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High Society [Paperback]

Ben Elton
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 July 2003

The war on drugs has been lost but for want of the courage to face the fact that the whole world is rapidly becoming one vast criminal network. From pop stars and princes to crack whores and street kids. From the Groucho Club toilets to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, we are all partners in crime.

HIGH SOCIETY is a story or rather a collection of interconnected stories that takes the reader on a hilarious, heart breaking and terrifying journey through the kaleidoscope world that the law has created and from which the law offers no protection.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552999954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552999953
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Elton is one of Britain's most provocative and entertaining writers. From celebrity to climate change, from the First World War to the end of the world, his books give his unique perspective on some of the most controversial topics of our time.

He has written twelve major bestsellers, including Stark, Popcorn, Inconceivable (filmed as Maybe Baby, which he also directed), Dead Famous, High Society (WH Smith People's Choice Award 2003) and The First Casualty.

He has also written some of television's most popular and incisive comedy, including The Young Ones, Blackadder and The Man From Auntie. His stage work includes three West End plays and the hit musicals The Beautiful Game and We Will Rock You.

He is married with three children.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Ben Elton's new novel High Society initially appears to be a cautionary tale about Britain today, but its vision of a society totally in thrall to criminality has elements of the visionary novel about it. Happily, the state of the nation is not (yet) quite as awful as it's rendered in this terrifying kaleidoscope. We're taken into a world in which drug use holds total sway, and the whole world essentially functions as a single criminal network. From royalty and the upper crust to drug abusers and prostitutes--right across the social spectrum--we are (in Elton's unsparing universe) plunging into a criminal world.

Elton's cast of characters is massive, but all (notably a government minister who is trying to push through a bill to legalise drugs) are etched in with maximum vividness. Interestingly, although Elton casts a cold eye across the whole of society (including an unforgiving look at the media) the final effect of the book is anything but bleak. All the trademark wit is here, along with a sense of focus that is considerably more sophisticated than anything Elton has tackled before. As a serious satirical novel (yes, there is such a thing), High Society makes an indelible mark. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A fix of high comedy from a writer who provokes almost as much as he entertains" (Daily Mail)

"As I raced to the end, I found myself applauding Elton. This is a tough subject tackled with courage and commitment" (Will Hutton Observer)

"Packed with Elton's trademark sharp wit and biting social commentary.. colourful and thought-provoking" (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you missed the old Elton . . . 16 Nov 2002
Drugs are the scourge of society. But rather than committing already stretched police resources to solving the problem, why not legalise all drugs? Not just cannabis but heroin, cocaine and E. This is the central premise at the heart of Ben Elton’s new book, a typically vituperative attack on this country’s draconian drug laws.
Writing with a passion and fervour that he hasn’t evidenced in a long time, Elton patiently sets out his argument, using a multitude of characters, and a wonderfully flowing style, without traditional chapters. The main story deals with a government back-bencher’s attempts to get his private member’s bill introduced - a bill to legalise drugs. It gives Elton a marvellous backdrop onto which to paint his story, a story in which everyone takes drugs, the media are nothing but a pack of ravenous jackals and the general public is only interested in sound bytes and celebrities. A story which deals with prostitution, corrupt police and gangsters.
There’s a danger that a story this complex could run away from an author, but Elton is to suave for that, letting many of the stories unfold in the character’s own words. It’s a wonderfully fluent piece of work, with characters that, although obvious characatures, still elicit strong emotion from the reader. If it seems bleak, it’s because this is a bleak subject, but Elton’s customary humour and satire are there to lighten the load.
There are caveats, of course. The prose does lapse into preachiness at times (a side-effect of the author’s fervour) and, of course, not everyone will agree with the points that he raises.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elton does it again 21 Nov 2002
By A Customer
With High Society, Ben Elton has done it again. Having been a major fan of his previous work, I was all over this in a second. All of Eltons trademarks are here. Achingly brilliant observations about the world we live in, dry wit and absolutly spot on humour.
High Society focusses on the fact that in this day of age, there are no truly lawful people. Either we, or someone we know go about there life breaking all mannor of laws. Not nescecarily big things like drug offenses, it could be as small as not cleaning your dogs poop off the street, or copying a friends CD.
The main issue here though is topical (like all of Eltons books) Previously he satarised Big Brother with Dead Famous, and Quentin Tarantino with Popcorn. Now he turns to the current issue of the legalisation of drugs (and one minister who is a great believer in this)
Without giving too much away, needless to say that once again Elton leaves the reader with a lot to think about. How you do your thinking ultimately will skew your opinion of the book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Getting High 14 Nov 2002
By A Customer
There can't be too many social issues left which Ben Elton hasn't sought to address in a novel, but his take on the UK's drug culture has to be one of the most ambitious to date. A large cast of characters enable Elton to approach the issue from several angles. The main protagonists include a backbench Labour MP, Peter Paget, who is seeking to introduce a bold Private Members' Bill for the legalisation of all drugs; a teenage runaway, Jessie, forced into heroin addiction and prostitution; and a kind of post-Robbie Williams beloved bad boy of pop music type character (and winner of a TV show called, amusingly, "Pop Hero"), Tommy Hanson. The characters are cleverly drawn and don't at any time descend into stereotype - Jessie in particular is an appealingly memorable character and Ben Elton resists the temptation, despite her undeniably tragic situation, to portray her simply as a victim.
The stage is therefore set for a well constructed comedy/drama the outcomes of which are never predictable and which finishes, rather oddly, in a very unlikely love story. There are many pleasingly sharp observations on the political climate and the media in particular which clearly demonstrate that Elton, though no longer the stand-up comic in the sparkly suit, has not lost his talent for witty social observation.
Ben Elton's vision is bleak in many respects and some scenarios do leave a bitter aftertaste. If his aim was to advocate, like Peter Paget, for the legalisation of drugs, I didn't come away entirely convinced in spite of some persuasive arguments. However the book is undeniably a good read and does provide food for thought. Elton's writing style and plotting has certainly improved since the publication of his first novel, and in "High Society" he has created an intelligent, unflinching and probably overdue comment on a critically important issue.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic - thought provoking and very funny 18 Sep 2003
By A Customer
If ever there was a case for potentially legalising drugs, this book presents, in my opinion, strong and emotive reasons for doing so. As with many Ben Elton books, the narrative is divided into 'mini chapters', in this case following a series of characters and their experiences with drugs; from the politician, to the prostitute, via the pop star and the junkie. I became completely engrossed by this novel, it even surpasses my previous favourite Elton novel, 'Inconceivable' and once again had me laughing out loud on the train to and from work, much to the amusement of my fellow passengers.
The charactirisation is brilliant,with Elton's usual satire shining through once again, his contempt for various issues, (as always) barely disguised.
Read this book - it's fantastic and will show you another aspect of the drugs 'problem'.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars what a book
What a story the way the writer conveyed it the characters amazing . At one point in the book I gasped out loud ... Read more
Published 1 month ago by M. Rochford
5.0 out of 5 stars top read poor ending but that could only be ...!!
Nice read Ben, of course the entire trust of this work is built on common sense and logical application. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mike Olley
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent product
This is an excellent product and the service was also spot on, so I 100% recommend this product to everyone :)
Published 7 months ago by MR JOHN D MORRIS
3.0 out of 5 stars High Society
Although this novel managed to capture my attention, it was the more sordid side of the novel which I found almost unbelievable. Do people in our society really live like this? Read more
Published 7 months ago by P. J. Pearson
4.0 out of 5 stars Well argued, entertaining and interesting
Ben Elton making an excellent point about the drug war. Finally years later the debate is restarting. Read it now.
Published 9 months ago by D
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Another typical Ben Elton story. The title didn't appeal to me but I was wrong it is very good, buy it!
Published 9 months ago by Jane Hare
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Elton. High Society.
I haven't read any of Ben's books for decades. On finishing this one my first thought was 'Yep: another brilliant one'. Such masterful social observation and story-telling. Read more
Published 9 months ago by D. Foreman
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Elton at his best - good story, humorous and could not be put...
Ben Elton at his best - good story, humorous and could not be put down.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a laugh.
Published 13 months ago by Adam Jacklin
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious
Hilarious book, well written by Elton as always and a good commentary of drugs and the modern world. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Miss K L McCullough
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Really enjoyed this - the second book by Ben Elton that I have read. Not only a very interesting story but also something that gets you thinking about the way that we deal with... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Gary Soars
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