crowyhead, June 3, 2008 (view all comments by crowyhead)
The subject matter of this book is fascinating. It explores the US military's research into decidedly strange fighting and reconaissance techniques: psychic warfare (as in, soldiers using psychic powers to stop the enemy in its tracks), remote viewing, you name it. It starts out fairly lighthearted: look at what happens when you give some whackadoos in the government money to try to walk through walls! There's a serious side to it, though; out of some of the same minds that came up with the more out-there techniques of psychic warfare, came some of the psychological techniques that are being used to manipulate and torture prisoners and insurgent populations.
The execution leaves something to be desired. For one, Ronson is aware that there is both an amusing and a serious side to his research, and points this out from time to time, but Ronson does not work to somehow make these two aspects of the stories he tells play off each other, or to reconcile these two aspects of the subject matter. Instead, the tone of the book is simply wildly uneven, sometimes switching from dead serious to satirical and jokey in the same page or two. The book is also quite rambling, and the overall impression is that it's a series of journalistic articles he wrote, which he then strung together into a book. It just struck me as lazy writing. Still interesting, though.
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uncle_loki, April 22, 2007 (view all comments by uncle_loki)
This book is about the more esoteric practices of the United States military. Since Ronson is a bit of a skeptic, there is a underlying tone of playfull mockery throughout the book. I found it mildly informative, but quite homorous.
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Simon & Schuster -
by Benjamin H.,
Ever since Tina Fey adapted a nonfiction book into the successful Mean Girls, a desperate Hollywood has been hard at play turning serious works of nonfiction into the next goofy romp. While the collision of military black ops and new-age thought, as offered up by Ronson, does have definite moments of hilarity, it should also strike terror into every reader. At first you can't help but laugh, but as the exploration continues, you begin to recognize that the people in charge have lost their minds and are turning to gurus for insight in how to kill people better. The movie goes in for another laugh before you can really get thinking about it.
by The Boston Globe,
"A hilarious and unsettling book....Ronson comes off as an unusual cross between Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh."
by Janet Maslin, The New York Times,
"Ronson sets his book up beautifully. It moves with wry precise agility from crackpot to crackpot in its search for the essence of this early New Age creativity...."
by Houston Chronicle,
"Jon Ronson...skitters clumsily between genuine inquisitiveness and invented interpretations worthy of an X-Files episode. Intriguing? At times. Humorous? Occasionally. Informative? Not so much..."
by San Diego Union-Tribune,
"A work that combines investigative reporting, slapstick encounters with fringe people and not-so-funny events ripped from recent headlines to push a provocative thesis..."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"Very funny and packed with oddities....Entertaining and alarming in equal parts."
From the acclaimed author of Them comes a truly disturbing, often hilarious look at the U.S. military's long flirtation with the paranormal — and the psy-op soldiers who are still fighting the battle.
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