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Them: Adventures with Extremists

Written by: Jon Ronson
Narrated by: Jon Ronson
Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Them began as a book about different kinds of extremists, but after Jon had got to know some of them - Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen - he found that they had one oddly similar belief: that a tiny, shadowy elite rule the world from a secret room. In Them, Jon sets out, with the help of the extremists, to locate that room. The journey is as creepy as it is comic, and along the way Jon is chased by men in dark glasses, unmasked as a Jew in the middle of a Jihad training camp, and witnesses international CEOs and politicians participate in a bizarre pagan ritual in the forests of northern California.

Them is a fascinating and entertaining exploration of extremism, in which Jon learns some alarming things about the looking-glass world of ‘them’ and ‘us’. Are the extremists on to something? Or has Jon become one of Them?

©2012 Jon Ronson (P)2012 Audible Ltd

What the critics say

"A funny, superbly controlled account of [Ronson’s] wanderings through the wonderland of fanaticism and delusion." (Brian Appleyard, New Statesman)
"This book is chilling and hilarious by turns. Ronson’s trademark laid-back attitude is a delight." ( Independent)
"A funny and compulsively readable picaresque adventure through a paranoid shadow world." (Louis Theroux, Guardian)
"Ronson plays up to his charming buffoonery... But he is an acute social commentator. He is compelling." ( Times Literary Supplement)

What listeners say about Them: Adventures with Extremists

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One of Ronson's Most Compelling Listens

If you liked 'The Men Who Stare at Goats', or enjoyed 'The Psychopath Test', you must definitely check out Jon Ronson's 'Them'. Ronson is at his gonzo journalistic best in this story, as he goes about, covertly infiltrating and reporting on the paranoid and the extreme. The narrative is extremely fair and non-judgmental, even when Ronson finds himself on 'the other side of the looking glass'. One of my favourite turns of phrase is included herein (and I'm paraphrasing, as I don't have the exact quote in front of me): 'It's a good thing I don't believe in the secret rulers of the world. Just imagine what the secret rulers of the world would do to me if I did.'

1 person found this helpful

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A real gem

I loved this book. It was a breath of fresh air in comparison to the stuff I’d been listening to. Jon narrates his work perfectly. Super interesting subject matter and told with a good humoured bent but not demeaning by any means. Brilliant.

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  • Nothing really matters
  • 2015-05-24

Bilderberg or Build-a-Bear?

This book is a collection of several very interesting snapshots of people society has labeled extremists. They seem to be the sort of people James (The Amazing) Randi called 'believers' since they will follow ideas that appeal to them unquestioningly and regardless of how strange or extreme they sound to others.

Some of these folks are stranger than others, but most suspect the world is controlled by the secretive (and seemingly asinine) Bilderberg Group. They believe the Bilderberg Group is run by 'the Jews' or 12-foot tall reptilian aliens and is determined to set up a nefarious one-world government.

The book brought home to me the other side of the 'Ruby Ridge' incident through Rachel Weaver's version of the events. The book also illustrated the, perhaps unsurprising, fact that the players on all the various sides are guilty of serious departures from the truth and character assassination.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a fairly balanced-seeming glimpse into the strange and sometimes surprising world of extreme beliefs.

16 people found this helpful

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  • aaron
  • 2012-09-26

Dated but VERY Good... and FUNNY!

First off, I'd listen to Ronson read the Dictionary. His dry wit, timing, and inflections are incredible. You feel as though he's reading to you, personally. This is a pre-9/11 book, but much of what it deals with is still relevant today. Ronson has this incredible knack for taking subjects that aren't very funny AT ALL (i.e. a Muslim extremist threatening to put a 'Fatwah' on him), and finding the humor in it.

This is light reading at its finest. You may learn a bit about some of the extremists in the world, but nothing you probably couldn't have figured out on your own. The true joy of this book is the way that Ronson brings you into the story, keeps you constantly laughing, and delivers you on the other side, unscathed.

We need more social satirists like Ronson. He's truly one of a kind!

49 people found this helpful

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  • Mishka Haznor
  • 2012-09-30

Serious Topics Shown in multiple lights

Would you listen to Them: Adventures with Extremists again? Why?

Yes. Jon Ronson is a really entertaining writer and narrator. Some of the scenes were really well described and I felt as though I was in the scene. He unfolded the information in an interesting way and shed an interesting candid light on all of the characters he followed and interviewed.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Ruby Ridge Details was the most interesting and shocking. Omar Bakri and his hypocrytical life was the least interesting, but I guess part of that is because Ronson was shut off from being able to interview him.

Have you listened to any of Jon Ronson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I didn't like it quite as much as the psychopath test, but it was definitely highly entertaining and a book I will always remember.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed a couple of times. Also, some of the scenes described were really unbelievable, so I guess maybe "shocked" would be a good description of my reaction.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Diane
  • 2013-06-04

Conspiracies R Us

Although it has been more than a decade since this book was written, it remains as mind-boggling as when it was first published. Here, Ronson delves into Islamic fundamentalists, David Icke with his theories about reptilians in control of the planet, the Bilderberg Group and the shenanigans at Bohemian Grove.
We are often left wondering who the real extremists are: Is it David Icke who maintains that world leaders are really reptilians in disguise or members of the JDL who insist that "reptilian" is code for "Jewish" ("No, he really means 'reptilian'" Ickes' followers claim)? Is it the Weaver family holed up on Ruby Ridge or the quasi-military force that took them down (a very sad episode)? Part of what makes Ronson's writing (and excellent narration) so compelling is the way he juxtaposes the ordinariness of every-day lives of these people with the often bizarre extremist views they hold.
A both informative and very enjoyable listen.

14 people found this helpful

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  • karen
  • 2013-08-25

Way fun but shocking

Would you consider the audio edition of Them: Adventures with Extremists to be better than the print version?

Yes. Absolutely love Jon Ronson reading his works. You just cannot beat hearing his inflections on these incredible interviews. Shocking. Fun. Witty. Fresh!

What other book might you compare Them: Adventures with Extremists to and why?

Men Who Stare at Goats. Why? It's just unbelievable that these are based in reality. Hang on and prepare to be shocked but also to laugh at just how ridiculous these tales can be

Which character – as performed by Jon Ronson – was your favorite?

Jon Ronson. For sure

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Disbelief mixed with great chuckles

Any additional comments?

Read it. Witty and just great

5 people found this helpful

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  • Dr. Michael Toney
  • 2012-10-02

Them and Terrorism

What did you love best about Them: Adventures with Extremists?

As with all Jon Ronson books, this one was truly pleasurable in audio format—he should offer his services as a professional reader in addition to his writing career. I commend him on his bravery in interacting with “them” and maintaining an unbiased and sometimes amusing (how can you wage Jihad if you can touch a fish), perspective. For me this book was important because it provides a different perspective on my research on terrorist organizational behavior and leadership (ISBN-13: 978-0615687391). While it’s difficult to view the world from the perspective of the extremist, it’s imperative to understanding why they do and behave the way they do. I recommend this book to those interested in the behaviors of individuals and groups, particularly as an alternate reference when researching terrorism.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Jon
  • 2012-11-19

Riveting

What did you love best about Them: Adventures with Extremists?

This is a book that could not have been written post 9/11. The access Ronson had to these extremists is amazing. In today's world he would likely have been picked up by Homeland Security or the TSA at some point. Well worth the read.

Have you listened to any of Jon Ronson’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Reading his own work Jon Ronson brings his quirky personality to life through his performance. I feel strongly that non-fiction authors should read their own work wherever possible and Ronson delivers in spades.

7 people found this helpful

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  • anthony
  • 2019-12-24

Decent Story

Jon Ronson should stick to writing. His voice isn't pleasant or compelling. Fairly interesting story.

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  • Heidi
  • 2013-03-03

Meh

What disappointed you about Them: Adventures with Extremists?

Besides the section on Ruby Ridge I didn't like this book. It wasn't really what I expected.

What was most disappointing about Jon Ronson’s story?

How he bowed down to people that were obviously hateful toward him.

What three words best describe Jon Ronson’s performance?

The performance is what kept me listening. He's a great reader, his humor is great and his timing is awesome. Just wish he had some backbone.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment mostly. I understand journalistic integrity but there comes a point where you should be a human being. I think the worst part is when he let that poor man go be publicly humiliated after he expressed to him that it was his worst fear. That was horrible.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Dubi
  • 2016-04-13

The Lunatic Fringe

Around 20 years ago, gonzo journalist Jon Ronson embedded himself with a series of figures on the lunatic fringes of politics and society, including a young radio host specializing in extreme conspiracy theories by the name of Alex Jones. Ronson went in with Jones to expose Bohemian Grove, a forest retreat for the world's rich and powerful, where supposedly pagan rituals took place as the participants planned their means of world domination. Cut to today, where Jones has become mainstreamed, helped elect a president, and came full circle by getting himself banned from social media platforms for his continued espousal of lunatic and fringe ideas, most notoriously saying that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged by actors. Fortunately, other figures Ronson wrote about in 2001 got nowhere near that far, like the self-proclaimed son of god claiming that the world was run by giant shape-shifting alien lizards. What makes these stories work so well is the way Ronson inserts himself into the world of people who should be wary of him. He has a way of portraying himself as naive, and he has a way of seeming sympathetic enough to be trusted, even though some of the people he embeds with should hate him for being Jewish, like the would-be pre-September 11 jihadist, a klan leader, and the aforementioned lizard guy, the belief being that when he says lizards he really means, you guessed it. Add to that Ronson's own narration of his work, which perfectly conveys the tone that wins the trust of his subjects. He is always engaging, often hilarious. His books really are a treat, even if some of it is, beneath the humorous tone, quite scary.

5 people found this helpful