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The Men Who Stare At Goats (English Edition)
 
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The Men Who Stare At Goats (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Jon Ronson
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Descriptions du produit

Amazon.com

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

Extrait

The Men Who Stare at Goats

1. THE GENERAL


This is a true story. It is the summer of 1983. Major General Albert Stubblebine III is sitting behind his desk in Arlington, Virginia, and he is staring at his wall, upon which hang his numerous military awards. They detail a long and distinguished career. He is the United States Army’s chief of intelligence, with sixteen thousand soldiers under his command. He controls the army’s signals intelligence, their photographic and technical intelligence, their numerous covert counterintelligence units, and their secret military spying units, which are scattered throughout the world. He would be in charge of the prisoner-of-war interrogations too, except this is 1983, and the war is cold, not hot.

He looks past his awards to the wall itself. There is something he feels he needs to do even though the thought of it frightens him. He thinks about the choice he has to make. He can stay in his office or he can go into the next office. That is his choice. And he has made it.

He is going into the next office.

General Stubblebine looks a lot like Lee Marvin. In fact, it is widely rumored throughout military intelligence that he is Lee Marvin’s identical twin. His face is craggy and unusually still, like an aerial photograph of some mountainous terrain taken from one of his spy planes. His eyes, forever darting around and full of kindness, seem to do the work for his whole face.

In fact he is not related to Lee Marvin at all. He likes the rumor because mystique can be beneficial to a career in intelligence. His job is to assess the intelligence gathered by his soldiers and pass his evaluations on to the deputy director of the CIA and the chief of staff for the army, who in turn pass it up to the White House. He commands soldiers in Panama, Japan, Hawaii, and across Europe. His responsibilities being what they are, he knows he ought to have his own man at his side in case anything goes wrong during his journey into the next office.

Even so, he doesn’t call for his assistant, Command Sergeant George Howell. This is something he feels he must do alone.

Am I ready? he thinks. Yes, I am ready.

He stands up, moves out from behind his desk, and begins to walk.

I mean, he thinks, what is the atom mostly made up of anyway? Space!

He quickens his pace.

What am I mostly made up of? he thinks. Atoms!

He is almost at a jog now.

What is the wall mostly made up of? he thinks. Atoms! All I have to do is merge the spaces. The wall is an illusion. What is destiny? Am I destined to stay in this room? Ha, no!

Then General Stubblebine bangs his nose hard on the wall of his office.

Damn, he thinks.

General Stubblebine is confounded by his continual failure to walk through his wall. What’s wrong with him that he can’t do it? Maybe there is simply too much in his in-tray for him to give it the requisite level of concentration. There is no doubt in his mind that the ability to pass through objects will one day be a common tool in the intelligence-gathering arsenal. And when that happens, well, is it too naive to believe it would herald the dawning of a world without war? Who would want to screw around with an army that could do that? General Stubblebine, like many of his contemporaries, is still extremely bruised by his memories of Vietnam.

These powers are attainable, so the only question is, by whom? Who in the military is already geared toward this kind of thing? Which section of the army is trained to operate at the peak of their physical and mental capabilities?

And then the answer comes to him.

Special Forces!

This is why, in the late summer of 1983, General Stub-blebine flies down to Fort Bragg, in North Carolina.

Fort Bragg is vast—a town guarded by armed soldiers, with a mall, a cinema, restaurants, golf courses, hotels, swimming pools, riding stables, and accommodations for forty-five thousand soldiers and their families. The general drives past these places on his way to the Special Forces Command Center. This is not the kind of thing you take into the mess hall. This is for Special Forces and nobody else. Still, he’s afraid. What is he about to unleash?

In the Special Forces Command Center, the general decides to start soft. “I’m coming down here with an idea,” he begins.

The Special Forces commanders nod.

“If you have a unit operating outside the protection of mainline units, what happens if somebody gets hurt?” he says. “What happens if somebody gets wounded? How do you deal with that?”

He surveys the blank faces around the room.

“Psychic healing!” he says.

There is a silence.

“This is what we’re talking about,” says the general, pointing to his head. “If you use your mind to heal, you can probably come out with your whole team alive and intact. You won’t have to leave anyone behind.” He pauses, then adds, “Protect the unit structure by hands-off and hands-on healing!”

The Special Forces commanders don’t look particularly interested in psychic healing.

“Okay,” says General Stubblebine. The reception he’s getting is really quite chilly. “Wouldn’t it be a neat idea if you could teach somebody to do this?

General Stubblebine rifles through his bag and produces, with a flourish, bent cutlery.

“What if you could do this?” says General Stubblebine. “Would you be interested?”

There is a silence.

General Stubblebine finds himself beginning to stammer a little. They’re looking at me as if I’m nuts, he thinks. I am not presenting this correctly.

He glances anxiously at the clock.

“Let’s talk about time!” he says. “What would happen if time is not an instant? What if time has an X-axis, a Y-axis, and a Z-axis? What if time is not a point but a space? At any particular time we can be anywhere in that space! Is the space confined to the ceiling of this room, or is the space twenty million miles?” The general laughs. “Physicists go nuts when I say this!”

Silence. He tries again.

“Animals!” says General Stubblebine.

The Special Forces commanders glance at one another.

“Stopping the hearts of animals,” he continues. “Bursting the hearts of animals. This is the idea I’m coming in with. You have access to animals, right?”

“Uh,” say Special Forces. “Not really …”

General Stubblebine’s trip to Fort Bragg was a disaster. It still makes him blush to recall it. He ended up taking early retirement in 1984. Now, the official history of army intelligence, as outlined in their press pack, basically skips the Stub-blebine years, 1981–84, almost as if they didn’t exist.

In fact, everything you have read so far has for the past two decades been a military intelligence secret. General Stub-blebine’s doomed attempt to walk through his wall and his seemingly futile journey to Fort Bragg remained undisclosed right up until the moment that he told me about them in room 403 of the Tarrytown Hilton, just north of New York City, on a cold winter’s day two years into the War on Terror.

“To tell you the truth, Jon,” he said, “I’ve pretty much blocked the rest of the conversation I had with Special Forces out of my head. Whoa, yeah. I’ve scrubbed it from my mind! I walked away. I left with my tail between my legs.”

He paused, and looked at the wall.

“You know,” he said, “I really thought they were great ideas. I still do. I just haven’t figured out how my space can fit through that space. I simply kept bumping my nose. I couldn’t … No. Couldn’t is the wrong word. I never got myself to the right state of mind.” He sighed. “If you really want to know, it’s a disappointment. Same with the levitation.”

Some nights, in Arlington, Virginia, after the general’s first wife, Geraldine, had gone to bed, he would lie down on his living-room carpet and try to levitate.

“And I failed totally. I could not get my fat ass off the ground, excuse my language. But I still think they were great ideas. And do you know why?”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because you cannot afford to get stale in the intelligence world,” he said. “You cannot afford to miss something. You don’t believe that? Take a look at terrorists who went to flying schools to learn how to take off but not how to land. And where did that information get lost? You cannot afford to miss something when you’re talking about the intelligence world.”

There was something about the general’s trip to Fort Bragg that neither of us knew the day we met. It was a piece of information that would soon lead me into what must be among the most whacked-out corners of George W. Bush’s War on Terror.

What the general didn’t know—what Special Forces kept secret from him—was that they actually considered his ideas to be excellent ones. Furthermore, as he proposed his clandestine animal-heart-bursting program and they told him that they didn’t have access to animals, they were concealing the fact that there were a hundred goats in a shed just a few yards down the road.

The existence of these hundred goats was known only to a select few Spec...

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0 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 La chevre 11 août 2010
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Bien reçu le colis. Objet correspondant à mes attentes. Plus déçu par le texte... mais Amazon n'y est pour rien.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 étoiles sur 5  131 commentaires
252 internautes sur 271 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This is not an investigative report of conspiracy. 10 octobre 2005
Par Patrick Roberts - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
Some reviewers have completely missed the point. This is the author's journey researching an inane army experiment, and what manifestations may remain. This book is no more an investigative proof than Ronson's last novel was an argument for joining extremists. This book is Errol Morris, not Art Bell.

Wholly enjoyable and entertaining, it's hard to remember at times this is non-fiction, as some of the interviews seem insane. The presentation base comes from declassified goverment documents. However, they are not included, nor are there any footnotes, because Ronson is not trying to convince the reader of anything. He is writing about his interviews and conversations investigating the chronology of the "First Earth Battalion" manual. I believe Ronson started this project intending it to be much funnier (he is a comedian after all), but some of the subject matter and personas he found, though entertaining, aren't laughable: staring at a goat trying to kill sounds funny, but imagine the views of a person who wishes they had the ability to kill people with their mind. So it is a perspective on the legacy of a few persons relieved of common sense, that were given a little power and a budget.

You might enjoy this book if you:

- Find Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) funny.

- Like character documentaries, like those by Errol Morris.

- Enjoy psychology.

- Want a light introduction to a bizzare goverment-funded experiment.

You probably won't enjoy this book if you:

- Are looking for hard documentation on goverment conspiracy

- Believe our goverment would never do bad things to people

- Are uncomfortable with light critisism of George W. Bush
75 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 worth reading, but... 15 septembre 2006
Par Stantz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
I had the hardest time deciding whether or not to read this book based on the various Amazon reviews. While I love a good conspiracy theory or two, I try to avoid books either written by conspiracy fanatics who have no objectivity, or conspiracy comics who treat the subject from a distance and use it to poke fun. As you can imagine, it's tough to find middle ground.

Goats ends up being worth reading for fitting somewhere into my realm of acceptibility, but sadly not enough to merit more than 3 stars. Ronson definitely keeps his distance during the first half of the book - as military men, some of whom are clearly unhinged to some extent, talk about crazy programs, Ronson makes it clear that he's not confirming or denying the allegations, merely quoting. And here, the book takes a comic tone and allows the reader to decide who to believe. On top of this, the book feels light, as if little research beyond interviews was done. Perhaps there's no other way to get this kind of information. Regardless, every chapter was more of a series of anecdotes than anything.

For the second half, the tone turns more serious as it becomes clear that there is a spider web connecting many of the participants of various army plots, and here Ronson suddenly suddenly gets too serious without enough evidence. I was fine with the tone change, and the book does lead you on the same inner feeling: at first, "this is nuts" to "hey, maybe there's something seriously wrong going on." The problem is that this is where we needed a lot more hardcore research. And yet the book still felt light and airy. I mean, Ronson didn't even bother to look up the name of the song or band that features the words "Burn Mother*ucker, Burn!" A small point, but one that will stand out to American readers as an obvious example of not doing all the homework. Also, the history of these programs is basically presented as Ronson discovered them, and the problem with this is that he backtracks and overlaps on himself a zillion times rather than present the material sequentially. Again, I see the reasons for taking us on the same path of discovery he did, but I'm not convinced it was for the best.

I think that there's a better book that could've been written buried in here somewhere, and what actually hit the page isn't necessarily bad. It just ultimately comes off as too light to be as important as it could have been. For those who were in my quandry of deciding whether to buy it, I recommend it, but I felt a lot better buying it used.
82 internautes sur 103 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 alternately funny and horrifying 1 mai 2005
Par James J. Lippard - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
This is a fascinating tale about people who are completely nuts. Unfortunately, many of these people who are completely nuts hold or have held senior positions in the United States military. Ronson rarely writes a judgmental word, but allows his subject to speak for themselves--and hang themselves with their own words. (At least, that's the impression--obviously Ronson has selected which of their words to present.)

Ronson looks at ideas for a "First Earth Battallion" by soldier-turned-newage-marketing-guru Jim Channon, who proposed in 1979 that the military put greater emphasis on influencing people with alternative weapons such as paranormal abilities and music. Ronson traces the use of music in warfare to the use of loud music by the FBI at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas and as a torture technique used by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay and in Iraq.

The book covers a wide-ranging territory of nuttiness, including Uri Geller (who is quoted in the book suggesting that he has been re-activated for use by the U.S. military), the remote viewers at Ft. Meade (Joe McMoneagle, Ingo Swann, Pat Price, Ed Dames, etc.), the non-lethal weaponry of UFO and paranormal investigator Col. John Alexander, the connections between the remote viewers and Courtney Brown--and then to Art Bell and Heaven's Gate, and the CIA's MKULTRA experiments and the death-by-LSD of Frank Olson and his son Eric's search for the facts about his death.

The book is alternately amusing and horrifying. It would be funny if this craziness wasn't taken so seriously by high-ranking officials who have put it into practice, wasting tax dollars and occasionally producing horribly unethical outcomes.

I highly recommend this book.
15 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Not funny, as it should be 12 septembre 2009
Par Michael J. Tresca - Publié sur Amazon.com
Achat vérifié
This book isn't funny.

Mind you, Ronson knows exactly what he's doing by presenting the book as "hilarious" - it starts out completely absurd, with the high-minded hippy ideals of a shell-shocked Vietnam veteran presented to a beleaguered military under siege. Jim Channon, seeking solace in the emerging human potential movement in California, struck a chord with the top brass, and the repercussions are still felt today.

But instead of being used as a positive force for peace, the military twisted it into a force of evil. Ronson ties it all together: September 11, Heaven's Gate, sticky foam, Abu-Grahib, Waco, Art Bell, Projects STARGATE, MKULTRA, and ARTICHOKE, and yes, Barney. Goat-staring is the least of our worries.

The thread running throughout all these seemingly disconnected blips in history is that they are a new form of psychological warfare that is innocuous, ruthless, and entirely effective. The Men Who Stare at Goats would be just another conspiracy-laden anti-government diatribe if it wasn't for the fact that Ronson always takes the next step as an investigative reporter. He finds people to back up the wild claims, interviews them, and often challenges their wild theories.

The sad thing is, very few of these shadowy contacts hide their past. Almost unilaterally, Ronson calls them all out by name and they step forward, sharing a story that sheds a disconcerting light on America's human rights record. Where is the vigorous conversation, the protests, the discord over these revelations? The facts are right here before us - even photographic evidence -- but we laugh about Barney being used to torture prisoners and we shake our heads at the poor, misguided psychics. But outrage? There's no outrage. We save our vitriol for partisan debates in our own government.

Eric Olson, son of Frank Olson, a military scientist who died under mysterious circumstances while working on MKULTRA, sums it up best:

"The old story is so much fun, why would anyone want to replace it with a story that's not fun. You see...this is no longer a happy, feel-good story...People have been brainwashed by fiction...so brainwashed by the Tom Clancy thing, they think, 'We know this stuff. We know the CIA does this.' Actually, we know nothing of this. There's no case of this, and all this fictional stuff is like an immunization against reality. It makes people think they know things that they don't know and it enables them to have a kind of superficial quasi-sophistication and cynicism which is just a thin layer beyond which they're not cynical at all."

Have you heard? There's a movie based on this book coming out starring George Clooney.

It's a comedy.
11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Difficult to Know 3 juin 2005
Par Trent Austin - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié
It's hard to know what to make of Ronson's book. I bought it because I saw him on C-SPAN2's BookTV, and found him engaging and credible, with a keen sense of the absurd. But as others here have noted, his book is thin on documentation, and the claims made in it are outlandish. On the other hand, if they are true, they're just the sort of thing you would expect there to be scant documentary evidence of. Therein lies the rub.

Either way, the book is well-written, and quick and entertaining to read. My suggestion is to read it for yourself and form your own conclusions about its claims. And by the way, if you find the sort of thing Ronson writes about interesting, you should rent the DVD "Suspect Zero," starring Ben Kingsley, which covers some of the same territory and includes some documentaries on one very odd military program.
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98 per cent of the soldiers who did shoot to kill were later found to have been deeply traumatized by their actions. The other 2 per cent were diagnosed as aggressive psychopathic personalities, who basically didnt mind killing people under any circumstances, at home or abroad. &quote;
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The Americans have always been better than the Iraqis at the leaflets. Early on in the first Gulf War, Iraqi PsyOps dropped a batch of their own leaflets on US troops, designed to be psychologically devastating. They read Your wives are back at home having sex with Bart Simpson and Burt Reynolds. &quote;
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