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Showing 1-10 of 325 reviews(5 star, Verified Purchases). See all 942 reviews
on September 5, 2013
I agree with another reviewer who noticed the style similarities of Bill Bryson and Jon Ronson. I, too, like that style. What might seem like digressions aren't really. Instead they unfold a large pointillist picture grander than the narrow subject implied by the title.

In addition to defining and describing psychopaths, Ronson questions the sanity of psychiatry in its history and current state -- from the mid-20th century's LSD-assisted psychiatric prison sessions and traveling icepick-wielding lobotomists to today's hare trigger prescription-happy child psychiatrists. And it's entertaining, even quite funny, which is no mean achievement for a book about psychos.

Jon Ronson's knees don't jerk, evidenced by his surprisingly evenhanded treatment of Scientologists, noting the rational roots of their criticisms of psychology but also their irrational and creepy aspects.

Sometimes Ronson almost becomes Laodicean in his determined use of gray instead of black and white, but because his gray is made up of stark black and white dots, each conveying a strong feeling, he thankfully escapes.

Learning about psychopaths is the main course in The Pscyhopath Test, but other creative and unusual courses make it a larger special meal.


(mixed metaphors at no extra cost)
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on July 23, 2015
An amazing accomplishment: A Jewish humorist writer infiltrates the most extremist, conspiracy-crazed elements in our society, including the Ku Klux Klan and some Aryan Nations types, also spending some time with a guy who considers himself the "Osama bin Laden" of England. One finds along the way just how banal and unfocused so many of these folks are, how they all share certain core beliefs and how far they will go to support those beliefs. However, the last chapter provides quite a shock when he successfully infiltrates a secret gathering of the truly powerful and discovers that yes, they occasionally really DO get together and worship a giant stone owl....
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on February 19, 2017
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although my book shelf normally consists of suspense, drama, mystery and gone girl-esque books, this was an awesome change. It felt as if it met all of my interests however was non-fiction (even better). It doesn't hurt that I'm naturally interested in anything that is a little on the extreme (i.e. a little on the extreme side of mental illness). So glad I read it and I've been looking for books of this nature ever since.
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on March 14, 2015
Interesting book. Fascinating read for a novice on the topic of psychopaths. It is written in a non-technical manner. It will make you think about people you know and people from your past who have these psychopathic traits. I usually do not read books like this, but it was a great read.
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on February 23, 2014
Psychopaths make up only about 1% of our population, but they make up a larger percentage of CEOs, and because psychopaths are so heinous, it's estimated that they (and those with related conditions) negatively affect 60 million Americans ([...]). They feel no empathy, and can't be taught empathy, so it's a permanent condition. What makes them so dastardly is that they view other peoples' empathy only as an opening to manipulate them—and they are master manipulators. As CEOs making rational but unethical decisions (because of no empathy), they twist what are horrific decisions into examples of "leadership". Psychopaths (like Bernie Madoff) don't care whom they hurt, utterly mangling even their own families. Reading a book like this is an essential sort of personal education for anyone who might need to become aware that they might be dealing with a psychopath.
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on October 2, 2016
This book cracked me up. Having already heard of the subjects he profiles, and having spent some time reading about them already it was very interesting getting his first person account of their lives and inner world. Very funny in some places and also very sad in others. I had forgotten all about Ruby Ridge. The devastating description of that horrible siege made me cry. And Mr. Icke? Just plain weird. A good read. Very entertaining.
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on May 28, 2015
I had seen Ronson interviewed on TV before, but never got a book of his until recently. He is a really interesting, compelling writer. I like the way he starts off in one direction and then goes off on these tangents that eventually give support, background, or insight into his subject. In this book in particular, he really does a great job in exposing how we classify the mentally ill and the effects of that classification. I also appreciate the personal touches he brings to the story, never afraid of exposing his own doubts and insecurities. The book was a quick and easy read, and I highly recommend it.
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on March 14, 2016
Ronson has a way with making the absurd seem sublimely normal. He charms his interviewees, and catches them off guard, thus allowing for far more emotional truth to be revealed than may have been intended. He deftly weaves humor into the mix, with a generous dash of tongue in cheek. The result is a very interesting read, one that is difficult to put down, and that leaves the reader with much to ponder once the book is done. Including where to get her hands on his next book!!
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on December 12, 2014
I initially downloaded a sample of this book for my Kindle as I'm heading on a trip in a few weeks that will require extremely long airplane rides. I was looking for some good reading. Sadly, this overshot the mark. It was too good. I read the whole thing in 3 days & have to start a new search for something for the plane.

The downside to reading this is that you'll start to wonder which of your family or friends might actually be legitimately labelled as psychopaths. Perhaps it's you?
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on January 28, 2013
I read psychology for fun (and obsession -- it contributes to a helpful and much-needed illusion of control). I chose this book because of a (probably) standard-issue, morbid fascination with machinations of the conscience-free (plus a liking for the Goat-movie). Jon Ronson is a journalist (of the gonzo variety, perhaps?), willing to take a reader along a circuitous, investigative journey that involves meeting identified psychopaths and the shrinks who've labeled them. I jest. I've come to believe people may be different, but they aren't THAT different. Perhaps human behavior sorts itself into grooves and patterns that are recognizable, once one knows what to look for. The problem seems to be that it's easy to discern whatever it is one's looking for, amidst all the background noise. Ronson's modest refusal to ignore the ridiculous nature of psychological investigation is balanced by a rueful appreciation of the high stakes involved.
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