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The Last Days of August

Narrated by: Jon Ronson
Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (47 ratings)
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M
  • 10-01-2019

The tragic story of a life lost way too soon

Totally engrossed in the story from start to finish.

Jon explores August’s complicated & relatively short life story and tragic death with gentle curiosity, sensitivity and empathy.

Great work by Jon & his team.

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Classic Ronson

If you enjoyed the butterfly effort this is a good side story. classic Ronson story telling. showing a story from all sides and ties up the loose ends nicely.

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Edgy and provoking

A courageous and riveting exploration of a short life and the complexity of ascribing any singular reason for its end.

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  • Kingsley
  • 04-01-2019

Butterfly Effect meets Publicly Shamed

This is a great real life mystery that went somewhere different to what I expect. Well worth the listen.

'The Last Days of August' is somewhat a joining of who of Jon Ronson's previous works, 'The Butterfly Effect' and 'So You Have Been Publicly Shamed'.

In 'The Butterfly Effect' Ronson investigated the porn industry, looking at the changes that have come about due to the internet, and particularly due to the change from paid sites to a large amount of free sites.In 'So You Have Been Publicly shamed' Ronson looked at people who have been shamed online or cyber-bullied, due to innocent mistakes, poor jokes, or sometimes for genuine, monumental stuff ups. It looked at how the internet pile on is returning to the public shaming of old, and how in most cases it is not beneficial, useful, or proportional for the size of the stuff up.

Here Ronson combines the two elements to look at the public shaming and pile on of a porn actress, leading her to take her own life. This leads to her husband, Kevin, calling people out online and starting a cycle of shaming and bullying. Ronson investigates to find out where all this shaming and call outs started, and where it leads. He tracks down 'missing' people and slowly ekes out lots of contradictory information from the industry.

Was it really the twitter pile-on that started this?

Audible provide a warning in the blurb, It's at the start of the audio too, but I'll say it again here: this audio contains some very frank discussions on suicide, bullying, sex, porn etc. It does not shy away from it. It shines a light on some of the best and worst parts of the porn industry (more so the worst). It uses strong language. If you have a problem with any of that, this is not for you.

Ronson interviews the victim's husband, as well as many others involved in the industry - including many of those who undertook that public shaming. One of the main people blamed, Jessica Drake, is very clearly distraught at the thought she has something to do with it, and is sorry for any involvement. But those interviews lead to others which leads him down a trail deeper into the depths of the porn industry to find issues much greater than the cyber bullying of one person.

This is an audio program - sound effect, music, interviews, audio excerpts etc. It is not a straight reading of the text, like to might find with most of Ronson's books. Ronson narrates his own books, and here he leads the audio production. He is the guide between all the interviews and excerpts, the investigator following the leads to where they go.

The audio is generally really good. Occasionally the music is mixed a little too high, considering Ronson is fairly softly spoken. Several of the interviews are not the highest quality audio recording, and there are some live parts from industry events with crowd noises or cheering in the background, but generally it is of a good quality. There are also some interviews with August Ames prior to her death, which Ronson uses but obviously didn't make himself and thus would have had zero control over. All this considered, the audio is good quality and is mixed well together to make it very listenable (even if at times it's not easy to listen to, due to content).

Fans of Ronson, or fans of true mysteries will enjoy.

63 of 67 people found this review helpful

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  • A. M.
  • 04-01-2019

a healing masterpiece

Thank you for putting The Last Days Of August together... It was extraordinary - a solid masterpiece that I feel I was specifically meant to hear at this point in my life. I personally survived that world (I'm an ex pornstar who was extensively bullied - along with my parents - by industry figures on the venue where you located Shazia Sahari's name - I had that venue, which is a racist and homophobic hate crime, in the court system all last year), and managed to leave with my sanity. Your piece provided closure for me on a few things I'd forgotten about. The interviews were amazingly honest and revealed the truth about more than I can convey in this review...
I would encourage anyone considering a career in pornography to listen to this. I'd also encourage anyone working within the industry OR who's left to listen to this as well.
Again - thank you.

51 of 55 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Stickboy
  • 05-01-2019

Interesting Story

Tragic tale of a young lady. Well told and documented from all angles. appreciated the spoiler that the husband did not do it, that fact put the facts and my attention in the right mind set.
An in depth look into a dark but popular world along with the people involved, although this darkness is not limited to this world.
Still, a tragic ending to a life, many lives.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amy K.
  • 04-01-2019

Interesting

Intriguing story, highlights the complexity of human relations and interpretation of events. Definitely shows how emotion and time can change things. Also highlights how only knowing parts of stories changes how we see things.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Robert Alan Feingold
  • 09-01-2019

Jon Ronson is a talented reporter, but there's no story here

I'm a fan on Jon Ronson, and this story of porn and social media should fall right in his wheelhouse. Instead, there's really no story here and ends up focusing on one man. It comes off as unfair and inconclusive. Not worth the investment of your time.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Texastential
  • 06-01-2019

Dirty Little Secrets of Porn

As a person who has only ever been mildly interested in porn (ahem), I never really considered the private lives of the performers. I just assumed it was easy money for people who lacked the talent to break into mainstream movies. Now that I know the prevalence of mental illness, sexual abuse, and drugs in that industry, I doubt I'll casually browse the sites again anytime soon.

Jon Ronson has what I found to be an annoying whispery voice. It would have been better if he'd let his producer, Lena narrate it. When she talks at the end, it's a lot better.

If you ever been curious about the inner workings of this particular industry, this is worth listening to.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Connor
  • 04-01-2019

Rambles a bit, kind of tedious and overlong

Almost the entirety of this book implies that there will be some narrative or resolution, and there's really not. For being so meandering and constantly jumping from interview to interview, it didn't add much to the story. Large sections are unrelated to each other and could be left out. The only conclusion is basically "nobody really knows, but people in this industry tend to be pretty messed up."

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Stanley S.
  • 08-01-2019

A sad tale

A sad tale of a beautiful girl who ended her life way too early. The story weaves between cyber bullying, murder, or mental infirmity. The story doesn't reach any real conclusion as to why she did what she did. Maybe Cyber bullying, maybe her husband had a role in her demise, maybe her mental state, or maybe a porn scene gone bad pushed her over the edge. You can't say for sure. Maybe a combination of all of the above. At the end you have to draw your own conclusion as to why. The book floats varying theories without really supporting any one assertion.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Noah Wiley
  • 07-01-2019

it's alright

Was kinda hoping for a deeper dive into a situation like what Ronson covers in "Publicy Shamed" but instead of going into the twitter shaming that preceded Ames's death, he focuses a lot of time on whether or not she was in a good relationship (*spoiler* probably not) and a lot of the book is about the character of her husband. but he comes off no worse than the other of the people interviewed (spoiler *thery're all a bit awful and a bit broken*).

The author eliminates all the questions raised one by one and gets to no real conclusion. Was she murdered by her husband? no. Was she abused on a porn set? kinda, not really. Did other porn stars bully her on social media? kinda, not really. Was she troubled? definitely. Did twitter drive her to suicide? inconclusive, but it certainly didn't help.

There's a lot of reverence for the dead, which makes sense, it's a sad story and nobody wants to hear about the character flaws of the tragically dead-- but without acknowledging her shortcomings the book communicates quite early on there are avenues the author is not willing to go down. Which was probably wise because it's probably really hard to do without coming off sounding disrespectful of a tragedy.

Perhaps the author felt he had already covered a lot of social media angle in his previous books but there's interesting angles I was hoping to learn more about like the trend in porn of older men having relationships with younger women. or how it even works being in a relationship with someone who has sex with other people for a living and how that reflects on the relationship that the book dances around making the center of.

I was kinda hoping for something where i'd walk away having learned something and gained a bit more compassion for my fellow human but instead I just feel kinda guilty for being entertained for 3+ hours digging around Ms.Ames's life. It's not really a deep look into the porn industry or at social media. It's mostly just a sad story about broken people.

But all in all not a bad listen.
Curious to see what he does next.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Dangerous
  • 05-01-2019

Mystery in the Dark Side of the porn industry.

Thoroughly enjoyed and was engaged with Ronson's work. Ive listened to some of his other things and found them okay. This one drew me in. Worth a listen whether you like porn or not. The mystery got me.

Good narration.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful