x 8.1 x 1.1
$14 Buy a copy on Amazon
Whether you are a believer in conspiracy theories or not, History Decoded takes a fun look at unsolved history that reads like an intriguing collection of short whodunit stories. Author Brad Meltzer (who hosted History’s Decoded series) investigates the top ten most popular conspiracy theories in countdown order, starting with #10: Was John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln’s assassin) really captured, or was he working with the Confederate Secret Service who helped him escape? Meltzer also begins each theory with an envelope that contains copied documents (newspaper clippings, death certificates, ID cards) that you can pull out and examine for yourself.
When I first cracked the book open I thought, rubbish, of course Booth was caught. (In fact, with all of the book’s conspiracies I was skeptical at first.) But then came the details:
• Booth and his confidant, David Herold, were trapped in a barn, surrounded by 26 Union soldiers. But when Herold was finally apprehended, he asked the soldiers who the other guy in the barn was. The soldiers cried John Booth! But Herold looked confused and disagreed. “He said his name was Boyd.”
• Boyd was a Union prisoner of war, whose paper trail vanished after February 15, 1865, a couple of months before Lincoln was assassinated.
• Three witnesses claimed the man killed in the barn (supposedly Booth) had red hair, but Booth’s hair was jet black.
• The one photo taken of Booth’s autopsy disappeared.
• Dr. John Frederick, Booth’s surgeon who had operated on him before, came to identify the body and said, “This body doesn’t look anything like Booth.”
Meltzer continues “decoding” the John Wilkes Booth case with fascinating facts and theories on where Booth may have went and lived for the next 40 years, who Boyd really was, and what Booth’s family has to say about the matter.
The rest of the conspiracies decoded in the book include:
#9: Where is the Confederate $20-million in gold and silver that disappeared at the end of the Civil War?
#8: Who built the Georgia Guidestones (America’s Stonehenge) and what are its coded meanings?
#7: What happened to DB Cooper, the American hijacker who demanded $200,000 and then jumped from the plane, never to be seen again?
#6: What happened to the corner of democracy, which was the first stone set for the White House? It disappeared shortly after it was set. Some say it was hollow and contained important documents.
#5: What is the Spear of Destiny, which is said to have stabbed Jesus Christ, and which Adolf Hitler coveted. And where did it go?
#4: Did Da Vinci predict our future through his art?
#3: Is there any gold in Fort Knox?
#2: UFOs inside Roswell and Area 51: What does our government really know?
#1: Was Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone, or was it part of a larger conspiracy?
Although some of these conspiracy theories have been thoroughly beaten to the ground with hundreds if not thousands of books and articles written about them, Meltzer covers each with a storytelling that is clear, captivating, and thoroughly thought provoking. He leaves it up to you to decide which theories are real, which are rubbish, and which are simply mysteries that cannot be confirmed or denied. – Carla Sinclair
April 30, 2014