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The Men Who Stare at Goats (Unabridged)
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The Men Who Stare at Goats (Unabridged) [Audio Download]

by Jon Ronson (Author), Sean Mangan (Narrator)
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 15 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 30 Oct 2008
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002SQ35PQ
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
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Product Description

This book has been chosen as Jonathan Ross's first read for his Twitter book club.

Britain's funniest and most insightful satirist reveals extraordinary military secrets at the core of George W. Bush's War on Terror.

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weirdness in fatigues 27 April 2008
An enjoyably light read that doesn't try to over-claim for what is quite a slight piece of investigative journalism. The style is similar to Louis Theroux: ask innocent sounding questions, and let people talk. And quite soon you're thinking...are these people for real? In this case that's a pretty serious question, because these people are in charge of the most powerful military in the world. But in the end, too many questions are left unasked, never mind unanswered.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not funny 15 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" is a book by Jon Ronson. The author has written several books on religious cults, conspiracy theories and other absurdities. He has also made TV documentaries on the same subjects. "The Men Who Stare at Goats" is arguably Ronson's most bizarre book ever. In fact, it might be the most bizarre book ever written.

The first part of the book is hilariously funny, so funny that I almost laughed out load when reading it at my favourite café and, later, at the metro. People must have wondered what the hell I was up to! Apparently, several high-ranking members of the US military believe in paranormal phenomena. They have attempted to create the ultimate soldier, a soldier with supernatural powers: invisibility, the power to walk through solid walls, killing people just by staring at them, etc. Some of these ideas originated with a New Age hippie who wanted the US military to become more peaceful and friendly. His ideas were seized upon by other operatives, more interested in "the dark side".

Are we to believe Ronson, the military actually recruited a number of "psychic spies" who attempted to kill goats just by staring at them (one of them says he can kill hamsters, too). They were also supposed to spy on Panama's then-dictator Manuel Noriega, a former CIA asset who later had a fall out with the US authorities. Noriega apparently believed in occult powers himself, and tried to defend himself from the psychic spying by erecting a crucifix on some distant shore in Panama. One of the clairvoyants later ended up at a mental institution, while another became a big star on Art Bell Show. Ronson also writes about his own experiences interviewing these somewhat shadowy characters.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
This is written as a documentary exploration of some truly bizarre forms of research into alternative forms of killing, torture and manipulation by various governments, mainly US and UK. While similar to a Michael Moore exposure, it's also so close to a novel that it's hard to tell whether this is truth or fiction (take Moore's Sicko and add in The Constant Gardener).

The book investigates forms of development of the human brain usually associated with the personal development movement, but applied to military and government control. From staring at goats (to kill them) to walking through walls, this covers a number of esoteric development skills. The reporting lists interviews with people purported to be involved in this research, and interweaves well-documented cases that add semblance of veracity to these reports. But the evidence is thin.

As a light-hearted holiday read, this deserves marks for an imaginative overview of potentially crazy investments of public funds. As an investigative journal, this is light on evidence and poorly organised to prove a point. Read it and laugh, and suspend belief.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware the Goats 15 Aug 2005
Jon Ronson is probably better suited to the medium of text than the airwaves. His previous book, Them, was both a successful and interesting book, and an interesting TV programme. The only problem being that as a presenter Ronson is just not as funny or masterly as he appears in print.
This is his second outing in the world of the bizarre and deluded. Whereas 'Them' dealt with the world of extremists, from the militia men, ku klux klan of the USA to our homebread extremists, Men Who Stare At Goats deals with the US army's willingness to use all methods to secure victory in the cold war. All methods.
This extends to the training of the psycorp - a group of men being specially selected and trained to be able to walk through walls, stop the heartbeats of animals by a glance and become invisable (the title refers to the experiments carried out by these men on goats - I would like to say no animals were harmed in the making of the book, but you will have to read it to find out)
All of the wealth of information that Ronson provides is delivered in a trademark jaunty and incredulous style, which mixes healthy sceptisism with a willingness to believe the incredible. It makes for a very refreshing read in an area of science that is too often the reserve of those even more paranoid and crazy than the members of the psycorp.
The only criticism I have is that Ronson narrowed the field of inquiry so much that the book begins to drag. It becomes obvious that the US Army did little more than flirt with these ideas, and that they remain in the realm of fringe belief. He does hold out the hope that a pinch of the mind techniques are real.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
My son recommended this book. I have to say I found it hard going and abandoned it three quarters way through. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Phil Larkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Different
A good read. Thought-provoking and funny, would also recommend, how to spot a psychopath by the same author. Set a bit of time aside to read though as its not a light read
Published 18 days ago by Carol
2.0 out of 5 stars What is this about!
I have not yet finished this book and find it hard going I will persevere and get to the end- one day
Published 1 month ago by a shelverton
4.0 out of 5 stars Walking through walls
Fantastic book (if you have seen the film, the book delivers the humour and more, providing more detail about the strange characters within). Read more
Published 1 month ago by Queen Herod
5.0 out of 5 stars I adore Jon Ronson!
I was introduced to him whilst travelling Asia, by an Aussie. Which is weird considering I'm British and he's effectively been sitting under my nose the entire time. Read more
Published 2 months ago by AmazonAddict
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging and humourous take on a challenging topic
Well worth the read - although the book jumps around quite a bit chronologically, the build up of the themes and the journey from the frivolous to the serious and back again is as... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Katie
4.0 out of 5 stars Prepare to simultaneously laugh and despair
A fun read and almost as good as is best work in "Them: Adventures with Extremists". in any other book the jumps in topic would be a bit hard to take, but here it just adds to the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by P. J. Dunn
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, a very compelling read
A great book, I laughed at the absurdity throughout the first half and gasped at the more sinister nature of the second. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Genna
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is an absolutely AWESOME book.
Whilst reading it you have to keep stopping to remind yourself that this is not a fictitious book.
Highly recommended.
Published 4 months ago by MISS C M MOORE
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying, and prescient
Jon Ronson's treatise on psychic spying has been somewhat diluted by its fictional film version, which conflates and dilutes many of the characters and episodes that feature in his... Read more
Published 5 months ago by N. Clarke
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