Book Review: Them

‘The truth is so much more frightening. Nobody rules the world. Nobody controls anything…’

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Them is Jon Ronson’s second book after 1994’s Clubbed Class and it takes in the conspiracy theory that the world is ruled by a small elite group of, probably Jewish, bankers. The backdrop to the story is the search to find out more about the Bilderberg Group, a mysterious and secret organization who meet annually to “bolster a consensus around free market Western capitalism and its interests around the globe”.

Ronson discovers that religious extremists on all sides, from radical Muslim activist Omar Bakri to Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Thom Robb, believe that the world is run by a small group of people who are trying to bring about a New World Order. All the people involved are fascinating but it is Ronson’s unique and hilarious take on his experiences that makes Them so compelling. The fact that, at times, Ronson appears to be in real danger brings an unexpected element of suspense, akin to the some of the more extreme documentaries that Louis Theroux has produced over the years.

Them was published in 2001. With the advent of the internet, anyone with even a passing interest in conspiracy theories will be well acquainted with the Bilderberg Group and David Icke and other such wonderful nonsense but despite the subject matter being familiar, I still found myself shocked and appalled at certain sections within Ronson’s second novel, and as with The Men Who Stare At Goats, I regularly found myself researching some of the people and events involved myself.

Them was my third Jon Ronson book and there is now no doubt that I will continue making my way through the rest of his bibliography. Once begun, all his books seem very difficult to put down. There can surely be no greater praise for any writer.