True Tales Odd Enough to Stop a Farm Animal's Heart
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of New York Times
Posted: December 5th, 2006
At the start of the twisted treasure hunt that is "The Men Who Stare at Goats," the journalist Jon Ronson appears to be looking for furtive, paranoid quacks who play mind games. Take the goats of the title: Mr. Ronson cites a hundred of them. They have been used in top-secret experiments by psychic spies whose existence is not officially acknowledged by the United States Army. Military psychics are so well hidden that they aren't covered by the Army's coffee budget. It makes them cranky to have to bring their own coffee to work. "The damn psychic spies should be keeping their damn mouths shut, instead of chitchatting all over town about what they did." So says retired Maj. Gen. Albert N. Stubblebine III, the first of the many characters redolent of "Dr. Strangelove" who are found in this jaw-dropper of a -- hard to believe, but, yes -- nonfiction story. Some of these experts contend that a goat's heart can be stopped by the intense gaze of a certain kind of supersoldier. "Goat didn't have a chance," one of these tough guys [says]. Mr. Ronson ... describes the effort to deploy a Moscow scientist who had previously sent subliminal messages to Red Army troops ... in the Branch Davidian standoff. This scientist didn't work out because he was unwilling to transmit ... a bogus voice of God. He finds a prologue in MK-ULTRA, the real C.I.A. "Manchurian Candidate" research of the 1950's, which involved the disastrous use of LSD as a potential truth serum. And somehow Mr. Ronson is able to keep his book both light and nightmarish. [He] remains terrifically adept at capturing the horror of these developments without losing track of their lunacy.