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The Last Days of August

Narrated by: Jon Ronson
Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
4 out of 5 stars (12,348 ratings)

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Go Behind the Scenes with Jon Ronson

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He has made a career of crafting compulsive tales about people on the fringes…Ronson’s blend of empathy and dry wit have given listeners and readers fascinating glimpses into can’t-look-away subcultures.

- The Globe and Mail, on Jon Ronson
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Our favorite moments from The Last Days of August

An onslaught of online hate
The issue with reporting discomfort
Jon voices his concerns.

  • The Last Days of August
  • An onslaught of online hate
  • The Last Days of August
  • The issue with reporting discomfort
  • The Last Days of August
  • Jon voices his concerns.
Jon Ronson

About the Creator and Performer

Jon Ronson is a critically acclaimed journalist, author, and screenwriter who has contributed to publications and broadcasts including This American Life, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, The Guardian (UK), and BBC Radio 4, for which he produced seven seasons of the award-winning program Jon Ronson On…. His full-length nonfiction novels—So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, The Psychopath Test, Them: Adventures With Extremists, Lost at Sea, and The Men Who Stare at Goats—have been translated into over 30 languages; many of them have been international best sellers and New York Times best sellers. Ronson’s original screenplays include the Netflix original Okja and Frank, which received the 2014 Best Screenplay Award at the British Independent Film Awards. He has also appeared on a number of shows as varied as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Conan, Craig Ferguson, Inside Amy Schumer, and The New Yorker Radio Hour. In 2017, Ronson created and recorded the Audible Original series The Butterfly Effect, a highly-rated production that spent weeks on the top of the audiobook charts and was honored as a finalist for the 2018 Non-Fiction Audie Award.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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a healing masterpiece

Thank you for putting The Last Days Of August together... It was extraordinary - a solid masterpiece that I feel I was specifically meant to hear at this point in my life. I personally survived that world (I'm an ex pornstar who was extensively bullied - along with my parents - by industry figures on the venue where you located Shazia Sahari's name - I had that venue, which is a racist and homophobic hate crime, in the court system all last year), and managed to leave with my sanity. Your piece provided closure for me on a few things I'd forgotten about. The interviews were amazingly honest and revealed the truth about more than I can convey in this review...
I would encourage anyone considering a career in pornography to listen to this. I'd also encourage anyone working within the industry OR who's left to listen to this as well.
Again - thank you.

93 of 98 people found this review helpful

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Butterfly Effect meets Publicly Shamed

This is a great real life mystery that went somewhere different to what I expect. Well worth the listen.

'The Last Days of August' is somewhat a joining of who of Jon Ronson's previous works, 'The Butterfly Effect' and 'So You Have Been Publicly Shamed'.

In 'The Butterfly Effect' Ronson investigated the porn industry, looking at the changes that have come about due to the internet, and particularly due to the change from paid sites to a large amount of free sites.In 'So You Have Been Publicly shamed' Ronson looked at people who have been shamed online or cyber-bullied, due to innocent mistakes, poor jokes, or sometimes for genuine, monumental stuff ups. It looked at how the internet pile on is returning to the public shaming of old, and how in most cases it is not beneficial, useful, or proportional for the size of the stuff up.

Here Ronson combines the two elements to look at the public shaming and pile on of a porn actress, leading her to take her own life. This leads to her husband, Kevin, calling people out online and starting a cycle of shaming and bullying. Ronson investigates to find out where all this shaming and call outs started, and where it leads. He tracks down 'missing' people and slowly ekes out lots of contradictory information from the industry.

Was it really the twitter pile-on that started this?

Audible provide a warning in the blurb, It's at the start of the audio too, but I'll say it again here: this audio contains some very frank discussions on suicide, bullying, sex, porn etc. It does not shy away from it. It shines a light on some of the best and worst parts of the porn industry (more so the worst). It uses strong language. If you have a problem with any of that, this is not for you.

Ronson interviews the victim's husband, as well as many others involved in the industry - including many of those who undertook that public shaming. One of the main people blamed, Jessica Drake, is very clearly distraught at the thought she has something to do with it, and is sorry for any involvement. But those interviews lead to others which leads him down a trail deeper into the depths of the porn industry to find issues much greater than the cyber bullying of one person.

This is an audio program - sound effect, music, interviews, audio excerpts etc. It is not a straight reading of the text, like to might find with most of Ronson's books. Ronson narrates his own books, and here he leads the audio production. He is the guide between all the interviews and excerpts, the investigator following the leads to where they go.

The audio is generally really good. Occasionally the music is mixed a little too high, considering Ronson is fairly softly spoken. Several of the interviews are not the highest quality audio recording, and there are some live parts from industry events with crowd noises or cheering in the background, but generally it is of a good quality. There are also some interviews with August Ames prior to her death, which Ronson uses but obviously didn't make himself and thus would have had zero control over. All this considered, the audio is good quality and is mixed well together to make it very listenable (even if at times it's not easy to listen to, due to content).

Fans of Ronson, or fans of true mysteries will enjoy.

93 of 99 people found this review helpful

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Interesting Story

Tragic tale of a young lady. Well told and documented from all angles. appreciated the spoiler that the husband did not do it, that fact put the facts and my attention in the right mind set.
An in depth look into a dark but popular world along with the people involved, although this darkness is not limited to this world.
Still, a tragic ending to a life, many lives.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Jon Ronson at his best

A deep dive coda to “The Butterfly Effect,” Ronson moves from the macro of Porn after Internet to the micro with the story of a single woman’s tragic death and it’s relationship to the internet and the broader porn world. Ronson zero-ins on her marriage with his totally unique blend of empathy, obsession, doggedness and grace. He turns the true crime genre on its head and he and his producer, Linda Misitzis have crafted a new type of long form non-fiction journalism that transcends the episodic format of the podcast but pulls you along with well placed refreshes of information to help you reorient in the soundscape of the real life porn community in crisis. In a crowded space of audio journalism about tragedy heading towards cliche and insensitivity, Ronson and Misitzis have thread the needle in an exceptional and revealing way.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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A strange listen that accomplished nothing

I felt dirty listening to this at times. There really doesn’t feel like there is much of an actual story here. We’re left with a troubled girl and a guy who may or may not be a bad boyfriend/husband. Dissecting Kevin’s life doesn’t seem fair after the fact when the one person who could really comment isn’t here to do so. Jon Ronson and team does his homework well and covers all of the bases you’d expect but at the end of the listen there’s really nothing to tell except a broken girl committed suicide. There isn’t an eye opening moment that’s going to cure suicide in the porn industry, there’s no real moment that even answers what August’s motivation really was (outside of an accumulation of emotional trauma). We’re left dissecting Kevin who may be guilty of being an emotionally distant husband. I’m left at the end of this production asking why and wondering what was actually accomplished with this story. The only answer I’m left with is nothing.

66 of 78 people found this review helpful

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Captivating story but don’t expect a resolution.

I really liked this but I do feel that Jon’s feelings regarding certain people because of their personalities can sometimes cloud his judgment. You aren’t necessarily guilty of something because you see a reporter as adversarial and you aren’t one of the “good guys” because you cultivate a positive relationship with him. I think that Jon sometimes extends his empathy to the point of bias towards those he finds likable and reserves the guy punch hard questions for those he doesn’t. From a reader/listener perspective it’s sometimes frustrating to witness Jon not asking the questions you would have of somebody he has empathized with.

I think many people would react the way August’s husband did towards Jon and the people around her in the industry. I don’t think he’s a saint, but it isn’t unreasonable to try to create distance between somebody you care about and the toxic people and drug culture they may be surrounded by. Even the story of him being controlling because she gave her male “friend” the cold shoulder in public seems a moot point considering that same guy confessed to being secretly in love with her and wanted to be with her. It doesn’t seem unreasonable that a man wouldn’t like some male friend whom he rightly suspected of trying to get with his wife buzzing around her. It’s also not unreasonable to develop an antagonistic relationship with a reporter if you are hearing through the grapevine that he seems to crafting a hit-piece about you. In the end, it wasn’t a hit-piece but it was a bit too focused on one individual. How should a person react if they had reason to believe that’s what you were up to with your story?

August’s brother raised some questions too and I don’t think Jon focuses enough on just how dysfunctional that family seems to be just because he got along well with Jon. At one point we hear about her father, who sounds like a horrible person, and how that may have impacted her life and mental state. Even her brother doesn’t describe him very kindly. Yet, it seems as though the supportive brother still has a relationship with him when he talks about their phone conversations and he even expressed pride in having his father’s family name. Which is it? I know families are complicated but it just seems like despite his disagreements with his father he fell right into pointing the finger everywhere but at his family and seemed hellbent on placing blame anywhere but dear old dad. He had a list of the culpable and he just kept reaching for new ones. The pornstar on Twitter, the Russian porn actor, the producer, the husband. The actions of August’s father were far more egregious and at a far more formitive time in her life but her brother seems desperate to stick his head into the sand. It was frustrating that Jon didn’t press him on that contridiction in his role as a source of support and stability in her life. It’s sad to see genetic loyalty turn people into such defense attorneys for the awful humans that raised them that they can’t even fully commit to support a sibling who is seeing the situation clearly by holding their parents to some level of accountability.

All in all, don’t expect a resolution. It’s a real life story which means few people will accept responsibility for their roles and a whole bunch of finger pointing at others. There are no clear good guys or bad guys here, just people with their own baggage and not a lot of introspection. It was fascinating but ultimately only as a study of human behavior at it’s most defensive. Everything is muddy and grey and it’s an industry filled with broken people from broken families, and a story about both leaves you feeling like none of these people seem comfortable with a long look in the mirror when blaming others is an option.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Interesting

Intriguing story, highlights the complexity of human relations and interpretation of events. Definitely shows how emotion and time can change things. Also highlights how only knowing parts of stories changes how we see things.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Dirty Little Secrets of Porn

As a person who has only ever been mildly interested in porn (ahem), I never really considered the private lives of the performers. I just assumed it was easy money for people who lacked the talent to break into mainstream movies. Now that I know the prevalence of mental illness, sexual abuse, and drugs in that industry, I doubt I'll casually browse the sites again anytime soon.

Jon Ronson has what I found to be an annoying whispery voice. It would have been better if he'd let his producer, Lena narrate it. When she talks at the end, it's a lot better.

If you ever been curious about the inner workings of this particular industry, this is worth listening to.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

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  • AD
  • 01-06-19

Doesn’t get anywhere

Some interesting conversations but the story does not really get anywhere. Seems like police aspect of the situation is also overlooked.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Intriguing

That was a quick book!
I was engaged from the first sentence to the conclusion. Although I am satisfied that her husband didn't actually put the noose around her neck, he didn't help her in the least.
I know what it's like to have an "absent" husband. It makes a girl feel disconnected. I also have a "roommate" relationship with my husband. I hope this speaks to the absent husbands, and makes them either appreciate their wives or release them. Then they can bloom into what they should be instead of their internalizing all the wrong in their lives.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Donna
  • 02-15-19

excellent

jon ronson is fantastic, i hung on every word and if i thought id missed something i quickly went back and relistened. the investigation that he underwent is compelling with all aspects looked into.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • MR R S BROOKES
  • 03-31-19

An interesting journey

Overall, an interesting listen. I got through it in a single session as it wasn't too long. I enjoyed the twists and turns that the real life story took and felt I gained some insight from it.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-23-19

Tragic and addictive

Jon Ronson has crafted an addictive and saddening look at the pervasive misogyny of the porn world and it's many victims.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-13-19

brilliant, insightful and profoundly sad

another great piece by Mark Ronson. an excellent refection on the impact the porn industry has on the young women working in it. an excellent piece that is better understood within the context of the #metoo movement

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  • Katie M. Little
  • 03-12-19

Wonderful Podcast ❤️

A wonderful podcast series that investigates with empathy and intelligence so many complex subjects - mental health, suicide, relationships & the porn industry. ❤️

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  • MR Mick BYRNE
  • 02-26-19

deep insight into a murky world by Ronson,

fascinating insight into mental health problems by Jon Ronson. was hooked from the first chapter

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-07-19

Thoughtful and thought-provoking

Well researched and conceived
A respectful, non-salacious look at the reasons for a young porn star’s suicide

NOT a true crime thriller - but a psychologically fascinating look at human nature

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  • Tami Sussman
  • 02-03-19

Yassss Jon

Interesting story, engaging, moving , enlightening read by Jon himself whose soothing voice makes me feel like the world is going to be a better place.

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  • Hilary Ann Post
  • 01-24-19

Amazing

Jon Ronson does it again! Very impressed with this heartbreaking yet nuanced look at a complicated situation.

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  • heather gauld
  • 01-24-19

Great podcast

This story was really interesting and good quality and I hope audible does more podcasts.