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Them: Adventures with Extremists

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,438 Ratings  ·  666 Reviews
From the bestselling author of The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

A wide variety of extremist groups -- Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis -- share the oddly similar belief that a tiny shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, journalist Jon Ronson has joined the extremists to track down the fabled
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2001)
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Freakonomics by Steven D. LevittStiff by Mary RoachA Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonThe Ecological Rift by John Bellamy FosterGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Interesting and Readable NonFiction
69th out of 593 books — 330 voters
Naked by David SedarisThe Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo MartinezSquirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David SedarisSleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike BirbigliaThe Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
This American Life
17th out of 99 books — 40 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
Aug 25, 2014 mark monday rated it it was ok

What is the Bilderberg Group? Is it a self-interested but vaguely benevolent private club composed of international movers & shakers who come together annually to discuss "government and politics, finance, industry, labour, education and communications"? Or is it a nefarious group of power brokers and nation breakers - the Secret Rulers of the World?

Who is David Icke? Goofy New Age conspiracy nut who believes our leaders actually belong to 1 of 16 sinister alien-reptile species? Or a misund
Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it really liked it
This is real gonzo journalism, Jon got in there and got down and dirty and didn't always reveal that he was Jewish. (Most extremists and conspiracy theorists have a strong hatred and fear of Jews or 12' shape-shifting lizards - which are possibly the same thing). The book is a little uneven and some of his adventures are more interesting than others. I suspect some of his columns have been added in to pad out the book.

What is quite interesting is that there is some truth in all the conspiracy t
Oct 06, 2008 Greg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining look at the world of people who believe that the world is run by a small group of evil people hidden away someplace. A lot of the people in the book come across like absurd wing-nuts, in a more lovable way than I imagine they are in real life.

Of course my one problem is that this book doesn't even touch upon the real dangers facing the world. While the Bilderburg Group and crazy Owl / Druid sacrifices are being done by people like Kissinger and Bush, and yes some of them are in
Jan 27, 2012 Donna rated it really liked it
This book was full of answers(1) to questions I can't bear to admit I've asked myself. Ronson interviews, hangs out, and even lightly conspires with different sectors of the population who see themselves as victims of 'Them'. The details of the world conspiracy differ. It depends whether you're a white supremacist, or an anti-semite against the world lizard conspiracy (yes, real lizards, not metaphorical lizards), or a survivalist Christian with white-supremacist ties. The divisions go on and on ...more
Brendon Schrodinger
So my Jon Ronson binge read carries on as they ae an easy and engaging read when you are busy.

This volume, one of Jon's earlier books, sees him hanging out with various extremists. Is it anything new to read now? Not really. But at the time of publication it may have been. Now it is easily trumped by Louis Theroux documentaries and Will Storr's Heretics: Adventures With The Enemies Of Science.

The book didn't alter any of my opinions at all. Conspiracy nuts are conspiracy nuts. But I did learn
Jul 01, 2011 Mon rated it really liked it
I mean, duh, we all know the Bilderberg isn't running the world (as Wikileaks has proved by publishing their most boring meeting recordings ever), but then who is?

Why is there no data of China's military spending? How come the average age in Russia is so much higher than the rest of the world? Is Glenn Beck a lizard? Who's controlling the chupacabra? Is Hollywood a Jewish conspiracy? Is that why Michael Bay keeps doing sequels? Is the Transformer actually a symbol of satanic worship? Is there w
Jan 23, 2008 Greg rated it it was amazing
This is a fabulous romp through various extremist groups. Ronson writes with flair about his encounters with various Islamic, right-wing, and left-wing whackos. The most humorous are his encounter with David Icke, the UFO conspiracist. David Icke thinks that the world has been taken over by shape-shifting reptilian aliens. The Anti-defamation League thought that it was code for Jews. Icke gets detained by Canadian border officials, when he tried to enter the country to attend a UFO conference. T ...more
Jon Ronson hangs out with various people who have one thing in common - they believe that the world is controlled by a shadowy cabal of powerful people (many of them Jews) who decide the fate of the world. According to this grand conspiracy theory, the "secret rulers" engineer the elections of heads of state, start and end wars, have people assassinated, etc.

The title Them has a dual meaning. It refers to the people who believe in this world conspiracy and those who supposedly are its members. R
Jun 18, 2007 Christy rated it really liked it
"Them" consists of journalist Jon Ronson's encounters with extremists of various stripes - a British Muslim extremist, a KKK leader, several believers of complex conspiracies and others.

I loved how a subject is treated with a deceptively light touch by Ronson. The book is certainly quite humorous in spots though there are also several uncomfortable, even tense sequences, especially when some of the extremists learn or suspect of the author's own Jewish heritage.

Most of the extremists are egot
Mar 20, 2013 Joanne rated it did not like it
This could have been a really interesting book. As it stands, it's a series of disjointed essays about unusual groups and individuals: pseudo- or real anarchists, racists,terrorists, etc. We don't really know if they are what they claim to be because Ronson doesn't go much beyond their claims about themselves.

There is some good material here but it is inadequately linked together and includes virtually no analysis, no historical contextualization, no corroboration or's mainly in
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoyed The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry, but sadly did not feel the same about Them. I thought the first chapter was funny, but it quickly went downhill from there. The connections felt forced and convoluted. Maybe I'm just not paranoid enough?
Dec 29, 2007 Nick rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loves conspiracies, secret groups and British humor!
Shelves: non-fiction
I truly enjoyed reading this book. I heard about it from Coast to Coast AM when Mr. Ronson was interviewed by George Noory. He described the incident from the book where he ended up at an extremist camp surrounded by Islamic extremists working toward the Islamification of Britain. When they discover he is Jewish the response is intriguing. The whole book is well worth a read. I still pick it up to read random chapters even now!
Evan Leach
In Them, Jon Ronson’s second book, the author dives deep into the world of conspiracy theories and extremists. His subjects include Islamic fundamentalists, racist groups like the KKK and Aryan Nations, Bilderberg crusaders like Jim Tucker, paranoid talk radio personalities, and even a man convinced that the rulers of the world are truly giant lizards in disguise.

img: Killer Croc

I thought Them was frequently clever and often ironic, but never laugh-out-loud funny. The book gets off to a r
Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 04, 2012 Mike (the Paladin) rated it it was ok
Can I please have a half star system????? Or a 10 star system????? Yeah, I know. Then I'd have to back and re-rate every book I've rated and probably update all the reviews. It would be a hassle, but then I wouldn't have to struggle with some of these ratings.

I'd give this one 2.5 stars. In most cases when I reach a 2 star rating it means I've pretty much decided I don't like the book, but it has something that requires I not give it the bottom of the well, 1 star. Maybe the prose has been good,
Simon Maginn
Jan 25, 2010 Simon Maginn rated it it was amazing
Jon Ronson has the most lovely written style. He is one of just a handful of writers I am aware of who knows how to be sly. He achieves his considerable results by underplaying, understating, and refusing always the easy option of mockery or condemnation. His subjects are some of the most colourfully insane characters you will ever read in fiction - except that they are, almost unbelievably, real. This book is a marvel, an eye-opener, an education. And he contrives to be funny, without really ev ...more
Karl Krekeler
I heard about this book on an episode of This American Life and I thought I'd give it a try.

This book is... interesting to say the least.

It reads like fiction, and the ideas put forward are so ridiculous that you can't help but think that it is, indeed, fiction.

First off, the author is a Jew. Not such a big deal until you discover that he hangs out with the Ku Klux Clan, Neo-Nazis, and goes to a Jihad training camp, just to name a few.

It is eye opening to see that the people that Ronson writes a
Jul 27, 2011 notRahimeanymore rated it it was amazing
Fascinating, and weird. I loved it. I had never heard of most of the 'new world order' conspiracy stuff (or of any of these people, except Randy Weaver), and I really appreciated how the author avoided making any of his own judgments about the people he was writing about/interviewing - there's a lot of 'then this happened, and then this person said this' and I found that much more effective in highlighting the craziness than sensationalizing it and putting his own spin on it would have been (and ...more
Feb 20, 2008 Leah rated it it was amazing
Having read Louis Theroux's Wierd Weekends, I was prepared for something quite similar. I thought Them would be another series of short stories, but it was different to what I expected. I really enjoyed Jon Ronson's style of writing, he seemed very aware about the subject and that he might be putting himself in danger by discussing the people he had met and the conversations he had with them. The chapter on Ian Paisley was interesting, I suppose because he would be the person I know most about f ...more
Apr 02, 2008 Alexander rated it liked it
Recommends it for: journalists, extremists, the curious, the inquisitive
Shelves: nonfiction
I like finding a good "journalist goes out in the world to do some good" story, and Them satisfied my desire completely. While he's busy writing and recording everything he can about the extremists he's studying, Ronson also manages to do something I find relatively unique. Or rather, he manages not to do something; he doesn't judge them. At least, he doesn't do it when you're looking.

These people might be wacko, they might be sane, they might be evil, they might be good, but they are people, an
Michael Burnam-fink
Aug 20, 2014 Michael Burnam-fink rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, non-fiction
I love love love the paranoid fringe. Every Friday is FriDDEEEES!!! on Facebook, where I post one of the delightfully insane artworks of paranoid antisemitic David Dees. So this book is a natural fit.

Ronson spent a long time hanging out with figures on the extremist fringe, Thom Robb of the KKK, Rachel Weaver-survivor of Ruby Ridge, Omar Bakri-Osama bin Laden's man in London, Alex Jones of Infowars and many others. The idea was simple, hang out with lunatics, let them explain how the world is c
Brian Clegg
Aug 16, 2014 Brian Clegg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went straight onto 'Them' having torn through Ronson's brilliant 'The Psychopath Test' and I wish, in a way, I'd read them in the opposite order. This is without doubt a really interesting, and funny book - but it doesn't have the same gut impact of the other title.

Don't get me wrong, Ronson manages once again to portray remarkable people with the same kind of slightly suspect innocence that Louis Theroux uses on TV - so we meet everyone from an Islamic extremist to Ian Paisley, via David Icke
Apr 28, 2015 Tom rated it really liked it
Jon Ronson must be one of the most fearless men alive. In this book, armed only with a good deal of persistence and his (extremely British) self-deprecating wit, he befriends and follows around conspiracy theorists, KKK members, Al Quaeda sympathizers and anti-semites of every stripe and variety. He also, while he's at it, attempts to infiltrate the secret, heavily guarded annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group and the somewhat less heavily guarded occult rites of the Bohemian Grove.

The result i
Jun 14, 2014 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction
You know, I was actually expecting this book to have a pretty serious tone. But instead, I wound up chuckling most of the way through it. The same way you watch a stupid TV show and can't honestly believe that some of these people actually exist. (Looking at you, Alex Jones. We'll get to that later.)

A little background. In the late 1990s – early 2000s, Welsh journalist Jon Ronson swanned around the world investigating various groups of extremists, a practice he'd continue when he started researc
Sep 01, 2015 Mia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Loved it! Ronson's tone is hilarious and his approach to journalism is far more gutsy than I'd ever dare. I think humanising rather than demonising people who have, let's be honest, pretty wacky or downright disgusting philosophies is a great approach. Not enough journalists bother to respectfully investigate individuals or group they disagree with on an idealogical level; not once did it read as though Jon Ronson was a white-supremisit/muslim-extremist/anti-seminist/general-conspiracy-theorist ...more
Craig Morland
Jan 04, 2016 Craig Morland rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Really well read by the author in his nice nebbish manner.
Sep 18, 2014 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic-issues
I enjoyed Jon Ronson’s 2011 foray into the world of psychopaths and special interest groups out to protect or demonize them, and this seemed like a good book of his to read next. Though published in 2001, just before 9/11 and the Bush and Obama presidencies drove conspiracy theory and anti-government groups to new levels of hysteria, it’s an enlightening window into how fringe groups form around certain rallying ideas and code words.

As advertised, Ronson discovers that Islamic extremists in Brit
Joely Black
Aug 27, 2011 Joely Black rated it liked it
First researched during the 1990s, before 9/11, Jon Ronson details his journey through the world of "extremists", or rather conspiracy theorists and the people they theorise about. In the same style of comedy journalism as his other books, Jon Ronson has a knack for picking out the humour in every situation he encounters. This tends to reduce everybody to the same bumbling humans and levels out the playing field.

Ronson spends time with various people, including Omar Bakri, considered a dangerous
Jan 26, 2010 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it it was ok
Ronson goes around with various political radicals and conspiracy theorists in this book. Islamic radicals, Randy Weaver, Alex Jones, David Icke, a KKK leader that won't say the "n word", a guy that stalks every Bilderburg meeting and more. While at times grudgingly admitting that there is something to what most of these people are getting at when he is confronted with undeniable truths he obviously set out to mock everybody he dealt with.

Ronson is a Jew so he is most concerned with any hint of
Richard Bartholomew
Is there is a secret room from where the world is ruled by a secret elite? Jon Ronson meets a range of people who think so, and describes his encounters in a series of essays that, while humourous and with a keen sense of the absurd, give much more than just mockery and debunking.

Encountering militia members affected by the tragic mishandling of the Ruby Ridge standoff, Ronson can empathize with their reaction to the tragedy and how it was covered by the MSM; travelling with the right-wing consp
Feb 26, 2012 Ensiform rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The author, an intrepid reporter, details his interviews and meeting with several extremists of the world, including a London-based Muslim whose goal is the overthrow of all secular Western governments; Randy Weaver (who seems to be a fairly normal guy, actually --- the feds really, tragically fucked up on that one); a KKK Grand Wizard who’s trying to polish the KKK’s image, some very humorless Aryan Nations skinheads; radio personality Alex Jones --- who’s made out in the book to be a paranoid ...more
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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 c
More about Jon Ronson...

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“They can’t shit on us,” said Alex. “That’s really what I’m saying. You can’t shit on us anymore.” There was a silence. “I just want them to stop shitting on us,” said Alex. “OK,” I said. “Sorry.” 3 likes
“(What Jim had seen tallied with studies conducted after the Second World
War by the military historian General S.L.A. Marshall. He interviewed thousands of American infantrymen and concluded that only 15-20 per cent of them had actually shot to kill. The rest had fired high or not fired at all, busying themselves however else they could. And 98 per cent of the soldiers who did shoot to kill were later found to have been deeply traumatized by their actions. The other 2 per cent were diagnosed as ‘aggressive psychopathic personalities’, who basically didn’t mind killing people under any circumstances, at home or abroad.
The conclusion—in the words of Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman of the Killology Research Group—was: ‘there is something about continuous, inescapable combat which will drive 98 per cent of all men insane, and the other 2 per cent were crazy when they got there’.)”
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