Title: The Men Who Stare at Goats
Author: Jon Ronson
Walking through walls, reading minds, turning invisible, it all sounds like something out of Harry Potter. Well this is no tale of fiction or magic. Attempting these feats were the really life pursuits of some of the most powerful military men in the US Army.
Jon Ronson is a journalist with the amazing ability to extract the most interesting and often hilarious details about the little know military unit called the First Earth Battalion. From its early beginnings in the 1979 to the implications this unit has had on the way the War of Terror has been fought, Ronson traverses the history of this ‘special’ military unit and the characters that it has attracted over its three decade history.
I really enjoy this type of non-fiction; quirky, irreverent and fascinating. Ronson is a master of research, digging up the most interesting details from the past and utilising the immense trust he managed to develop in those he interviewed. What is most impressive is the respect and real affection Ronson demonstrates towards the people he interviews and whose stories help make this book so captivating. It is very easy to be cynical and poke fun at the people in stories such as this but what Ronson is able to capture is the ideology behind this movement which can only be described as charmingly hopeful. He shows that despite having some of the most horrific implications, the men who stared at goats were visionaries who dared to image a different future for the US Army.