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I’ve listened to ‘The Debutante’ by Jon Ronson

I’ve long enjoyed Jon Ronson’s work: his writing in the Guardian, his books, his various radio documentaries and, latterly, his podcasts. I was therefore excited to see that he has a new one out.

‘The Debutante’ profiles Carole Howe, a wealthy former debutante who became a spokesperson for the white supremacist movement before turning undercover informant on that same movement. She was—maybe—spying on neo-Nazis for the US government in the lead up to Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 Oklahoma bombing. It has been hypothesised that if her information had been taken more seriously, then that bombing could have been prevented, saving 168 lives.

The series explores this over three hours or so, and… I just wasn’t that into it. Ronson’s skill as a journalist is normally found in bridging from highly specific individual cases to say something broader about society. Whether because of the relatively short series, or because the circumstances here are so extraordinary, it didn’t feel like Ronson managed that this time. The story never left the bizarre but narrowly drawn world of Howe.

I hope Ronson finds his form again soon.

This post was filed under: Post-a-day 2023, , .

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