I have tried several times to listen to this audiobook, but the author's voice and narration style are difficult for me to listen to for any length of time. The subject seems interesting. Reading the book may be a better alternative.
very interesting! a good mix of narrative and science.
i have been a long time fan of jon ronson's contributions to this american life, and actually it was an episode on the psychopath test that brought this book to my attention. he is such a great narrator! i would be much more likely to purchase one of his other audiobooks if they were narrated by him, but i dont think either of them are.
former nuclear scientist
The title of the novel is based on an actual checklist of 20 psychopathic characteristics that a person can be rated on, 0 - 2, like a Cosmo quiz. The author reads this checklist, and refers to his favorites frequently ("item 8: callous lack of empathy"), but I think this book would work better being read instead of listened to, simply because it's easier to dogear the page of the checklist when you need to refer to it.
Instead, we get the excruciatingly British narration of the author. He has that accent that is full of glottal stops and elongated vowels that sounds almost whiny. It's understandable to an American, but it does have some unintended comedy, such as when someone asks him the author of the list, and he says "Bob Hare. I said his name very clearly," but "Hare" sounds like "Hwehhhhh." His pronunciation of "Coxsacki" is hilarious. I probably should have listened to it at 1.5x speed.
Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of his writing. He frequently repeats entire scenes verbatim. Just over one minute in, we get:
"I'm Debra," she said.
"I'm Jon," I said.
"I'm James," he said.
There is also such padding as describing a meeting to us (the listeners) in summary, then describing the same scene in a conversation with an interviewee, verbatim.
Ronson frames the book as his journey through psychology and the business of madness. He makes himself a big subject of the book: his struggles with anxiety, his use of the checklist to settle personal scores, and his personal relationships. He comes across as somewhat credulous, bouncing back and forth between conclusions about psychology and psychopathy depending on with whom he last spoke. He talks to Scientologists, a terror victim traumatized by internet trolls, a once-respected Brit who slides into delusions, diagnosed psychopaths, and famous CEO Al Dunlap. He tries to see how they all fit with the checklist, and wavers between wondering if he is unfairly shoehorning people into this checklist and being frightened of psychopaths being everywhere. He repeats the claim that they make up about 1% of the population, and talks about them like they are vampires in disguise, waiting to victimize the rest of us. He successfully profiles nutty people, people who exploit nutty people, and people who regret having exploited nutty people. Then he comes to no real conclusion.
I think I'd rather have read this as a physical book, or perhaps read "Snakes in Suits" instead - written by Bob Hare, and probably more focused.
It is hard to describe the structure of this book. It's not exactly what the publisher's summary might suggest. It is rather like going on a journey with Jon Ronson as he is pulled bit by bit into learning about so-called "psychopaths," one experience leading free form to the next. It was really pleasurable to watch his thought process develop from each incident or interview. Along the way we are exposed to the Hare checklist for diagnosing psychopaths, towards which Ronson conveys a respectful skepticism. The author reads the book himself, which can be a recipe for disaster, but his inflection here is droll and keeps you listening.
Yes, refresh the details.
Thorough coverage of the topic.
Explanation & description of the physical attributes in psychopath's brain and how they respond to differently to stimuli.
I don't think this would be the kind of book to be made into a film unless it is a documentary.
Now I know for sure my instincts were right about psychopaths, they really are hard-wired differently than non-psychopaths (ie. normal people). Its not a chemical inbalance that can be remedied like most other forms of mental illness with medication or diet. Good book to learn about the condition and how society tries to cope.
This book is an exploration of the test and its possible applications for good and bad. The author doesn't push one point of view as much as describe the views of others. Interesting. I would have liked to be able to see the entire test...
Software engineer and avid, lifetime student. I like deep, thoughtful non-fiction, and fiction that compliments and enriches it.
It's pretty hard to sum up this book because it really is a journey - through the ideas (and opinions) of the most vehement commentators on and within the field of psychopathy - as well as the possible psychopaths themselves. It's a very engaging story and Ronson's read (with a Ron Weasley accent) makes it all the more fun for a yank like myself.
This is the first book by this author that I've listened too. I enjoyed it and his narration.