Them began as a book about different kinds of extremists, but after Jon had got to know some of them - Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen - he found that they had one oddly similar belief: that a tiny, shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, Jon sets out, with the help of the extremists, to locate that room. The journey is as creepy as it is comic, and along the way Jon is chased by men in dark glasses, unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp, and witnesses international CEOs and politicians participate in a bizarre pagan ritual in the forests of northern California.
Them is a fascinating and entertaining exploration of extremism, in which Jon learns some alarming things about the looking-glass world of ‘them’ and ‘us’. Are the extremists on to something? Or has Jon become one of Them?
©2012 Jon Ronson (P)2012 Audible Ltd
"A funny, superbly controlled account of [Ronson’s] wanderings through the wonderland of fanaticism and delusion." (Brian Appleyard, New Statesman)
"This book is chilling and hilarious by turns. Ronson’s trademark laid-back attitude is a delight." (Independent)
"A funny and compulsively readable picaresque adventure through a paranoid shadow world." (Louis Theroux, Guardian)
"Ronson plays up to his charming buffoonery... But he is an acute social commentator. He is compelling." (Times Literary Supplement)
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.
This is a book that could not have been written post 9/11. The access Ronson had to these extremists is amazing. In today's world he would likely have been picked up by Homeland Security or the TSA at some point. Well worth the read.
Reading his own work Jon Ronson brings his quirky personality to life through his performance. I feel strongly that non-fiction authors should read their own work wherever possible and Ronson delivers in spades.
As with all Jon Ronson books, this one was truly pleasurable in audio format—he should offer his services as a professional reader in addition to his writing career. I commend him on his bravery in interacting with “them” and maintaining an unbiased and sometimes amusing (how can you wage Jihad if you can touch a fish), perspective. For me this book was important because it provides a different perspective on my research on terrorist organizational behavior and leadership (ISBN-13: 978-0615687391). While it’s difficult to view the world from the perspective of the extremist, it’s imperative to understanding why they do and behave the way they do. I recommend this book to those interested in the behaviors of individuals and groups, particularly as an alternate reference when researching terrorism.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I enjoyed Jon Ronson’s 2011 foray into the world of psychopaths and special interest groups out to protect or demonize them, and this seemed like a good book of his to read next. Though published in 2001, just before 9/11 and the Bush and Obama presidencies drove conspiracy theory and anti-government groups to new levels of hysteria, it’s an enlightening window into how fringe groups form around certain rallying ideas and code words.
As advertised, Ronson discovers that Islamic extremists in Britain, anti-government paranoids in the US, racist groups, anti-Catholic groups, and a man who claims that the world is ruled by secret alien lizard people all have something in common: fear that a shadowy cabal of bankers, businessmen, media elites, and politicians is scheming to impose some sort of Orwellian New World Order. In their own minds, these extremists are fighting a resistance against those who would turn them into, to use a well-worn internetism, weak and helpless “sheeple”.
As in the Psychopath Test, Ronson carefully humors his subjects and lets them express themselves in their own words, which sometimes veer towards the Monty Python-esque. Hard not to find the bumbling Islamic activist, Omar Bakri Muhammad, somewhat ridiculous, as he makes over-the-top pronouncements, then furiously backpedals towards a more genial facade whenever challenged. Same with KKK leader, Thomas Robb, who is trying to rebrand his organization with a more friendly image after being inspired by some leadership books from the self-help section. Ronson’s own self-deprecating wit is also amusing, if a little distracting at times.
Other people Ronson spends time with, though, seem like they might have a point, such as the survivors of the infamous Ruby Ridge Incident, in which the feds seemingly came down on a misunderstood survivalist family in Idaho with excessive force. His investigations into the claims of anti-Zionist groups raises a question: are Jewish film moguls really just acting out their own insecurities about being Jews in Hollywood... and giving some people the wrong idea? And when Ronson joins Alex Jones (of Infowars fame) and several others in investigating the Bilderberg Group, a publicity-shunning private conference of political, business, and academic elites, it’s somewhat unclear where paranoia ends and dull reality begins. Is a bacchanalian gathering in the woods of Northern California about rich old men celebrating dark, perverse rites of power, or just harmless, fraternity-like fun? Is it scarier to think that these people might indeed have a lot of influence over the world’s affairs... or that they don’t?
Ultimately, this might be a little too light-hearted of a book on extremism -- Ronson, not surprisingly, doesn’t spend much time in the company of the most hateful or militant types of groups, such as neo-Nazis, so his character studies tend more towards crackpots and self-promoters. And this *is* a pre-9/11 book. Still the character studies are interesting.
Audiobooks narrated by their own authors are a mixed bag, but Ronson’s pleading voice adds a lot to the funnier parts, like when he talks about trying to “tone down” his Jewishness.
First, this book is narrated by the author, always a plus. Jon Ronson found a way to attach himself to some very interesting types, mostly religious zealots and New World Order types. Some of the information is quite astonishing. The author has a way of bringing the human element to these idealogy-driven types. SInce all of this is essentially a ramble through interviews and tagging along, it has a very in-the-moment feel about it. I could not stop listening. The author's fun voice is contagious and his wry observations about himself and these strange people he seeks out are compelling listening.
His genre is somewhat himself. In a weird way, he reminds me of Bill Bryson's first hand travels and stories about odd people.
Yes. The Psychopath Test. They are very similar as the author tries to interview people on opposing sides of either mental health medical or religious zealotry. These books teach you quite a lot about archane topics.
Prophets are Phonies
Well worth the time and money. A very fun experience.
I've never been disappointed by the content of a Jon Ronson book and he's also very pleasing to listen to. I read this book several years ago and it is still relevant, interesting, informative, and darkly funny on occasion.
I've listened to three of his books now, and this was the most interesting to me in terms of content. He put himself in dangerous situations investigating the subjects of this book, which is admirable. I cannot even imagine him putting on a KKK hood; I could not have done that. I started losing interest near the end, but for the most part, I was entertained. I did find this one to have more humorous parts than some of the other books, despite the serious subject matter.
I've said it in my previous reviews; although his narration didn't irritate me as much as his prior books (perhaps I'm getting used to his style?), I still think he should not narrate his own books. By the end of this book, I was getting ready to scream if I heard one more "ha-ha, ha-ha."
"Ronson at the beginning, boring in comparison"
not very well written, sometimes clumsy and obviously his first bestseller.
I didnt bother to get to the end
his later books are much better written and more interesting, dont buy this one
I love Jon Ronson`s books, I have them all but this is boring in comparison, I wont bother finishing it.
"A brilliant piece of journalism."
This is a fantastic, tragicomic, disturbing and enlightening debunking of 'New World Order' conspiracies which attacks all aspects of extremist thinking. It also uncovers the Anti Semitism that lays at the heart of all right wing conspiracy theories.
This book has been brilliantly narrated by the author and it will have you laughing and despairing at the same time.
Jon Ronson's voice and manner of speech suits his work far better than other narrators. I loved this book.
"We fear 'Them' but who are they?"
This is another hugely enjoyable investigation by Jon Ronson into the world of bizarre cults and very odd people. As usual I listened to this with one eye on my computer so I could Google some of the names mentioned. As ever all the information imparted by Jon proved to be true despite some really incredible elements. Jon's dry wit pervades this audiobook (which benefits greatly by his reading) and in particular I relished the startling exchanges with Ian Paisley and Denis Healey. The extremists comprise the usual suspects, extreme far right white supremacists, religious fanatics etc. but there is also some unexpected compassion for the people who are not necessarily bad but just generally unlucky in life or simply deluded. The finale of the book is quite spectacular and the bizarre Cremation of Care ceremony is very disturbing. This is an entertaining and informative book about a mad world and the people who are trying to make sense of it all. The very best of good luck with that one….
I had no knowledge of the author, but saw the audio book on special offer so gave it a try.
As a person who enjoys currently affairs and rational while heated debate, I partly suspecting I might have to turn it off, but instead found myself speaking out loud in amazement and at times laughing at the utter unbelievable nature of events described.
The author has an absolute talent for keeping to facts, and making you feel its your choice how to judge. This book is not an attack on extremists, and covers cases where people are assumed to be extremists, although on closer inspection probably weren't.
The delivery of the audio book was also wonderful. The tone and pace was very pleasant, and the straight forward delivery added to the comedy and ridiculous contradictions which are explored.
I will be recommending this book and author for many years to come.
As per usual Jon ronson excels at what he does! Just because your paranoid doesn't mean they're not watching you ........
"They are watching!"
Another great book by Jon Ronson.
Highly recommend if you enjoy his style of witty journalism. I enjoyed it very much.
"Interesting, typical Ronson, funny and insightful"
Parts of it, yes.
At times this book was very funy.
Very enjoyable and interesting, if you like Ronson then you will no doubt enjoy this book. I actually learnt a few things too....which is always good.
"Wonderful, wacky, entertaining"
I don't know.
Probably something written by Louis Theroux.
The slightly 'innocent abroad' delivery. He did a great job.
'You couldn't make it up".
Great fun. Especially the Muslim extremist and Ian Paisley chapters. Pure comic theatre! Jon Ronson tells it, but he doesn't really judge it. I admired his courage for hanging out with these people and for putting this book out there. Highly recommended.
"are we rhem"
really enjoyable and entertaining Jon ronson is an engaging writer and narrator. this book gives a really interesting look at the story behind the conspiracy
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