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Them: Adventures with Extremists

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  16,290 ratings  ·  1,116 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
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Paperback, 328 pages
Published February 8th 2002 by Pan Macmillan Ltd. (London) (first published 2001)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  16,290 ratings  ·  1,116 reviews


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mark monday
ST

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 misunde
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Petra-X
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
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Greg
Oct 06, 2008 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
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B Schrodinger
Oct 24, 2015 rated it liked it
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
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Donna
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tania
Jul 31, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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? ...more
Mon
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Greg
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oriana
Aug 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
I don't know how you are keeping your head up in the cacophonous hell-vortex that is American politics in the year of our lord two thousand seventeen, but the way I am doing it is by getting all my news from one Wonkette, a gloriously foul-mouthed political site that brings an hourly dose of shrewd political analysis served up with a healthy patina of cursing and a fervent dedication to dick jokes. Here are a few recent favorites:

Donald Trump’s Base Weak, Flaccid, Shriveled, If You Know What We
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Zuky the BookBum
I’ve only ever read half of another Jon Ronson novel, but I knew from a few pages in that I preferred that half to this whole novel. That’s not the say this one wasn’t entertaining, but the witty and awkward Jon we met in The Psychopath Test didn’t seem to translate into this book quite as well.

I really wanted to love this book but it didn’t grab me quite as much as I’d hoped. I found the plot of conspiracy theorists and the Bilderberg Group really intriguing, but it didn’t actually work so well
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Mike (the Paladin)
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,
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Pavle
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: džep-toalet-bus
"One thing you quickly learn about the extremists is that they really don't like being called extremists. In fact they often tell me that we are the real extremists. They say that the Western liberal cosmopolitan establishment is itself a fanatical, depraved belief system. I like it when they say this because it makes me feel as if I have a belief system."

Džon Ronson je podjednako lud koliko je i hrabar. Napisano sa strašnim smislom za humor, Ronson ovde „izveštava“ kako je pričao sa neo-nac
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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
THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.

I thought Them was frequently clever and often ironic, but never laugh-out-loud funny. The book gets off to a r
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Jim
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
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Nick
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves conspiracies, secret groups and British humor!
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!
Laura
May 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a good book to read at the end of 2016, a year in which previously outlandish and extreme views became mainstream (Brexit) and the role of facts in political discourse became hazy.

Published back in 2001, it’s Ronson’s first book, and some of the chapters - particularly those researched and written before 9/11 - seem to come from a halcyon and innocent time. Imagine a time when Omar Bakri and Anjem Choudhary could be considered by anyone as nothing more than mischievous buffoons. Or a t
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Christy
"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
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Melissa
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very twisty book as the author spends time with a Muslim Extremist, Ruby Ridge survivors, at Waco, with Alex Jones, the Klan, Aryan Nation, the IRA, and a few others getting into their headspace & ideas. Some seem crazy, some crazy like a fox, but many share their own conspiracy theories with Ronson and he attempts to track down the secret room full of "rulers of the world" that quite a few of these groups fear. Read by the author on audio which I fully recommend.

Side Note: This book was publish
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Jennifer
This book would have been a lot more amusing if I'd read it when it came out rather than this year, when it seems the conspiracy theorists are gaining the upper hand. That said, it's a fascinating look at the ways in which extremist thought intersects across the political spectrum. Or is that what 'they' want us to think? Hmm.

Anyway, I'm glad I read this, but I think I need something really grounding to read today. Like, I don't know, The Lord of the Rings or something.
Tim Pendry

This is ultimately a rather disappointing book. My review comes after a second reading a decade and a half from its first reading. The first third was better than I remembered and the last two thirds much worse.

Taken together, it is a series of picaresque adventures by a rather slippery Jewish journalist dealing with 'extremists' who are treated comically, albeit at times with grudging respect. There is no analysis, no context, just entertaining vignettes with, admittedly, a few laugh-out-loud m
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Ryan
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read similar books to this one - Evan Wright's Hella Nation, Louis Theroux's The Call of the Weird. I notice Theroux's blurb is prominent on the cover, perhaps to pre-empt the obvious comparison. Theroux credits Ronson as an inspiration, which is a mixed blessing: he copied Ronson's schtick, yet ended up better known for it.

Their subjects are the same: survivalists, conspiracy wonks, Neo-Nazis. Ronson goes a step further, spending over a year in the company of Islamic Extremist Omar Bakri,
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Simon
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Again @jonronson proves why he's one of my favorite writers. THEM is a fascinating journey in conspiracies--what is real and what is fantasy--and the people who believe them. Of all his books this is most draining. The dogma that the people featured in the book is depressing. It is mentality taxing to wrap your head around belief systems that more complex than the simple truth in most cases.
Simon Maginn
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Clare
Listened to in audio format.

Jon Ronsen is a British Journalist/Documentary maker rather like Louis Theroux.

In Them: Adventures with Extremists Jon investigates the KKK, David Icke and the shadowy Bilderberg group. This was a fascinating book, stamped with Jon's gently mocking style of writing.

We meet the Grand Wizard of the KKK will not let his members say the N word or wear the hood or robes during meetings. David Icke who was humiliated on the Terry Wogan chat show for claiming the royal famil
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Blair
I read this when it was first published in 2001 (I was 17) and thought it was fantastic. Reading it again in 2009 (aged 25), I feel a little bit different. On one hand, Jon Ronson is a very good writer; his style is simultaneously hilarious and poignant, and he lampoons his subjects in an affectionate matter while making some very salient points about the dangers of both paranoia and complacency. On the other, I feel that some of the topics covered don't sit very well with the generally humorous ...more
Becky J
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Tristan
This was a fun read. Ronson hangs out with religious, political, and racist kooks and writes about it... how could that not be fun?

But I do have a couple gripes:

1. The dialogue is so well-timed and witty that I feel like Ronson took a lot of liberties with what was actually said.
2. I didn't understand the point of some chapters. Why write a chapter about an eccentric rich man buying Nicolae Ceausescu's stuff?
3. I couldn't help but compare Them to The Unpersuadables by Will Storr, which I enjoye
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Chris Kelly
Nov 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprisingly gripping and entertaining page turner, which offered a funny and insightful view into one of the world's biggest conspiracy theories.

Is the New World Order working nefariously behind the scenes to stack the deck against working people across the world? Probably.
Are we really being ruled by a race of 12ft tall blood thirsty lizards? Probably not! But the truth is always stranger than fiction and Ronson seems to have had a great time trying to find it.

An effortless and tho
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Kater Cheek
I listened to the amazing audio short "the butterfly effect #1" by Jon Ronson and I didn't want the magic to end so I went to audible to see what else they had by him. This was the best on offer, since I've already read/listened to The Psychopath Test.

The magic of Ronson's work is that he is so polite and nebbishy, competely at odds with the rather intense figures he interviews. In this work, he interviews an Islamic fundamentalist, the Grand Wizard of the KKK, the editor of a radical right-wing
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Jon Ronson is a writer and documentary filmmaker. His work includes the international bestsellers Them: Adventures With Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats, which was adapted into a major motion picture starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges.

A contributor to The Guardian, Ronson is the author of the columns "Human Zoo" and "Out of the Ordinary". He writes and
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