In 1979, a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the US Army. Defying all known accepted military practice - and indeed, the laws of physics - they believed that a soldier could adopt the cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them.
Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren't joking. What's more, they're back and fighting the War on Terror.
The Men Who Stare at Goats reveals extraordinary - and very nutty - national secrets at the core of George W. Bush's War on Terror. With first-hand access to the leading players in the story, Ronson traces the evolution of these bizarre activities over the past three decades, and sees how it is alive today within US Homeland Security and post-war Iraq.
Why are they blasting Iraqi prisoners-of-war with the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Why have 100 de-bleated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces command centre at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? How was the US Military associated with the mysterious mass-suicide of a strange cult from San Diego? The Men Who Stare At Goats answers these, and many more, questions.
Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of many best-selling books, including Frank: The True Story that Inspired the Movie, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, The Psychopath Test, The Men Who Stare at Goats and Them: Adventures with Extremists. His first fictional screenplay, Frank, co-written with Peter Straughan, starred Michael Fassbender. He lives in London and New York City.
©2012 Jon Ronson (P)2016 Audible, Ltd
"Few more earnest investigative journalists would have had the brilliant bloody-mindedness to get what he has got and hardly any would have the wit to present it with as much clarity." (The Observer)
"Simultaneously frightening and hilarious." (The Times)"
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"FINALLY! In Ronson's own voice!"
Honesty, I have collected Ronson's audio books for years, but was disappointed to hear "Men" was voiced by an American accented reader. Jon's writing is engaging, involving and compelling but after hearing him reading The Psychopath Test or Them or Lost at Sea, any other voice feels two dimensional by comparison. While the movie tie in version is still interesting, it felt flat. Here, we have Jon giving one thing that is lacking in the other read - the depth of experience. You feel the enthusiasm of a man who was there, across the table, interviewing men who were part of this journey through "psychic soldiers" and experiments in out of body operations.
I have enjoyed Ronson's books, far more than the movies based on his articles, but this was a glaring omission to the cannon which I am extremely glad has been corrected. Thank you, Jon and Audible! Worth the cost... Looking forward to the next!
"Very interesting investigative journalism + irony"
I didn't buy this audio book before because it wasn't narrated by Jon Ronson, and the other Jon Ronson audio books I had listened to led me to believe that his narration, with its solemn tongue-in-cheek ironic delivery is essential to get the full effect of his writing.
When I saw that he had this book redone with his own narration, I bought it. This is a topic I have some interest in - having tried out a remote viewing class, read numerous free pdf's to do with remote viewing, watched many RV videos and listened to many podcasts of interviews of the early remote viewers, and also after having read/listened to some autobiographies of early remote viewers involved in the program.
What a difference to see the program as part of a bigger picture, from another angle!
Because this book places remote viewing in a bigger category of activities, the story also references Heavens Gate, the Waco siege, MK Ultra, Guantanamo, and prisoners in Iraq and the use of various techniques such as sound or chemicals to change behavior. Also the death of a research scientist who fell out of a 10 story building in New York is reported on.
The story ends abruptly, with an unfinished feel, but that is reflective of the reality . . . and life. The book made me uncomfortable and think. If it weren't for the irony and excellent narration and research efforts . . . I am not sure I would have been interested enough to get this book. Because I really liked the previous audio books Jon Ronson published, I bought this . . . but, I learned more than I wanted to know, and feel saddened by what people do to other people . . . and animals.
"Disjointed mess with awful narration"
I really found it hard to go through this book. Not only it is disjointed with too many unrelated characters, it also does terribly at attempting to be humorous. The topic covered is really interesting, and I understand it is extremely difficult to get any real information due to the nature of how this works, but the author seemed more concerned about highlighting how many wacky people he talked to rather than presenting a coherent story. And sure, if this is meant to be a silly "fun" book, it also tragically failed in that regard.
What truly made it unbearable for me was the narration, I recommend you have a listen to a sample clip before purchasing to decide if you're able to listen to 6 hours of that (forgetting about the content). Luckily, Audible accepts returns which I definitely took advantage of for this purchase.
"Listen to Goats"
There are three ways to experience The Men Who Stare at Goats: read, watch, or listen. Hands down, best choice is to listen to Jon Ronson recite his investigations into how U.S. military and intelligence has explored unconventional approaches to warfare -- psychics, paranormals, psy-ops; using acid as a truth serum or heroin withdrawal as a form of torture; walking through walls, making oneself invisible, dropping foes with a stare (the titular goats being test subjects, not enemy combatants).
I'm sure this makes for a good read, a superior approach perhaps in making sure you get the details right, or can refer back to them if you reach moments of confusion. I'm sure as well that the movie is a waste of time (saw it, hated it) -- for some strange reason, they chose to fictionalize it, when the very best thing about it is that it is true and that most of Ronson's interview subjects are real-life participants in the projects described.
But listening to it on audio has one distinct advantage -- Ronson's narration of his own work. If you haven't listened to Ronson before, his idiosyncratic delivery is initially challenging. But for this material (as is true for most of his books), his approach to interviews and his method of recounting them is just pitch perfect. How he gets people to open up to him is amazing, especially in this case since he's talking to military people about secret projects.
His method is to pretend confusion, pretend that he doesn't understand the more amazing things that are being told to him. Of course he does understand them, which you can tell because of the details he chooses to pursue by feigning dimness. And since much of what he is being told is jaw-droppingly incredible (in its literal sense of straining believability), his ability to narrate as if his jaw is hanging down to his chest, eyes popping and mind blowing, makes for entertaining and illuminating listening.
"The movie does the story no justice."
The book is very much unlike the movie. While it animates many of the stories told to Jon, it in no way tells the whole story behind the military and their psychic unit, and the twists and turns Jon takes in obtaining this story that defies credibility. All in all, very well done!
"Jon Ronson Reading Jon Ronson is Heaven"
I'm so glad that this audiobook has been re-released with Jon Ronson performing. He has a wonderful accent and is able to inject extra humour into his own work.
I wanted to like it more. I don't know if it was his narration style that made it so dull and monotonous, or if his writing style was like that too.
Send Jon Ronson an editor who can halt his incessant "he said / I said" writing with something more creative, and maybe I'll consider reading another of his works.
"Eye opening and jaw dropping"
Loved the film but had no idea of the depth this topic and book goes too. Amazing and shocking.
"Compelling Ronson at his best"
Ronson has a really compelling style that draws the reader in. The audible version of this and his other books has the added dimension of his own speech pattern- something Ronson does really well. At points it's like he is say in the room with me revealing a secret he heard from someone over the garden wall. A real pleasure for the ears.
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