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)
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
First off, I'd listen to Ronson read the Dictionary. His dry wit, timing, and inflections are incredible. You feel as though he's reading to you, personally. This is a pre-9/11 book, but much of what it deals with is still relevant today. Ronson has this incredible knack for taking subjects that aren't very funny AT ALL (i.e. a Muslim extremist threatening to put a 'Fatwah' on him), and finding the humor in it.
This is light reading at its finest. You may learn a bit about some of the extremists in the world, but nothing you probably couldn't have figured out on your own. The true joy of this book is the way that Ronson brings you into the story, keeps you constantly laughing, and delivers you on the other side, unscathed.
We need more social satirists like Ronson. He's truly one of a kind!
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.
Designer/Artist - I listen to books while I work. True Crime / Non-Fiction Auto Bios / Sci-Fi / Favorite authors: Orson Scott Car, Kurt Vonnegut, Truman Capote, Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, Augusten Burroughs
Yes. Jon Ronson is a really entertaining writer and narrator. Some of the scenes were really well described and I felt as though I was in the scene. He unfolded the information in an interesting way and shed an interesting candid light on all of the characters he followed and interviewed.
Ruby Ridge Details was the most interesting and shocking. Omar Bakri and his hypocrytical life was the least interesting, but I guess part of that is because Ronson was shut off from being able to interview him.
I didn't like it quite as much as the psychopath test, but it was definitely highly entertaining and a book I will always remember.
I laughed a couple of times. Also, some of the scenes described were really unbelievable, so I guess maybe "shocked" would be a good description of my reaction.
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.
This journalistic effort was an entertaining listen, but not the best I've read by Ronson. I like the fact that he narrates his own story, and think it adds to the performance.
Jon Ronson's narration. Typically I speed up my audible narrations, but this is more like a performance. Ronson gave a TED talk where you can sample his performance style (re: the Psychopath Test) if you're on the fence.
The writing and narration. I wish I could articulate this better, but the way Ronson interacts with his subjects is wonderful. His approach is gentle and inquisitive which opens his subjects up to be who they truly are--the result of which is we're able to connect* and identify with people we'd otherwise compartmentalize as crazy or, per the namesake of the book, 'them'.
For instance there's a great scene where an Islamic radical, Omar, describes his daughter's name as translating to 'The Black Flag of Islam'. Ronson is taken slightly aback, prompting Omar to claim that their cultures will never understand each other. Five minutes later they're watching The Lion King on VHS while Omar bounces his daughter on his knee singing 'Hukuna Matata'.
(*We're able to connect in small doses)
There is a scene where a KKK member is speaking in public and attempting to promote white love instead of black hate--re-branding if you will. However 'attempting' is the operative word because after he's met with the sneers of protesters his vitriol bubbles up and spills out in a diatribe of bigotry which may not seem all that funny (after proof reading this review I'm suspicious how well I've sold it) but Ronson absolutely nails it. I've forced friends to listen to this scene alone.
I make art, music and videogames. I am interested in technology, culture, knowledge, existentialism and progressiveness.
Yes, it is very entertaining and at times disturbing.
Jon Ronson's other works.
He's always good, same here.
The truth and fiction behind the worst imaginings of paranoid thinkers
I laughed, I cried, I was terrified. This book runs the gamut of emotions and changed my outlook on the construct of our existence forever.
in the minds of the madmen.. lies a thick streak of utter banality.. spending a day with one of the 'them' is a lesson of intrigue & the ridiculous.. i can't decide if it is safe to only see the humour of these subjects.. or that it is funny that i'm not more scared
I love John's stories , I love his laugh even better .
I fell off my chair with laughter a few times .
This book (a series of articles, really) is a fascinating look into the world of extremists and conspiracy theorists. Ronson is funny and a little off-kilter. He makes me laugh out loud, and then makes me shake my head at some of the people in the world.
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