Things Fell Apart – new Jon Ronson Radio 4 and podcast series

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The author and broadcaster investigates historical battles of ‘the culture wars’. 

Radio 4 have announced a new series from Jon Ronson, author of The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stare at Goats.

In Things Fell Apart, he will track down the people involved in some of the defining battles that have raged across cultural lines in recent decades.

The incidents investigated span more than 50 years, from the polarisation galvanised by the arrival in America of the 60s counter-culture, through the moral panics of the 80s and 90s; from the days of the early internet to the forces unleashed by ‘post-truth’ politics.

Across the eight-part series, stories will include:

How did a kid growing up in the alps in the 1970s, dreaming of making Fellini-like movies in Hollywood, inadvertently kickstart a campaign of murders in the 1990s?

How did a poem by Liverpool poet Roger McGough, misinterpreted by a West Virginian church minister’s wife, contribute to events that led to the bombing of a school in 1974?

Who was the very first person to be publicly shamed because of something they did online? And how did the incident shape the internet we all live with today?

And how might a prank played by a Hollywood actor on his friend have helped to inspire the Capitol insurrection of January 2021?

Extraordinary tales

Introducing the show, Ronson says: “If you’ve ever argued with someone on social media about, say, cancel culture or mask wearing, then you are a soldier in the culture wars. These wars can obsess us, tear families apart. I wanted to find the origin stories, the people whose choices led us to where we are today. And I think I’ve uncovered some extraordinary tales – nuanced and surprising and full of twists and turns. These are human stories that really shed light on how we got here.”

Things Fell Apart is a BBC Audio production for Radio 4 and the full press release is here.

The series beings on Tuesday 9th November at 9PM and will be available as a podcast on BBC Sounds.