More terrific reading from Jon Ronson. This is the first book, released before The Men Who Stare At Goats, which was about nut cases in the American Intelligence 'community', as they say.
Them is subtitled, adventures with extremists. That's putting it lightly. One thing that was never mentioned in the second book was the fact that Ronson was Jewish. Not that that is important. It's just that in this book its almost a central theme.
Ronson spends a lot of his time with nut cases who are also vehemently anti-semitic. In one scene, whilst adventuring with the Klu Klux Klan, a grand wizard tells him to put on one of their hoods. In another funny-scary moment he's in a Muslim terrorist training camp when it is revealed he's Jewish. My God, I squirmed when reading, run!
A lot of the people Ronson interviews in the book believe that there is a conspiracy of globalists who meet in secret and rule the world. This secret group of people is called the Bilderberg group. The actual group is real (whether they rule the world is another matter). They consist of all sorts of political and business big wigs. And they are very secretive.
In one fascinating passage in the book he finally gets to meet a member of this Bilderberg group. The member admits that they have, in a few circumstance, changed on guided events politically. Of course they have, with the likes of Henry Kissinger turning up to their shindigs. Ronson asked if he could look at some of the photo albums that the Bilderberg member had in his possession. The man looked at the floor after the request, then looked at Ronson and said, "F*&% off!' Charming.
At the end of the book he finally gets to infiltrate one of their parties, where they sacrifice an owl - in effigy of course. Ronson thinks its all a very immature affair. He notes men in obscene drag which he describes as being distinctly of the woman hating variety.
Whereas the people Ronson is with, the conspiracy theorists, are sure the party goers are really sacrificing people, that it's a genuine cult, involved in disgusting satanic practices.
Ronson is caught in the middle. He's quite symathetic to these people. He tries to see things from their point of view. After all, the networking at this Bilderberg group must be phenomenal. But in the end he is just exasperated by it all and gives up. It's an enigma that will never be cracked.
This must be the only book you'll read where the portrait of a Muslim extremist is funny and endearing. I'm not saying that to be flippant either. It's true.