I've been a huge fan of Louis Theroux for many years, and to me Jon Ronson's book strikes the same tone as one of Louis' shows.
By building a rapport with people who have very extreme beliefs and opinions, they are humanized. One can even empathize to a degree. This is a much more productive policy than simply demonizing or disregarding them.
In most extremists there is a grain of something real that should be considered and built in to our own thinking. However, that is not to overlook the fact that many of these people are essentially delusional and even dangerous.
That is the most important aspect of Jon's book and Louis' shows - whilst opening our minds to empathize and relate, they also illuminate where the reasonable become unreasonable and the understandable become outrageous. And best of all this demarkation is often hilarious and self-evident when exposed by a reasonable person repeating the ludicrous words back to the ludicrous people who just spoke them.
It is genius and a service to the world in my opinion.
I am sure that Jon's book would have lost much of the humor and nuance had it been read by another narrator, so well done Jon.
I love to be read to!
A romp through crazy town with a great host. Also learned some things.
Jon Krakauer without the yuks. They like the same subjects.
I loved the descriptions of bohemian grove and the men urinating on trees!
His books are great and I am going to read all of them at some point. I love that he is the narrator. Self narrations really adds allot in my opinion. Good narration can make or break an audiobook in my opinion.
The content was good, but the reading made listening to this audiobook painful
The first hand accounts of extremists
His accent was strange and his reading was stiff. The pronounciations were bizarre. Antisemite was pronounced Anti sea mite, which I have never heard before. When someone who the author was interviewing laughed, the author made a weird "ha ha" sound. It was like fingernails down a chalkboard. Producers should really dissuade authors from reading their own books.
The content is really good, but I almost stopped listening to it.
Really eye opening about the Randy Weaver family. The others were extremists, but even Ronson agrees that the Weavers really weren't that whacko and puts their story in a real context.
Besides the section on Ruby Ridge I didn't like this book. It wasn't really what I expected.
How he bowed down to people that were obviously hateful toward him.
The performance is what kept me listening. He's a great reader, his humor is great and his timing is awesome. Just wish he had some backbone.
Disappointment mostly. I understand journalistic integrity but there comes a point where you should be a human being. I think the worst part is when he let that poor man go be publicly humiliated after he expressed to him that it was his worst fear. That was horrible.
My chief complaint about "Them" is Ronson did not use his considerable gifts to unearth some of the more disturbing high weirdness evident in Conspiracy cultures. Sadly he focuses on garden variety racist groups, and their lazy thematic ties, which seems a missed opportunity.
The idea of Illuminati overlords remains a boiler plate narrative for those interested in "cultural Outsiders" so the thematic quality of "Them" seems to fall a little flat. It turns out that The Illuminati (or Elders Of Zion, ZOG or what have you) tend to be rather boring, if remarkably predictable, subscribers of tired Anti-Semitic tropes.
If one is a first time reader of Ronson, I'd say skip this one and go right to "The Psychopath Test", where he truly has something interesting to say?
Sure, "Them" It's ok for slogging through traffic, but I certainly didn't miss Them when they were gone.
I am a grower. A tangle of vines weaving round myrtle branch fences. Rusty metal, soft stone, and worn wood. Unkempt curls and knees covered in clay. I listen.
Insightful, Humorous, terrifying
Honestly Ron Jonson as he gets himself into situations that are really quite scary. His recounting the often terrifying and of sometimes somewhat bumbling attempts to get to the truth behind THEM. Great story teller.
He is a wonderful writer and does his work justice by reading it!
This is a fascinating book. Seeing the very personal side of people, who are often portrayed as cold calculating monster in the mainstream media, is often even more terrifying. Realizing that these folks are essentially average people with extreme beliefs and willing to take drastic measures.
The least helpful reviewer on audible.
For those of you who are uninitiated with Jon Ronson I would advise you not to start with this book as it was written before 9/11 and considering the subject matter is rather dated now. I am a huge Jon Ronson fan and strongly recommend that you check out his books, but maybe start with Lost at Sea or The Psychopath Test.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I especially liked the interviews with Rachael and Randy Weaver of Ruby Ridge fame. I’ve read some books on the Ruby Ridge catastrophe in the past and consider it one of the most outlandish acts of government tyranny in American history. So, to hear from the people involved in that event was edifying.
Ronson’s attempted infiltration of a secret Builderburg meeting in Portugal was exciting and scary, yet somehow comical in a way that only Jon Ronson can pull off. That’s what I love about him. He gets himself in some of the most intense and harrowing situations and relates them in a humorous and almost deadpan way. It’s hard to explain. You just have to listen to his books to understand.
The best part of this book was the last chapter. I don’t like giving spoilers. So, I’ll just say that what he and his strange companions discover wasn’t what was expected. Their different reactions upon witnessing the exact same thing is really in essence what the whole book is about. It’s probably the best ending to any of Ronson’s books.