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Umberto Eco: Il pendolo di Foucault (Foucault’s Pendulum)

As far as conspiracy theory books go, this may be the best. Forget The Da Vinci Code (though this book has the Mary Magdalene theory of that book before Dan Brown did) and the others, this book manages to combine incredible erudition, a conspiracy theory that is not entirely unconvincing (that the Templars were the start of a giant conspiracy theory to dominate the world that is still ongoing) and Eco’s tongue-in-cheek approach. Three men working for a publishing company in Milan have seen numerous conspiracy theory books. They are also fascinated with computers. They therefore take all the conspiracy information they have, put it into a computer and call it The Plan. However, of course, the computer comes up with something that they do not suspect, namely that the Templars are a key to the whole and that there is a key point, namely Foucault’s Pendulum in Paris. Of course, there are bad guys and they discover the Plan and want to control it and get the information that they think it has. Our heroes also get caught up in the whole thing and start believing that it is all real. Much of the book tells, in an unbelievably erudite but very fascinating manner, how the conspiracy came about and how it has unfolded over the centuries, including what is currently happening. The denouement takes place at Foucault’s Pendulum. It is great fun but also superbly written and cannot fail to attract not only conspiracy theorists and history buffs but anyone interested in good writing.

Publishing history

First published 1988 by Bompiani
First published in English 1989 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
Translated by William Weaver