Entertaining and alarming in equal parts, this is a true account of the US military's experimentation with the supernatural.
In 1979, a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US army. Defying all known accepted military practice - and, indeed, the laws of physics - they believed that a soldier could adopt the cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren't joking. What's more, they're back and fighting the War on Terror.
©2004 Jon Ronson; (P)2005 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
"Simultaneously frightening and hilarious." (The Times)
"Few more earnest investigative journalists would have had the brilliant bloody-mindedness to get what he has got and hardly any would have the wit to present it with as much clarity." (The Observer)
"A hilarious and unsettling book." (Boston Globe)
I was considering watching the movie, and read a review for it saying that, of course, it wasn't nearly as good as the book. It went on to say that the movie was based on a non-fiction book, which I found very intriguing. I was not disappointed. It was well worth the credit.
Jon Ronson's writing style is priceless. There's a tongue in cheek tone throughout the book, though the author manages to pay the subject matter enough respect to not alienate believers. Just the facts, ma'am.
Sean Mangan does a magnificent job of narrating, complete with appropriate voices. His "mispronunciation" of several words jabbed at me a bit. It's almost as if he over-articulates at times (pronouncing "again" as "ay gain" instead of |əˈgen|) or says words as a computer's text to speech feature might (pronouncing "Maryland" as "Mary Land" instead of |ˈmerələnd|). Otherwise, he was a joy to listen to.
There are plenty of "holy crap" moments as we learn some things that went on, and continue to go on in the psychic realm of the U.S. Military. The author spent a little too much time telling the story about the shameful acts at Abu Ghraib, but it was a story that needed to be told. A little discomfort on my part is a price I'm willing to pay.
Some of the first-hand accounts of the author's personal experience with some of the military specialists was mesmerizing, especially a moment that felt to be straight out of science fiction, when the author was psychically thrown across the room.
Very well done, and highly recommended.
This book was very entertaining. I started listening and before I knew it I had listened all the way through. The title does little to express the entire scope of the book. But it does set the stage for just how fringe the world of investigation could be. This book is strange, funny yet intriguing.
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
Characters seemed a little less colorful than other Ronson books. There were also main players in remote viewing that I wish he could have gotten an interview with/spent time with. I read this book after "psychopath test" and "them", so I was expecting the same razzle dazzle. Of the three books this one is my least favorite. Also I wish Jon Ronson had narrated it like the others. He adds so much to experiencing his books when he reads them...much like david sedaris and bill bryson.
Listen to/ Read more Ronson and books that he mentions....
It was interesting listening to this book after hearing coast to coast broadcasts on the topic of remote viewing for so many years and seeing other sides to those guests. Also, I was shocked when I heard the link between Stubblebine and heaven's gate......and disgusted by Stubblebine's dismissiveness of any responsibility. This is why I love Ronson. I was too young to have been conscious of what was going on in the 90s and no one talks about these events anymore. The truth is shocking and I for one am glad to be reintroduced to these things through Ronson's interviews and research.
I have an undergraduate degree in philosophy and a Master's Degree in Professional Writing from Maharishi University of Management, am author of THE RELUCTANT VEGETARIAN COOKBOOK, and am an avid reader/listener.
I almost didn't buy this book because reader reviews complained about mispronounced words and a diversion about modern day torture, which one reviewer described as filler for the lack of data about the main topic. However, as it happens, the illiterate ones were the reviewers because the reason for differently enunciated words is that the narrator is BRITISH. Rather than mispronouncing words, he was speaking English possibly more precisely than the average American.
I also didn't find anything off-topic. The more I listened, the more impressed I became with the excellence of the writing. To fully appreciate the book, the reader must understand the difficulty Ronson faced in researching and explaining such an obscure, easily misunderstood, topic. Anyone who has ever tried to get accurate information from the kinds of people he was dealing with will be impressed. The lengthy details about the torture might seem off-topic to the casual reader but were very relevant, even necessary. They explained how "alternative" military methods have evolved from the original ideas of the First Earth Battalion, and the present state of such methods--all examples of excellent writing.
Reviews from those who mistake scathing criticism for intelligent critique say more about the reviewer than about the book, so if you can bear to hear the facts about military "intelligence," by all means, download this book.
This was definitely an entertaining listen, but at times I did wander whether the author may have lacked subject matter to fill a whole book... Sometimes the story wanders off track a little (or a lot) and it ends up being a long list of interviews with all sorts of whacky characters (and at times not very believable claims)... Fun, but take it with a grain of salt...
I am an Australian woman who enjoys reading many different styles of books, from history to sci fi and mystery to poetry. I also love to listen to the same whilst not paying attention to other things. I aim for my reviews to be short and succinct so that they are easy to read.
I bought this title because I had been meaning to read the book before watching the movie. I had heard that bothe were great. I will watch the movie one day I am sure, but the book? Such a very tired premise. I was so bored and so not amused. We all know that poking fun at military intelligence services has been done to death. If you have read this sort of this before don't bother, if you haven't this may be a good place to start. I am again wishing for half stars because the story and overall scores are worth 2.5 stars. Another average offering.
The reason I call this a profoundly underrated book is because within it lies the truth of how the various secret agencies of our government have used their carte blanche finances and veils of secrecy that are intended to defend us to devise unbelievable ways to control and manipulate our minds as well as the enemy's.
This book is not like the silly little movie. This book contains the real players real names. I think the movie was a deliberate attempt to poo poo this book to the degree that people poo pooed the movie. So that we don't read the book and open our eyes to what has really been happening. The names and stories in this book are all real. As unbelievable as that may seem, these things really happened. I know this for a fact.
The information in the book itself will show you how the absurd comical twists of its presentation, and our perception that it is a silly little expose, lead us to disbelieve, or worse, believe and then be entertained by the criminal abuses that have been going on behind the door of classified secrecy. This traces connections of the people involved in the abuses of the illegal tests of LSD on the public from the early Bush CIA all the way through to the Bush torture and other abuses of power after 911 and during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. And it still goes on today.
Hidden behind the unbelievability of the absurd ideas presented here lies the truth about the human impulse to "do good" and how the fruits of those impulses can be twisted by ignorance, fear, military power, blind order following, mistakes and human failings, so that the very opposite of what was originally intended happens instead. War instead of peace, suffering instead of freedom.
I began being entertained by this book and ended with a huge knot in my stomach after absorbing the reality of what this story is about and how the very fact that I was entertained by it scares the @#%* out of me. What does this say about me? What does this say about us?
In order to really get this, notice how the names all tie together to create a constant command of psychological control. Also, if you choose to read this book, relax and enjoy it's entertainment value. Then think about that after you know the end outcomes of the story.
Sean Mangan did a fine job of narrating this fascinating & utterly bizzare true tale.. yet.. i would love to hear Mr Ronson read it in his own unique way.. having all Jons' other audio books.. i have grown quite fond of his style.. his writting comes across wonderfully.. though i would hate to miss any slight nuance of inflection intended.
Lots of information.
Like always Ron Jonson does a great job investigating and following down leads and getting information. He does jump around a bit and doesn't tie some loose ends together, but with this kind of information I'm not sure if anyone could tie all the loose ends together.
I missed the author reading his book, knowing that an English speaking person wrote the book puts you off with an American reader. Plus there were gross mispronunciations of words that can distract from the information.
I love learning about the dirty little secrets of the American military/industrial complex. It usually takes about 40 years for info to get out and by then they can just say, "Well, we no longer do things that way." This is even though every few decades something else is found out. When are people going to realize that the secrecy of 'classified' allows them to do whatever the hell they want to do with no consequences later except for a slap on the wrist.
I never read the book so I can't say. But, I did enjoy it thoroughly.
The mix of crazy characters.
Hard to say, there were so many,
Zen and the US Army
I guess I will have to see the movie but I doubt it will live up to the book.
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