A picaresque journey into the wonderland of delusional fanatics, often scary, yet wildly funny.
Ronson, a British journalist and documentary filmmaker (Channel 4’s The Secret Rulers of the World) explores the world of religious and political extremists, from Omar Bakri Mohammed, a hapless militant Islamic fundamentalist cheerfully trying to organize a jihad in North London, to David Icke, ranting that the world is run by a global elite descended from a race of extraterrestrial 12-foot lizards. (The response to Icke of the Anti-Defamation League, ever alert for anti-Semitism disguised by code words, suggests that paranoia is not confined to the lunatic fringes.) Most encounters, such as with an Arkansas Ku Klux Klan leader who eschews use of the “N” word (in public), or with Dr. Ian Paisley preaching his conspiracy theories in Cameroon, read like a comic novel, as the deadpan Ronson lets his subjects skewer themselves with their own words. Less laughable is his visit with Randy Weaver’s daughter Rachel, which leads him to conclude that the killings at Ruby Ridge were made possible by the demonization of the Weavers as white supremacists. A subsequent brief meeting with skinheads at the Aryan Nation in Idaho is one of the most chilling episodes here. From his wanderings among extremists, Ronson learns that their most consistent belief is that the world is run by a cabal of international financiers and politicians, mostly Jews, known as the Bilderberg group, who periodically gather in a secret room to determine the planet’s fate. Ronson’s mission, to track down the secret rulers of the world and discover who they are and what they actually do, is the stuff of high comedy, and what he finds is about as sinister as a frat party.
Ronson’s eye for the telling detail and his gift for capturing hilarious dialogue make this an entertaining read, but laughs aside, this is serious and thought-provoking stuff, and likely to nettle left, right, and some in the middle too.