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)
Ronson’s foray into the worldview of extremists has its charms and moments of humor but soon becomes, like its subjects, tedious. Ronson’s journalistic shtick is to more or less ingratiate himself among his subjects, get them to open up, and report on the results in what amounts to narrative transcripts with a bit of commentary thrown in on the side. Kudos for his bravery, ingenuity and chutzpah. Still, like anyone who has ever been trapped at a party by a droning bore, the listener’s initial amusement soon gives way to tedium. Are any of the extremists in this book interesting? Not so much, unless you are perhaps a fellow traveler. Does this book shed any light on why Ronson’s subjects have adopted such beyond the mainstream worldviews? Not really, apart from the obvious. Are his repeated attempts to validate suspicions about the highly secret Bilderberg group compelling? No. I like Ronson as a journalist, as a narrator of his audiobooks, and for his humor but Them is an audiobook I don’t recommend.
Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.
Wing nuts and conspiracy theorists are the subject of Jon Ronson’s “Them”. With the exception of Ronson’s treks into the woods of an American’ Ku Klux Klan camp, Ronson’s adventures seem benign more than dangerous.
They, who are called “Them”, all have followers that threaten freedom of choice; i.e. that freedom which does not infringe on freedom of other’s. They all say “It is my way or no way”. The truth is–the only controller of our future is human nature.
It was a good book, and Ronson's sympathetic take toward the people he covers humanizes them as they dehumanize others. Whether it's racism, or anti-semitism, or anti-twelve foot tall lizardism, whatever group dehumanization you prefer, the point is that these people fail to see the flaws in their own absurd thinking while fabricating flaws in others. An old man pissing against a redwood becomes a satanic act somehow, while McVeigh's murder of more than 100 patriotic Americans in the Murrah Building is a proportional response to Ruby Ridge and Waco. And yes, if you attend Aryan Nations meetings, you are a racist anti-Semite. Just like Randy Weaver. SPOILER ALERT: it was Alex Jones who erased the footage on Ronson's video tape, in order to secure himself an exclusive, and he did it in such a way that would facilitate Ronson's conspiracy mongering.
conspiracy theorists with a dull sense of humour.
not narrate his own book.
mincing, slow, not emotive.
the kind of narration I would expect from a bored English hairdresser
I have to admit I did not listen to half this book. it seemed to have no real direction, chock full of the banal daily doings of a "terrorist" apparently devoid of ambition.
the narrator had a voice like a tickly feather in my ear, I wanted to dig it out with a screwdriver.
EntrepreNerd - Looking for good books on tech, life skills and business
Not really. It was like seeing a journalist go into the camp of each extremist and come out agreeing with their views. Near the end, the story turned ridiculous and boring. I only finished because I am too anal to get that far into a bool and stop.
There were a few interesting stories, but mostly the narrators voice was annoying and most of the stories were boring.
His voice is too high pitched and when he mimicked others' laughs, it got irritating.
This is only the second Audible book that I have rated poorly. For one thing, there is hardly any adventure in it. It consists simply of a series of encounters that the author/narrator had with extremists back in the 90's. Some aren't even extremists.
We get a very small glimpse into the conspiratorial paranoia of these people, but not much. Mr. Ronson is surprisingly uninsightful into what makes these people tick; there is no more information about their inner workings or the shared culture of these groups than you get from popular magazines.
Engineer in St Louis, Missouri, United States
I guess this is a book for Jewish people that are obsessed with being Jews and want to know what other think about them at all times. What about if you just want to read a good book? I must an extremist because I think this book is completely stupid. Ronson actually wonders if he "rules the world"?
The one chapter that interviewed the Weaver family and looked back at what is known as the Ruby Ridge incident had a great impact on me. It was painful to hear about, but educational as well - I had not read behind-the-scenes information and the history changed for me.
The other chapters, where the various heads of political or activist or anti-this or anti-that groups, and their members, were interesting and at times amusing. In the end, all the people featured seemed to be of a similar personality type and maybe they got into their respective groups or ideas simply because of where they were born or who they were around.
The book started out strong and ended quietly. Jon Ronson is an excellent investigative journalist and I learned a lot, but because he can see the humor in life and people, the stories were easier to listen to.
Maybe, but not strongly. This is the type of book that fills some hours with a reasonable return on investment. It exposes the listener to the thoughts of some extremists they might not experience otherwise.
The story of the British jihadi. The others groups/individuals were also interesting.
There is a degree of humor to the reading and situations that would probably be lost if not performed by the author.
From off-the-wall to dangerous
Readers who find Ronson through the movie 'Men who stare at goats' should proceed cautiously with the rest of his work. Listen to one. If you don't like the style, stop. They are all very similar in tone and delivery, only the subject matter changes and Ronson's style tends to be about making the mundane interesting, which he is not always able to accomplish.
I really enjoyed this book and like Ronsons style. He spends years researching his subject material and presents a non inflammatory relatively rounded view of extremism.
Essentially this a a good listen and kept me interested and laughing till the end.
"Jon Ronson tells it as it is"
This book, written by Jon Ronson, manages to enter the psychy of the extremists he is looking at. He has a rare gift of being able to enter arenas where others wouldn't dare (read his other books to e.g. the Psycopath tests and Men who stare at goats). Not only does he enter these worlds but he still somehow remains quite a humble guy. His style of writing draws the reader in. We listened to this audio book whilst driving in France and we didn't want to stop for coffee because we didn't want to switch off the book. Definitely a good read/listen and I would certainly (and do) recommend his books widely
"A Scary Ride to where "We" Become "Them"!"
You have to admire Jon Ronson for his courage in mixing with Islamist extremists, the Klu Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists and... David Ike. What's even more astounding is he is Jewish!
Jon's guileless narration draws the listener in, so I became convinced "either he's lying, or the victim of an elaborate hoax - or there really IS a conspiracy of powerful elite -called the "Bildeberg group", who meet up in secret to rule the World". Moreover, it seemed that the only good guys fighting this evil conspiracy most of us have been brainwashed by the media into dismissing as "extremists".
Moreover, many of the people he meets are quite companionable, from the jocular Islamist Jihadist, to the self-effacing Grand Master of the Klu Klux Klan, who has banned the use of the "N" word.
This is a very entertaining book, with a serious message. Who is evil is in the eye of the beholder. This is a journey into a mirror image world of paranoia, conspiracy and suspicion that everything we think we know is wrong, and all our treasured beliefs are only what we are brainwashed from birth into thinking. It's a scary ride to the other side - where "We" might really be "Them".
This was the first book I read by Jon Ronson so it's always had a special place in my heart. Years on it's still as brilliant as I remember, especially now hearing the author narrate.
The world has changed a lot since this book was written but rather than being dated it's an interesting flashback to extreme politics and conspiracies theories, pre-9/11.
Later events have put a very different complexion on the subjects of this book. Some positive, some negative but it's a fascinating listen throughout.
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