Monday, 30 April 2012

The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson (4/5)

The back says: In 1979 a secret unit was established by the US Army. Defying all known military practice – and indeed the laws of physics – they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them. They were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and fighting the War on Terror. So unbelievable it has to be true – this is the real-life account that inspired the film. 

I say: Oh deary me.

*puts on tinfoil hat*

I vaguely remember a work colleague telling me that he was going to see a film about men who stare at goats, and me laughing in response, not paying it any further mind. So, when I came across this in the book store a few weeks ago, I thought I’d buy it. And glad am I that I did.

Supposedly this is all based on the truth, and that is as far as I am going to go in regards to the credibility of the stories in this book.

This is, essentially, every conspiracy theorist's dream.

Ronson talks about men who are able to kill goats (and hamsters) simply by staring at them, people who are able to see what’s going on in other parts of the world, soldiers using sound and light to torture their prisoners, and so on and so forth. Some of these stories are way out there, whereas others are of things that have been confirmed and documented, and it’s up to reader to decide how much of it they want to believe.

One of the main reasons why this was so interesting to me was that when I was younger I wanted to be a soldier. But due to health issues, that was never going to happen, so I studied war instead. It sounds weird saying that war fascinates me, but it does – the way human beings behave; and the way they justify their actions and thoughts – and since one of my goals in life used to be a part of a think tank, I loved all the alleged military secrets unveiled.

Even if you’re not interested in war or the military, this is still a fascinating read, full of absurdities and humour. And although the insanity levels hit such extreme highs I couldn’t help but laugh at them, I can’t get away from the fact that this book is also very unnerving.

*adjusts tin foil hat*

Aside: I saw the film and it was bad. Really bad.


  1. I remember the movie coming out. It looked pretty bad. I can't believe it was based on a true story. The world is a bizarre place!

    1. It really is bizarre. You kind of have to laugh to keep from going insane. I think it's worked for me so far in life.

  2. i did not know this was a book. i spent too much time laughing at the beginning to read the credits. i actually like the movie...although it's a bit off (what ewan mcgregor movie isn't?). must read this book! :D

    1. Yeah, my friends loved the movie as well, but it's just not my type of humour. Also, I really don't like George Clooney - he just annoys me to no end. And I may never forgive Ewan McGregor for this. But I did love Kevin Spacey; he's such a brilliant actor.

  3. I worked in the book shop when this was hugely popular thanks to the film. I think most people saw it as a humour book. I was intrigued at the time mainly for its title but never read it. It does sound good though.

    You don't sound strange at all. I have worked with two people (at different times) who were the same. One in particular had AMAZING military history knowledge.

    1. You know, even though it says that it's based on a true story, I still find it really hard to believe. It's just so absurd. Or it's just an elaborate hoax.

      Oh, and you're the first one who's said I don't sound strange. People generally get scared/weirded out when I strat my military talk (esp since I talk pure strategy and they get all emotional). Ah well...