Them: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson

A book by gonzo journalist Jon Ronson is anything but boring.  Like everything else I’ve read from him, this one is funny, it’s absurd, and it’s thought-provoking in ways you’d be hard-pressed to explain to someone else.  But I have to admire his audacity.

The concept behind this one is that Ronson spends time with the leaders of various extremist groups, getting to know them and trying to figure out the story behind the story.  To his astonishment, he discovers that the one thing they all seem to have in common is that they all believe the world is being controlled by a secret cabal, and they all want to take over.  On one hand, it’s comforting that none of these groups are in on that secret cabal.  But what Ronson wants to know is simply this: if this secret group is meeting in a secret room somewhere, where exactly is that secret room?

Seems like such an obvious question, doesn’t it?  And the answer is even more obvious, because none of the “secret societies” are all that secret… but they are “private.”  Maybe Ronson doesn’t go nearly as deep as he could with this topic, but the truly amazing part is how these extremists come across as considerably less dangerous and more cartoonish than perhaps they might be in most situations.  It’s the sort of thing that has to be experienced to be believed.  With that in mind, put on your tinfoil hat and prepare to journey behind some closed doors.

4 stars

ronson-them

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