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The Men Who Stare at Goats – Book Review

     So, having nothing better to post at the moment, I’m going to post a book review I did last year for an old blog of mine which I have since deleted. Enjoy!

     The Men Who Stare at Goats is the second Jon Ronson book that I’ve read and so I can’t help but compare it to The Psychopath Test. I have to say that I preferred The Psychopath Test. Don’t get me wrong, The Men Who Stare at Goats is still a good book. I found it entertaining enough to read and I got through it quickly, but it took me a little bit longer to get through because it didn’t immediately catch my attention.

     It started off well. I enjoy Ronson’s writing style and his ability to add humour to his writing. Also, the fact that he writes about such bizarre things is great. Reading the account of psychic warfare was fun, as well as the unorthodox methods planned by the First Earth Battalion. The idea of people being able to walk through walls and kill goats by staring at them just seem so odd that you can’t help but wonder how they were first thought up and whether people really believed they could do these things.

     Then the book gets into more modern warfare tactics such as repetitive playing of Barney and Sesame Street songs to torture prisoners in Abu Ghraib. It gets a lot more serious. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s an interesting follow through from tactics originally designed to be peaceful developed into methods of torture. It’s where he goes to after this that bothers me. Following the uses of sound as torture is a story about a man who believes his dad was killed by the CIA in an attempt to cover up their use of LSD. Here, it starts to get a little bit too conspiracy like for my taste and I felt awkward reading it.

     The book seems disjointed. Sometimes it’s hard to follow and see how things are connected and why he’s moved onto a certain subject. There’s no real underlying story, just a serious of things that are seem only vaguely connected. The earlier stories of strange things the military did were good. They were funny, but when it got to the second half of the book I was turned off it a little bit the conspiracy like feeling and where things were going. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about things by the end because it did change rather suddenly from funny to serious to conspiracy.

     I know others really like this book, but it didn’t suit me. It was grand, an entertaining read that might be good if you had a long plain journey to get through, but it’s not something that I’d be re-reading in a hurry.

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