Them: Adventures with Extremists

In Them Jon Ronson spends a few years hanging round with people considered extremists.

He begins with Omar Bakri, who he says is labelled as “Osama bin Laden’s man in Great Britain”. This was pre-2001 mind you. He also goes to meet the Conservative MP trying to get him denied citizenship. It’s soon clear that both sides are right-wing idiots.

Some of it is at least humorously stupid though. For example at one of Omar’s rallies they plan to release blank balloons carrying postcards containing a call to war against the West. Unfortunately the postcards are too heavy and so his follows spend a fruitless day trying to waft the balloons into the air. It sounded very Four Lions.

He goes to visit Ruby Ridge, or at least would have done if such a place existed. Turns out the media just merged the names of the two closest places when they turned up to report on the US government killing half of the weaver family, coincidently (so I assume) just before Wacko happened.

He follows David Icke around. You know, the man who thinks that the people running the world are lizards. Actual lizards, that disguise themselves as humans. You might also remember him as the man who declared he was the son of god and predicted earthquakes and other natural disasters on the Terry Wogan show.

Unfortunately the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) think that he uses lizards as a codeword for Jew. Thus you get a very rich, powerful organisation bullying a man who almost is almost certainly mentally ill. It feels like everyone comes out a loser in that one.

He goes chasing after the Bilderberg Group, which was probably pretty secret when the book came out, but now has an official website and Wikipedia page. Though it’s not all clean fun as they did actually seem to follow Ronson around for a while.

He even follows Ian Paisley around on a preaching tour of Africa. He seems to hate everyone and have a terrible sense of humour. Though I am sure most people had guessed that already.

There is no coherent narrative or structure to this book. Ronson just finds people that have been labelled as crazy and follows them around until interesting stories come out. Sometimes he will go back to them later, sometimes not.

All of this makes for a slightly random, but definitely entertaining read.

Them Adventures with Extremists



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This entry was posted on Monday, July 20th, 2015 at 10:55 am and is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.