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“Them: Adventures with Extremists” by Jon Ronson

Thu 6th August 2015

Them: Adventures with ExtremistsThem: Adventures with Extremists by Jon Ronson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Them is Jon Ronson’s exploration of the groups of the world that believe that there is some form of shadowy cabal that secretly runs the world. These are the folks that most would dismiss as crazy, paranoid conspiracy theorists, but Ronson gives them a voice and it makes for fascinating reading.

Ronson’s style is a little disjointed, sometimes jumping to recount a story that is not entirely clearly connected to the previous. Thematically though it largely hangs together to form a coherent story. The emphasis is on the existence of the Bilderberg group, but we also get introduced to rival Klan leaders, a British Muslim funding war overseas, David Icke and Dr Ian Paisley. Amazingly, Ronson bases his writing on interviews or adventures with all of these, rather than second hand reporting, which makes the book all the more compelling.

I think Ronson could have tied things together a little better, and perhaps better made the point I think he was aiming for: lots of groups with radically opposed ideologies think there’s a self-appointed secret world power, suggesting that if they perhaps put aside their differences and worked together they might find evidence to convince the rest of the world. However, I think he also touches on the reality that the activities that these groups perceive as secretive manipulation are actually just glimpses of the political equivalent of the extra-curricular activities those in any other profession would partake in. This is best demonstrated in the grand finale when Ronson attempts to infiltrate and view the owl-burning ceremony that takes place at Bohemian Grove.

Them is definitely a set of interesting stories, that will make you consider the workings of global politics and business from a slightly different perspective. The narrative could flow a little better, but it is written well enough for this not to be jarring. If conspiracy theories intrigue you at all, you will enjoy reading Them.

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