• Things Fell Apart

  • Strange Stories from the History of the Culture Wars
  • By: Jon Ronson
  • Narrated by: Jon Ronson
  • Length: 3 hrs and 43 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (38 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Jon Ronson delves into the extraordinary history of our current cultural conflicts.

From taking the knee to transgender rights, wedge issues are everywhere in modern life - dividing opinions, polarising debate and tearing friendships and families apart. Even something as seemingly innocuous as wearing a facemask can provoke vicious disagreement. But how did we get here, and what does it mean for society going forward? In this gripping series, acclaimed writer and journalist Jon Ronson searches for the origin stories of the hostilities - the pebbles thrown in the pond, creating the ripples that led to where we are today.

His quest leads him from the Swiss Alps in the 1970s to contemporary Michigan, as he tracks down the cultural warriors involved in shaping some of the defining ideological battles of our era. Among them are filmmaker Frank Schaeffer, whose debut documentary triggered the explosive abortion rows that still rage over 40 years later; AIDs activist Steve Pieters, who prompted a crisis of conscience for televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker; Kelly Michaels, a day-care worker embroiled in America's 'Satanic panic'; and Brad Templeton, who shared a joke on a message board in the early days of the internet - and became the very first person to be publicly shamed for something they did online.

Surprising, nuanced and full of unexpected twists, these amazing human stories shed new light on our most ferocious cultural clashes, illuminating how we got caught up in them - and what we can learn from them.

NB: Contains language which some may find offensive and deals with adult themes.

Cast and credits:

Written and presented by Jon Ronson

Produced by Sarah Shebbeare

Assistant Producer: Sam Peach

Original music by Phil Channell

Mixed by Bob Nettles

Editor: Philip Sellars

With Frank Schaeffer, Amanda Robb, Rev Rusty Thomas, Alice Moore, Rev Jim Lewis, Roger McGough, Rev Ron English, Christian Gregory, Jay Bakker, Steve Pieters, Bob Larson, Jon Trott, Kelly Michaels, Brad Templeton, Luisa D'Amato, Brian Reid, Eric Charles, John Sack

With thanks to Trey Kay.

Archive from the PTL network's 'Tammy's House Party' and the 'PTL Club'

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 9 November - 28 December 2021

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic Reviews

"A thoroughly satisfying listen." (Miranda Sawyer, The Guardian)

What listeners say about Things Fell Apart

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

worthwhile

engrossing and thought provoking

makes me want to download and listen to more of his works

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Robson amazes again

Love, love, love Ronson’s amazing storytelling and reporting. The only issue I have is the format. This one is a compilation of radio episodes, so it starts with a promo intro, then every episode has the same opening repeated. This would not be an issue if it were a brief intro, but each one describes the series premise and has the same audio clips. Could be slightly tighter with a little editing. (They DID remove the end credits from all the episodes and tack them on at the end of the book, so it’s possible.) Otherwise, if you are a Ronson fan, this is another great in depth foray into the back story of how we got to today.

In this book, Jon takes us through the origins of the Culture Wars… how evangelicals embraced abortion, even though it was originally ignored as a Catholic cause, educational book bans, how Tammy Fae Bakker became a gay icon, fake news and child abuse, LGBTQA+ rights, etcetera… all leading up to the sparks igniting the events of Jan. 6, 2021 and it’s aftermath.

…and yes, it all ties together…

…and it doesn’t look like it’s going away soon.

Thanks, Jon, for providing the histories, the when, what and why. Looking forward to the next few project!

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I love Jon Ronson

I’ve heard someone say they’d listen to Jon Ronson read the dictionary, and I’m of the same opinion. My fondness for his soothing voice aside, I feel like his books always present an interesting topic, he does a great job interviewing subjects without bias, and really comes off as compassionate and caring. I appreciate this topic, with the frenzy of the past couple of years, it’s a very relevant topic, and despite what sort of unsettling ideas come up here, I seem to walk away not feeling complete despair, but uplifted. I think much of that is due to Ronsons personal journalism style, but again, I’m already a fan, so of course I loved it.

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  • JB R
  • 03-16-22

this is a free podcast

can't believe audible charge for this- it's a free podcast, available everywhere online at no charge.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 04-27-22

Available for free on BBC Sounds app

I know because I listened to it recently, all for free without ads. Also check out his old series on there called Jon Ronson On.

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  • johnnie mcaleney
  • 06-13-22

Is it true this is a free podcast?

Is it true this is a free podcast?

That’s so greedy if it’s true, as if audible listeners don’t spend enough money with audible!!!!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 03-28-22

It's free everywhere and audible charge!

BBC sounds, Spotify, Castbox. All free! Can't believe they are charging. Don't buy! Get it elsewhere

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  • J Fleming
  • 04-03-22

Wish it was longer

Really enjoyed it. I Love everything Jon Ronson does. I just wish it was longer.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Hannah G
  • 03-18-22

Brilliant

Such brilliant, insightful journalism from Ronson (as always). If you’re trying to understand the chaotic social disconnection we’re experiencing these days, the answers are here.

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  • Maurice
  • 03-06-22

am addicted to Jon's amazing books

I read three books for Jon so far, and he increased my awareness about life big time.
thanks Jon for another great book.