Book Review: Them by Jon RonsonPosted: March 2, 2014
One of my favourite books that I read last year was The Psychopath Test, and so I was keen to check out more of Jon Ronson’s stuff so I snapped this up eagerly when I saw it in HMV especially as it dealt with conspiracy theories, which is something that interests me despite the fact they mainly baffle me.
Ronson spends times with Islamic fundamentalists, separatists, the KKK and others who are convinced that the world is ruled by a group of shadowy figures who meet in secret to decide the future of the world. Ronson writes in a wonderful manner which recognizes and relishes the absurdity of some of the theories he encounters, but at the same time he finds himself getting sucked into it.
He worries he’s being followed while on the trail of the Bilderberg group in Portugal and goes to investigate the mysterious “owl ceremony” held annually by the great and good believed to be at the centre of the conspiracy.
Ronson’s writing zips along with wit and energy, and while he clearly despairs and loses patience with some of his subjects he’s never overly harsh on them and it’s often their own flaws that prove their undoing. In fact he even deals with some of them with an odd affection, they may hold ridiculous beliefs, some even offensive ones, but Ronson warms to them, there’s sympathy for these outsiders throughout, with the barbs only reserved for the truly odious.
As expected some of the characters he meets along the way are oddballs, from the temperamental and insensitive Ian Paisley who he finds preaching in self-imposed exile in Cameroon to David Icke and his theories of reptilian overlords.
All may agree that someone is pulling the strings behind the scenes, but they argue over who- space lizards, the Catholics, the Jews, big business. The Anti-Defamation League contends that most are blaming the Jews through the use of code words and while the “international bankers” as code kinda works I get the impression that Icke genuinely believes it’s space lizards.
Ronson sketches the players well, showing great insight into those he meets and little moments that show their flaws, failings and real feelings. It’s an interesting insight into prejudice, paranoia and conspiracy theroies which kept me entertained throughout.
Verdict: An entertaining and engaging look into the different theories of who rules the world. Ronson’s writing is light and easy, but gifted with wit and insight. Definitely worth a read even if it can’t quite match The Psychopath Test in the fascinating stakes. 8/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.