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on 24 June 2017
An interesting and thoughtful treatment of a very dark subject. Not in any way an academic tome but rather an almost light hearted and entertaining read. I found the book a real page turner which raised significant questions about the ways in which we and society in general arrive at judgements about the minds of others and how we try to categorise their various states. For me, personally, I found it served to reinforce my long held view that there simply are no 'normal' people.

This same viewpoint can be illustrated in other ways - for a much less serious and entirely fictional approach one might try:
Apocalypse Sundae
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on 22 September 2017
Entertaining but poor if you want to seriously study the topic of psychopaths. Ironically the book seems rather psychopathic itself, and is essentially shallow, manipulative, and very unscrupulous in many ways as I somehow get the impression that the author is himself.

With a quick google search you can read Robert Hare himself expressing doubt about Jon Ronson's journalistic integrity and honesty, and also expressing doubt as to the accuracy of other things he wrote as well. I couldn't help getting the feeling that he plays up to a kind of naive and nonthreatening nice guy persona (like Louie Theroux he disarms people with his apparent innocence) when at the end of the day he is a rather ruthless and dishonest journalist.

The entire premise of the mission to root out psychopaths in the highest positions in society is bizarre as he goes around reading to people character traits from the psychopathy check list and asking people to just tell him verbally, point blank, if they possess these particular traits, in some instances for example saying ‘how would you feel if you saw a picture of a face blown apart’ then basing his assumptions as to whether the man in question is a psychopath on the interviewees answers. Although it seems as if hes building towards a climax at which the whole case will be blown wide open its very halfhearted, and fizzles out, certainly not a serious attempt to research the subject of psychopathy, and will be interesting only to those -like the author himself apparently- who have never properly studied the subject before.

The 911 truth thing was strange, as I am not sure what it had to do with psychopaths (though much of the book has nothing to do with psychopaths) but as he talks about the 911 truth movement’s lack of empathy I couldn’t help feeling like he was somehow attempting to subliminally conflate the 911 truth movement and its members with psychopathy!

Whether you believe 911 was an inside job or not, in true fox news style he chooses to focus on the biggest loon and nutcase he can find and attempts to associate the entire 911 truth movement and their arguments with that one man, and some other anti-Zionists on an internet forum while completely ignoring the actual evidence and thousands of qualified architects and engineers who speak out rationally against the official story.

Like I say rightly or wrongly whether you agree or not with 911 truth, a good journalist should not simply cherry pick the information that suits him and should present a balanced perspective of both opposing points of view.
I would suggest everyone do their own research with regards to AE911 truth and make your own mind up, but it’s truly bizarre how much of AE911 truths arguments he chooses to omit and utterly ignore.

Many people have gone after the 911 truth movement but they at least seem to actually willing to engage with the opposing sides argument. His behavior would suggest he knowingly and purposefully avoids engaging with the actual issues and instead just resorts to ad hominem attack tactics, basically dismissing the entire movement as a bunch of loons, while focusing on debunking the craziest theories that the extremist elements of the movement have to offer.

I dont think the man is anywhere near as ignorant or naive as he portrays himself either on the subject of psychopaths or AE911 truth.
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on 26 June 2017
I love Jon Ronsons books, i read this a few years back, and have since listened to it again on Audible read by the author.
he writes with a brilliant, personal anecdotal voice, sometimes so gently and flippantly, you forget that he is actually talking about some of the most extreme violent voices in the world.
I have to say the audiobook version is actually a better way to hear Jon ronson's books just from the manner in which he reads them.
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on 27 November 2015
I'm a big fan of Jon Ronson's work, and have gone through his books in reverse chronological order. This is one of my favourites. The use of "adventures" in the title is no exaggeration. The book is non-fiction but it is as exhilarating as a novel. He meets genuinely unlikable and awful people... yet as with all his books Ronson humanizes them and allows the reader to better understand what makes these monsters - Islamic fundamentalists, Ku Klux Klan people, and conspiracy freaks.
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on 2 June 2017
Fascinating tracking the Psychopath test. Especially fascinated by the man who faked being one to get out of prison, and then couldn't get out of the secure institution he was placed in. Was he a psychopath, or not....
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on 13 June 2017
Overall this book is interesting but the part I found really fascinating was around how so many of the classifications of mental illness and their treatment came about (basically a load of people in a room throwing ideas in). However I can find Jon Ronson's writing style to be a bit wearing after a while, there are only so many times I can read about someone "narrowing their eyes" before it loses its shine but overall I would recommend this book to anyone interested in how we have reached the state we are in now. People can no longer just be a bit odd or eccentric, we have to label everything which seems a bit of a shame.
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on 11 May 2011
Conspiracy theorists have a field day whenever a massive world event occurs - they rarely take anything on face value, preferring to think that shady government spooks are behind all the world's ills (and not just most of them). Back in the 90s and early 00s Jon Ronson went on a voyage of discovery to try and understand exactly who "they" were. This group were feared and hated by extreme groups of all types; left, right, religious and secular. What made this group of shady businessmen so evocative that such a diverse group would be after them?

Ronson is a great writer combining intelligence and humour in equal measures. He is able to describe his visits with the various extremists with a straight face (pen), but easily undermines them by writing a knowing observation now and again. These observations are the key to why `Them' works. Ronson is not so much laughing at the extremists, but merely pointing out for all their vitriol and bluster that they are merely human, and amongst the most flawed at that. I can't imagine many of Ronson's interviewees have read this book and look upon their portrayal in a good light, this a class of person who has mostly lost their sense of humour and take insult easily.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about `Them' is the light nature of the book. Written just before September 11th 2001, the book seems to tackle subjects such as terrorism on an almost trivial level at times. In hindsight, Ronson may have produced a far darker and thought provoking book, but he was not to know that landscape of world politics was about to change. Ronson does mention the likes of Waco and the Oklahoma bombings in the book; he perhaps should have realised that the type of person he was gently jibing could become the next mass murderer. As it is, the lightness of the book is used to pose some interesting questions in an approachable way. A good book that dated slightly almost instantly on release due to unforeseen world events.
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on 13 December 2015
No other book I've read can un-nerve me and make me laugh the way Mr Ronson manages to with his books. The human side of THEM was a revealing read! Infuential, informative and underlyingly terrifying (when you really think deeply about it all!)
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on 6 July 2017
I was unsure when I spotted it but felt strangely drawn to it and I have to say I'm glad I downloaded it. You get to read about some fabulous characters and interesting stories. It was a great read which when I had to put it down I then couldn't wait to pick up again.
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on 31 August 2017
An interesting read with some insights into the psychopath mindset. I think we're all somewhere on the spectrum. What's disturbing is how many children are diagnosed and now drugged up for bipolar disorders.
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