Nicole's Reviews > The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson
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's review
Mar 05, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: nonfiction
Read from September 22 to 30, 2010

I had this book on my radar because of a review I saw soon after it came out, long before they made the movie. But I saw the movie before I got around to buying the book. I liked the movie a lot; it made me laugh.
[later] I felt compelled to do some research while reading this book. I looked at Jim Channon's and Lyn Buchanan's websites; got Google pages full of results for "remote viewing", "PsyOps", and other terms and people; and saw that Amazon sells copies of Lyn Buchanan's and Joe McMoneagle's books, as well as what's supposed to be a printout of Jim Channon's "First Earth Battalion" report to the Army.
Any good idea can possibly be warped into something dangerous. There are always people within any large group who are willing to try anything, so I believe that people within the government and the military have considered an idea like remote viewing for their arsenals. I know how certain sounds I consider unpleasant affect me, so I believe that prisoners have been subjected to sounds or music. But there are a lot of things that no one can prove or disprove in the book. Channon, Buchanan, and others may be sincere...or they may be crazy...or they may be con artists. While there is a weird fascination factor to reading the stories of people far out in left field, we can't know if they're true; and many of the folks featured in the book are downright shifty. There are people who believe in remote viewing even though none of the visions they, or people they know, have had ever came true. There is no proof that anyone ever stared a goat--or even a hamster--to death. It's like any other matter of faith--it requires faith, because you can't prove it.
While Ronson's attempt to tie certain events to Channon's "FEB" writings is interesting, I think he spent too many pages on the mystery of what happened to Eric Olson's father. Ronson certainly showed how Eric's life had been taken over by the mystery; but the teenage bike trip story and some of the rest of it seemed more like a tangent. The end of the book sort of fizzles out.
About the movie: Consider the movie "inspired by" the book. Certain parts of the book--mostly the funnier incidents--were incorporated into the movie's plot. People's names were changed in some way; people's actions and attributes were blended to create movie characters; and events were created to further the plot. Ronson never got to tag along with anyone on a trip to Iraq and never engaged in any daring escape attempts.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Craig (new)

Craig I enjoyed the movie as well. Interested to see what you think of the book.

message 2: by Craig (new)

Craig 3 stars. Not as good as the movie, then?

Nicole I didn't think so. Review coming soon...

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