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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining, In An Insane Christian Clown Posse Kind Way
Jon Ronson is one of my favorite writers. He has a gift for finding outrageous, true stories and telling them in a compelling way. The stories and essays in Lost At Sea work so well because they are outrageous, true, honest, and Ronson handles them all with respect and care. It is a great read, and one that I highly recommend to all.

The stories are loosely...
Published on October 3, 2012 by Bradley Bevers

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, often compelling, sometimes profound, and occasionally irrelevant
I'm on the fence about the star rating, I liked it about 3.5 but not enough to round up to a 4 so consider this rating a very strong 3.

This is my first experience with anything Jon Ronson has written (although I've seen the movie based on his book The Men Who Stare at Goats). I found him to be very adept at getting into a subject, participating (as a...
Published on October 30, 2012 by Devil_Monkey


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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Entertaining, In An Insane Christian Clown Posse Kind Way, October 3, 2012
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Jon Ronson is one of my favorite writers. He has a gift for finding outrageous, true stories and telling them in a compelling way. The stories and essays in Lost At Sea work so well because they are outrageous, true, honest, and Ronson handles them all with respect and care. It is a great read, and one that I highly recommend to all.

The stories are loosely tied together as "strange things we are willing to believe", and almost all of the stories fit into this rubric. Of the one's that don't, I am glad they were included anyways. The only one that feels really out of place is "The Name's Ronson, Jon Ronson", his story about reliving the drive from the Goldfinger movie.

Here are my favorite chapters:

* Insane Clown Posse - This chapter starts off the book, and it is fascinating. I have never listened to an ICP song, and don't plan to, but their now-professed Christianity, or at least spiritualism, is worth reading about. As soon as I read this chapter, I knew I would love the book.

* Robot Interviews - Ronson interviews the most advanced Artificial Intelligence robots that we have today - really interviews them - and collects his findings here.

* Indigo Children - How did I miss this? A huge group of parents/families deciding that their (maybe) ADHD children are actually the next evolution and saviors of the world . . .

* Alpha Course - As a Christian who has always been very involved in church, and now serve as an elder, I was interested to hear Ronson's take here. He gives an honest account of what he thinks and I found it moving and insightful, as well as extremely fair. I have not participated in Alpha Course, but know many who have. Also, speaking in tongues like described . . . unbiblical and I would find it just as weird.

* SETI and Paul Davies - Great interview with Paul Davies about aliens and SETI.

* Stanley Kubrick's Boxes - Ronson somehow gets invited to sift through all of Kubrick's personal belonging after he dies, for days and days. Fascinating insight to a great movie director and the real work behind genius.

* Phoning A Friend - The story of a family cheating the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire show. Hilarious and sad at the same time.

* Richard Bandler - The inventor of NLP, some of his background, and an interview. Scary and fascinating at the same time.

I could keep listing them, but I'll leave some to your imagination. Great read, extremely entertaining and insightful. You will learn while you read, and enjoy yourself while you do it. Highly Recommended.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Blurry Line Between Sanity and Insanity, October 9, 2012
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How have I missed reading Jon Ronson for so long? I read the newspapers where his articles usually appear, I have seen his books in the stores and libraries, I heard about the George Clooney movie based on one of his books. And yet this is the first book I have read by Ronson. There is no excuse.

Knowing only what the blurb said, about Ronson investigating the strange things we are willing to believe in, I started reading. When I finished the book, uncharacteristically having read every page (except for the last few pages about the trial of a pedophile), I immediately started looking for more of Ronson's books, and was pleased to find there are enough to keep me going for a while.

I expected, from the description, this to be a collection of articles about the kooky people who believe they've been abducted by aliens or are receiving transmissions from the CIA through the fillings in their teeth. There are a lot of people in those groups and poking fun at them seems cruel, not funny. Jon Ronson doesn't poke fun, he keeps an open mind, while still being a skeptical journalist. It's a skill not many have, and to top it off, he writes beautifully.

Many of the essays in Lost at Sea are indeed about those who believe in psychics, aliens from outer space, and mind control, but my favorites were about credit card debt, the wealth gap in America, and Stanley Kubrick's storage boxes.

I think Ronson must be especially disarming for so many people to open up to him. Maybe he gives off a vibe that he's a bit on the strange side himself. Whatever he has, it is working and I'm off to find more of his books and articles.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Robots and aliens and Indigo kids, oh my, September 30, 2012
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Jon Ronson's books are perfect for anyone who may be concerned about their sanity. Trust me, once you read a few pieces by this best-selling journalist (author of "Men Who Stare at Goats," which was made into a movie starring George Clooney), you'll feel like the most well-adjusted person around. Armed with deadpan humor and a broad tolerance for even the most horrifying of world views, Ronson interviews such subjects as the members of the band Insane Clown Posse, the world's supposedly most advanced robot, a UFO expert, a man who's been attempting to make contacts with extra-terrestrial life for years, and community members of an Alaskan town in which schoolkids answer letters to Santa in the guise of elves. He also looks at the darker side of humanity with interviews with Robbie Williams, the pop impressario indicted for child molestation; Major Charles Ingram and his wife Diana, who cheated on the British show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire"; and neighbors of Robert Hall, a Brit living in the French countryside who murdered his wife and entombed her in a block of concrete. Psychics, cult leaders and gurus are also represented in this collection. Occasionally, Ronson himself is the main subject, as in "The Name's Ronson, Jon Ronson," (in which he impersonates James Bond for a day), but even when he's not, his irrelevance often gets him in trouble with those he interviews and their followers. In one, an irate psychic lambasts him, calling him a "little worm." Other subjects are more circumspect in their attempts to obscure the real story, such as the employees of the Disney cruise ship, from which an employee went missing and has never been found.

In several pieces, Ronson employs rather original ways of handling the subject. In "Who Killed Richard Cullen," which looks at a man who committed suicide after running up credit card debt, he adopts multiple personas to see which gets the most credit card junk mail solicitations. In "Amber Waves of Green," he includes himself in examining the lifestyles of people in "six degrees of economic separation." Once content with his own lot, he becomes envious when interviewing a woman several rungs above him. "A very small amount of money," the woman explains when asked how much she pays her business manager. "A hundred thousand dollars a year....The trick is not to be too rich."

Real heroes emerge, as well, such as the two men who donate a kidney to strangers in "Blood Sacrifice." Ronson's usual skepticism is even overcome a few times, in his travels, too. Some of the subjects will amuse you, others baffle you, while others will likely make your skin crawl. While some ramble on and display a lack of empathy, others are more tuned in and even have a sense of humor. Fans of Ronson's books will definitely enjoy "Lost at Sea."
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, often compelling, sometimes profound, and occasionally irrelevant, October 30, 2012
I'm on the fence about the star rating, I liked it about 3.5 but not enough to round up to a 4 so consider this rating a very strong 3.

This is my first experience with anything Jon Ronson has written (although I've seen the movie based on his book The Men Who Stare at Goats). I found him to be very adept at getting into a subject, participating (as a journalist) in the story without overwhelming it.

Lost at Sea is a collection of essays, some written so recently they seem almost presciently timely while others were obviously from some years ago and, as a result, seem quite dated and don't have anywhere near the impact they must have had originally. The book is divided into five parts which consist of a mix of essays that fall (in my opinion) into a handful of categories ranging from compelling and thought provoking to human interest stories that aren't all that interesting (what basically amounts to filler).

Among the more compelling stories were ones that touched on one or more of the following subjects -- artificial intelligence, Indigo children, a game show cheater, good Samaritan organ donors, religious orders/cults, the seamier side of assisted suicide, an encounter with famous psychic Sylvia Browne, the possible homophobic discrepancies in prosecuting pedophiles, income disparity in the U.S., and the way in which cruise lines fail to cooperate when those on board disappear.

To be clear, these subjects are not necessarily the main focus of the individual essays, in some cases it's simply a byproduct of a larger issue or story that is being pursued while in others it is the primary story being investigated. In fact, in at least one instance -- the possibility of homophobic discrepancies in prosecuting pedophiles which was only lightly touched on in a bigger story about celebrities in the UK being investigated as child predators -- I found myself wishing the author would drop the main story and follow up on the side issue.

One of the better essays is the one which examines income disparity in the U.S., the author interviews five people in varying income brackets ranging from a dishwasher living below the poverty line to a billionaire who resents that his success has often led him to be portrayed as greedy or a bad guy.

I also found one in which the author immersed himself in a religious self-help style seminar group -- a series of motivational type meetings that claim to convert and convince atheists, agnostics and those in doubt of the existence of God -- to be quite interesting. Particularly the way he describes himself being drawn into the group think mentality.

One essay that I'm sure was particularly eye opening when it was first published in July 2005 deals with the unscrupulous ways of banks/money lenders and how a person's personal information can be collected, sorted and resold by companies that specialize in providing a target demographic to its corporate clients. Unfortunately, with all that's happened in the years since, most of what the essay deals with is old news at this point.

The book does shine a light on some of the more absurd and inane things people will believe in, while also counterbalancing nicely with stories of genuine seriousness and sorrow.

Overall it's a good book. I don't think anyone who enjoys reading about the modern human condition, told with a mix of humor and compassion, sorrow and silliness will be disappointed.

***I received this book as part of a free promotional giveaway contest.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are all mad here, you know, November 1, 2012
By 
S. Berner (Cocoa, Fl USA) - See all my reviews
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On a recent "Daily Show", Jon Stewart described Jon Rosson as an "investigative satirist".

As this collection of essays shows, that was nothing more nor less than the absolute truth.

But it was not the whole truth, and truth is important in this context.

Because Rosson shows us the truth of the world around us.

Hilariously.

Pointedly.

And in brilliant depth and detail.

Whether it's "Inasane Clown Posse" (whose name, we discover, is NOT just a glib reference, but a fact)

Or class warfare in the US.

Or any one of a dozen other subjects of life on this small ball we call Earth, Rosson offers insight; he offers profundity; he offers, most importantly, fall on the floor hilarity, as he examines the madness that is life in the 21st century.

So that, by the end of the book, we are likely to paraphrase that OTHER great philosopher, Pogo, and state:
We have met the nutcases, and they is us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars charming, totally readable collection of essays, November 11, 2012
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Jon Ronson is a frequent contributor to the radio show "This American Life," and I have grown used to his voice from hearing it on that program. It was almost impossible to read these stories without hearing them in his particular, high-pitched English accent. I think this helped the essays, as the humor landed with less ambiguity than it might for a reader who was unfamiliar with Ronson's cadence.

That said, the collection is excellent. Most of the pieces originally appeared in the Guardian newspaper, and I had seen only a couple of them previously. Basically all of them share in common Ronson's fascination with people living in extremis. He doesn't just visit an odd place, he visits in order to talk with the odd people living there. He doesn't experiment with living like a poor person (as Barbara Ehrenreich might), he talks with poor people. Though these essays are all written in first person, and Ronson is a character in every one, he is never the main character and he seems legitimately fascinated with the people whom he discusses, torn at times by his sympathies for them individually but ultimately willing to judge them, if they have been foolish or evil.

The book is split into five sections, representing different sorts of subjects. Section Three, "Everyday Difficulties," is about people who had run out of money, or committed terrible crimes, or at least considered doing so, or had a loved one do so. Basically, seemingly(?) normal people for whom things have gone terribly wrong. This section was hard to read. Life isn't easy enough to take any sort of pleasure in reading about the misfortune of others, however sympathetically portrayed.

That said, the strengths of the other parts of the book outshined that section. The parents who think their kids have magic powers, the pop stars obsessed with UFOs, the billionaires convinced that society is out to get them. These pieces were all worth reading, and I think will remain so for many years. Even after the particular psychics, pederasts, religious cult leaders, and dotcom millionaires of whom Ronson writes fade from our memory, similar characters will surely arise. Ronson writes about particular people but his theme is always the human condition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Interesting, October 27, 2012
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I loved this book. The author is a Brit and I enjoyed a non-American point of view. Jon Ronson tackles subjects with an open mind. His honest reactions are sometimes funny, sometimes educational and always enjoyable.

I enjoyed learning about eccentrics (also referred to as collective craziness) all over the world.

Religion seems to be a big draw for kooks. From Rich Agnostics (only wealthy are invited) in London either finding the Holy Spirit or being brainwashed, (depending on how you look at it) to Jesus Christians giving one of their kidneys - Free - to fit in with their cult.

How Indigo Children are treated in England. I foolishly thought they were an American phenomenon.

An aging rock star - hiding from his fans but embracing aliens - not the ones from Earth.

There's a chapter on SETI - scientists trying to find aliens and what will happen if they do : - )

North Pole, Alaska teenage boys poorly "planning" murder and mayhem to a border town in Wales where well off men actually commit murder and mayhem.

A cruise with Sylvia Brown the queen of grumpy, phony psychics. That one really cracked me up. Jon was much kinder to Colette Baron-Reid who appears more sincere and capable.

A fascinating chapter on Stanley Kubrick!

Another fascinating chapter on the person who invented Sirius Radio. He/she also invented a lifesaving treatment for a lung disorder AND is working on a tryly life like robot.

A unique look at people's income and their lifestyle. 6 degrees of separation takes on a whole new meaning.

Jon also takes a stab at living like James Bond. His difficulty with the Aston Martin is endearing.

There are more interesting chapters. I like the way Jon approaches and develops each subject.

You don't have to read the book in order although it's broken up into 5 parts of similar topics.

I'd recommend LOST AT SEA .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good as expected, but not all new, January 25, 2013
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With the possible exception of Marco Polo, I trust no one but Jon Ronson to penetrate the deranged world of the Insane Clown Posse and report back to me, with wry precision. He's the only ethnographer I will have. And he has only Errol Morris as his equal in the ingenuous master stroke of letting people hang themselves. His self deprecation allows him an extraordinary intimacy with his subjects and if they just happen to damn themselves while he is sheepishly just - present - what is he to do but write it up?

That said, the sea of human credulity presents rather a huge subject for Ronson (not his fault, I suppose for we are a race of fools ) and in this collection it is a too-big umbrella catchall for pieces, some of which have been in his other collections. Specifically, we've seen "The Fall of a Pop Impresario," "Phoning a Friend," "Stanley Kubrik's Boxes" and at least one other in recent anthologies of Ronson's work. It's not much of a beef, I suppose. I enjoyed reading them again. But more new pieces, please!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A slight miss for Ronson, January 7, 2013
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I have been a fan of Jon Ronson for a long while. I've read all three of his books which were printed in the USA ("Them," "The Men who Stare at Goats," "The Psychopath Test"). Perhaps that was what killed me about "Lost at Sea," I was expecting something of the same quality as his earlier works.

I don't want a reader to get me wrong, Ronson's writing style is as clean as ever, the difference is in the overall book. "Lost at Sea" is not a coherent work of long-form journalism. It is a collection of diverse feature articles from the last decade or so. There seems little added to them since their original publication in the Guardian, and as a person who has followed Ronson enough to have read many of these when he originally published them, I felt slightly cheated by that. I suppose I just want more out of a book than what I felt I was given here. I want Ronson to go more in depth. There are a plethora of great stories in here and I wish Ronson could have taken one of them and turned it into a book. Maybe even a couple of them. Take his articles about people killing themselves over financial troubles and actually explore that, I would have loved that book.

I feel as though there is something unfair about my review. I'm not reviewing the book itself, but my disappointment that it wasn't a different book. I suppose that is because I was expecting something more like Ronson's previous work, and perhaps that was unfair of me. Still, I wish there had been more here. I would encourage those who have not read Ronson's other books to get those instead of this one. Particularly the under-rates "Them: Adventures with Extremists." Like "Lost at Sea," it is a book about a variety of subjects, but unlike "Lost at Sea" there is a meta-narrative creating a through line that keeps the book building.

There is great writing in this book, it just isn't a great book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny man, funny book, November 28, 2012
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I saw Jon do a segment on the Daily Show, and he was so funny I picked up my Kindle and bought his new book on the spot. Ronson has a great writing style and I really enjoy his stories. Some of them are better than others, but as a whole it is a really enjoyable read and made me laugh out loud many times.
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Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries
Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries by Jon Ronson (Paperback - October 1, 2013)
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