'Longing on a large scale' Delillo writes 'is what makes history', and 'Underworld' is very much a book about longing. About America's irresistible longing for meaning and validation, order and consequence, a collective consciousness of faith and ideal and the sub-culture, 'the lost country inside America' that is its discarded identity, its 'waste'. Delillo evokes the intensity of this longing with a vital, imagery-driven prose that is both unsettling and breath-taking. The burden of war, real and imagined and the squalor of urban decay, the casual brutality of sex and death and the vast outpouring of the Internet. I didn't feel it was overly long or ponderous. It was a joy to read as much for the richness of the language as for its sheer size and depth. Delillo's America often seems a very desolate place, a country of secrets and empty spaces, but also uncompromising and powerful. As a European I don't know if this is a book Americans identify with, whether or not Delillo genuinely captures the mood of recent history. But he does capture the fascinating extremes that the American culture represents to non-Americans, the glory and despair of ambition and, most importantly, the universal dangers of self-inflicted ignorance.