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Them
Adventures with Extremists
Jon Ronson
read on January 1, 2016

I expected this to just be a description of many different extremist groups. And at the base level, it is. Ronson hangs out with extreme islamists, gun crazy isolationists, white supremacists, etc. The narrative loosely revolves around an investigation into the Bilderberg group, which many of these extremist groups seem to believe are a secret organization running the world. He spends a lot of time with these people, getting to know then, describing their beliefs. He never excuses them. He never says that it's okay to share their opinion, and never describes their positions in a sympathetic way that would encourage others to follow on. But he also doesn't ever call them stupid, or make fun of them.

But, somehow, he does get the reader to build a sense of empathy for these people. At various points in the book, it starts looking pretty convincing that these Builderbergers do actually secretly run the world. The brilliance of the book is in how well it demonstrates how different people can come to different information based on the same evidence. It's very well done. It also sheds some interesting light on the people who actually do run the world, the Bilderbergers and their ilk. I often wonder how at what point in my life impostor syndrome would run out, and I'd actually become a real adult that knows what I'm doing. By the end of the book, I think Ronson does a fine job of showing how no one, not even presidents, really have an idea what the hell is going on.

I dug it. I feel like everyone is a bit better off reading this book.

Author Bio:

Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary film maker. His books, Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare At Goats were international bestsellers. The Men Who Stare At Goats was adapted into a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges. He's written the popular "Human Zoo" and "Out of the Ordinary" columns for The Guardian, where he still contributes features. He currently writes and presents the twice Sony nominated BBC Radio 4 series, Jon Ronson On...