Saturday, April 24, 2010

Book Review - Men Who Stare At Goats by Jon Ronson

I am an avid reader. Normally before I even finish the book I'm reading I have at least another ready for to start on. Occasionally though I have difficulty getting into a book for one reason or another and that was the case with this one. Although I had seen the trailer for the movie based on the book I have to say that I didn't really know a great deal about it. When I started reading it I only managed about thirty pages in two days which isn't saying much since it's not a very large book at all. Whenever this happens I've learned to read the signs and deal with them accordingly. So I set it aside and didn't read anything for about four or five days. That shouldn't be read as an indictment about the quality of the writing in this book though. Sometimes I just need a break from reading whether it's to think about something that's been occupying my mind or to just shut off that part of my brain for a few days so that I can recharge my batteries. In this case I believe it was the latter.

For some reason I had pegged this book as a parody or satire on the subject of the U.S. Intelligence community using psychics to hopefully bring forth a new breed of soldiers called the First Earth Battalion that could make themselves invisible, walk through walls and even.....kill goats by staring at them. On the surface it just seems to be so ridiculous. The more I read though the more I had the nagging feeling that this was not a satire at all. So I jumped online and started Googling names that were mentioned and found that all of them were not only real but so was the story. This is a tale of how far out there a government is willing to go in order to get an edge on their adversaries as well as their friends. What at first seems to be a bunch of kooks and crazies is shown rather quickly to be people in powerful positions that are quite real and quite serious.

Overall it was a fast read (once I got into it) and for me was a fascinating look into behind the scenes moves by our government in attempts to gain that ever so slim edge on all others. Not only do they consider what we think of as rational alternatives to gathering information, they also are willing to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and investigate all manner of mind altering techniques to get what they want. Kinda scary when you think about it.

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