The Men Who Stare at Goats

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9780330375481: The Men Who Stare at Goats

In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known accepted 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. Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and fighting the War on Terror. With first-hand access to the leading players in the story, Ronson traces the evolution of these bizarre activities over the past three decades and shows how they are alive today within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and in postwar Iraq. Why are they blasting Iraqi prisoners of war with the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Why have 100 debleated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces Command Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? How was the U.S. military associated with the mysterious mass suicide of a strange cult from San Diego? The Men Who Stare at Goats answers these and many more questions. Ronson's Them: Adventures with Extremists, a highly acclaimed international bestseller, examined the paranoia at the fringes of hate-filled extremist movements around the globe. The Men Who Stare at Goats reveals extraordinary - and very nutty - national secrets at the core of George W. Bush’s War on Terror.

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Review:

Just when you thought every possible conspiracy theory had been exhausted by The X-Files or The Da Vinci Code, along comes The Men Who Stare at Goats. The first line of the book is, "This is a true story." True or not, it is quite astonishing. Author Jon Ronson writes a column about family life for London's Guardian newspaper and has made several acclaimed documentaries. The Men Who Stare at Goats is his bizarre quest into "the most whacked-out corners of George W. Bush's War on Terror," as he puts it. Ronson is inspired when a man who claims to be a former U.S. military psychic spy tells the journalist he has been reactivated following the 9-11 attack. Ronson decides to investigate. His research leads him to the U.S. Army's strange forays into extra-sensory perception and telepathy, which apparently included efforts to kill barnyard animals with nothing more than thought. Ronson meets one ex-Army employee who claims to have killed a goat and his pet hamster by staring at them for prolonged periods of time. Like Ronson's original source, this man also says he has been reactivated for deployment to the Middle East.

Ronson's finely written book strikes a perfect balance between curiosity, incredulity, and humor. His characters are each more bizarre than the last, and Ronson does a wonderful job of depicting the colorful quirks they reveal in their often-comical meetings. Through a charming guile, he manages to elicit many strange and amazing revelations. Ronson meets a general who is frustrated in his frequent attempts to walk through walls. One source says the U.S. military has deployed psychic assassins to the Middle East to hunt down Al Qaeda suspects. Entertaining and disturbing. --Alex Roslin

From the Publisher:

THE US GOVERNMENT SPENDS OVER $400 BILLION IN MILITARY EXPENDITURES. REAL-LIFE SECRET US ARMY EXPERIMENTS CONDUCTED AT TAX-PAYERS' EXPENSE REVEALED IN THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.

1. Goat/Hamster Thought-Death Experiments.

Description: Special Forces soldiers stare, heart of goat/hamster eventually explodes.

Success Rate: One dead goat, one dead hamster (experiments conducted inside 'Goat Lab' at Fort Bragg, North Carolina).

Operational Use: Military Intelligence currently considering staring at detainees at Abu Ghraib (not to kill them, just to freak them out).

2. Bee-Attracting Theremone.

Description: Special theremone to be sprayed on the enemy before bees are released to attack them.

Success Rate: Still in proposal stage.

Operational Use: Enemies will get stung.

3. Walking Through Walls.

Description: Soldier learns to walk through wall. Secret experiments conducted at US Army Intelligence headquarters, Arlington, Virginia.

Success Rate: None. Soldiers kept bumping their noses.

Operational Use: Who would want to screw with an army that could do that?

4. Blasting the enemy with the theme tune to Barney The Purple Dinosaur

Description: Detainee placed inside steel shipping container. Barney song is repeatedly blasted.

Success Rate: Hard to quantify.

Operational Use: This interrogation technique is designed to hit detainee on a "psycho-spiritual dimension". Currently being deployed in Iraq.

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