This book compiles a collection of articles, authored by Gray, that have appeared in the New Statesman magazine over a number of years. An attempt has been made to arrange the articles into a coherent entity, with a degree of success. In common with Gray's previous publication, Straw Dogs, this book does not make comfortable reading.
The central hypothesis of the early chapters (Part 1) concerns the illusion of progress in society; Gray is utterly compelling here, bringing in environmental and technological evidence. The structure of our present society is examined and framed by history in Part 2 with references to Hobbes and Joseph Conrad. Gray forsees a bleak, but realistic, future in which the battle for global resources is exasipated by increasing global industrialisation. This, he predicts, will fuel natural resource wars. There are anomalies within this section, for example an essay concerning the legalisation of torture.
The '5 Star' standard of Parts 1 and 2 is not retained in Part 3. This final section concerns international politics of Europe, the USA and Britain. I found all but the last of these fanciful, particularly recommendations to the UK Conservative Party agenda. The final essay discusses the 'Society of the Spectacle Revisited' and the role of celebrity in today's society.
In summary, I greatly enjoyed the ideas that this book compiles. As ever, Gray is thought provoking and disturbing in equal measure. If you witnessed the TV series 'The Power of Nightmares' or are familiar with the concept of 'Luxury Fever' you will enjoy this immensely (I did!).