Top critical review
Interesting, but not memorable
on November 10, 2012
Jon Ronson dives in to the world of psychological deviance, from the innocuous to the truly terrifying. Along the way, he learns and teaches us about the traits that define psychopathy and some of the history and contention around these definitions. Where most writers would then make this a case study on violent psychopaths, Ronson takes the opposite approach. His question becomes, how do these traits manifest themselves in ordinary life, from our business and political leaders to our relationships with others.
Ronson gives a number of examples of the ambiguity that surrounds psychopathy in modern life, the degree to which an element of madness might actually propel world advances regardless of the human consequences, and examples where criminal psychopathy may or may not conform to the readers expectations.
Ultimately, however, the book as a whole feels empty. There are interesting points made, and interesting questions raised, but there are no conclusions and the implications of Ronson's observations seem fairly obvious. There are some interesting anecdotes presented along the way, but ultimately the book simply ends as though Ronson had nothing more to say and had related every amusing story he encountered in his research.
The book is worth borrowing from a friend or lending library if a reader is interested in how deviant behavior influences the world and everyday life, but it isn't a must-read by any measure.