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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Political Madness
A brilliantly-written and thought-provoking account of political extremism in the 1980s. Lessing's novel is set among a group of 'hard-left' men and women, all of whom are intelligent, and all of whom have given up potentially good careers to work for revolution - without having a very clear idea of what this means. The depictions of 1980s London are brilliant, and...
Published on 18 Aug 2011 by Kate Hopkins

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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of craftsmanship, but failure as piece of entertainment
Doris Lessing had just won the Nobel Prize for literature. Curious, I decided to give this book a try (I don't believe it is the one that won the prize, but it caught my eye).

Having read it, there are a couple of observations:

First: Don't read the back cover. It tells you everything that happens, and nothing about the book. The entire book loses...
Published on 26 July 2010 by Federhirn


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Political Madness, 18 Aug 2011
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
A brilliantly-written and thought-provoking account of political extremism in the 1980s. Lessing's novel is set among a group of 'hard-left' men and women, all of whom are intelligent, and all of whom have given up potentially good careers to work for revolution - without having a very clear idea of what this means. The depictions of 1980s London are brilliant, and Lessing manages to make some of the members of the group very lovable, while showing us how crazy their political vision is. The craziness extends to no one noticing that Alice (the central character) is actually mentally ill; as Lessing notes in the afterward, in a society of political, or religious, extremists, lunacy can go completely unnoticed. A wonderful read, that will stay with me for a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Good Terrorist, 1 Feb 2009
By 
M. Capdet "Cristi" (Barcelona, Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Excellent up to the end, especially for those who have been part of organized leftist groups. Yet, the ending leaves you with the feeling that the writer didn't know how to finish the story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful Read, 7 Jan 2014
This review is from: The Good Terrorist (Paperback)
A book without chapters!, I got my moneysworth out of my bookmark. It was an insightful book on squat living in the 80's, and the militant mindsets of the egotistical young. Lessing seems to focus a lot on the psychological intuitions of Alice. Psychological but sometimes just psychic, when she just "knew" things. Is Lessing modelling her own human insights on Alice. She never did explain how they got the water tank into the attic although she was overkeen to quip how do people get new watertanks delivered into their attic when the doors are just too narrow. Alices irrationalities and terrifying temper were in conflict with her razor sharp mind and empathy which made for a very interesting person. An "A' type personality with a lot of emotional issues. The scenes with the CCU gathering, came alive with irony, when it became apparent these "revolutionaries" just wanted to eat, drink and party as when Lessing mocked Alice's upset at losing the family bourgeoisie home, despite her loathing of the bourgeoisie lifestyle. However, this mocking only seemed apparent in a few scenes and seems a little out of kilter with the rest of the book. The other characters weren't as three dimensional. Overall an insightful and enjoyable book on human nature, bureaucracy, and squat living that will make you appreciate your home comforts
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, thought-provoking book with an explosive ending., 6 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Terrorist (Hardcover)
First published in 1985, the story is told from the perspective of Alice, a bossy mixed-up aspiring revolutionary in her mid-thirties. After being evicted from her mother's house with her bullying immature boyfriend, Jasper, she joins a disorganised but idealist group of young people in a disgusting squat scheduled for demolition. As her boyfriend and his idealist friend head on futile trips abroad to Ireland and Russia to offer their services to the likes of the IRA and KGB, Alice stubbornly clings to her communist ideals, even after events lead to her to doubt the competence of the group.
Although the central character is organised and is devoted to improving the living conditions of her squat-mates, Alice is not always likeable or sympathetic. She is extremist in her views and is suspicious of anything or anyone who is part of the mainstream society she and her comrades have opted to drop out of. After first reading the book, I thought it was going to be a one-sided attack on extreme left political groups, particularly as many of the characters are selfish, irresponsible and work-shy who only seem to live when revelling in conflict and battles with authority. But after witnessing brutality, bureaucracy, the waste of potential and sheer ugliness of their surroundings, you can all but sympathise with their tragic plight.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Good Terrorist and I really wanted the book to continue so I could find out more about the characters after they left the squat. Perhaps Doris Lessing could write a sequel about what happened sixteen years later?
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of craftsmanship, but failure as piece of entertainment, 26 July 2010
By 
Doris Lessing had just won the Nobel Prize for literature. Curious, I decided to give this book a try (I don't believe it is the one that won the prize, but it caught my eye).

Having read it, there are a couple of observations:

First: Don't read the back cover. It tells you everything that happens, and nothing about the book. The entire book loses any chance to surprise if you read the back cover summary first.

Second: I can see why Doris Lessing is highly acclaimed.

And third: ... But I don't think I'll be reading any other of her books.

The characters she creates feel completely, utterly, and unquestionably real. In fact, having read the book, I am half convinced that some people I know must have been squatters once. She certainly manages to capture a very complete, rich and genuine atmosphere in her writing, down to the smallest character details. Perhaps because they are so real, the story does not have a set plot, and develops sometimes in surprising directions, never quite leaving the characters to be in full control of their own fate.

That said, I could not stand a single one of the characters, and wanted them all to die horribly. Not because they were communist, nor even because they were self-contradictory communists. No, it's their mixture of arrogance, selective blindness and prejudice that makes these characters so difficult to bear. Sure, they are all messed up and not quite right in the head. But they are also willfully stupid.

In amongst these arrogant, hypocritical wannabe-revolutionaries lives Alice, hero of the story. 30 years old, but having the mental maturity of a 14-year-old, she has talents for organising stuff / making things work, and single-handedly turns a hellhole of a house into something even middle class people can imagine themselves living in. She also has almost supernatural abilities to read people and body language. Which makes her easily the most competent person in this book, if it weren't for her selective memory and tendency to self-delude, along with almost inexplicable rage and hatred that overwhelms her frequently.

For the vast majority of its pages, this book deals with Alice slowly transforming the house, and with the strange, changing community that inhabits it. Clearly, this book is not written for thriller readers or light reading on a holiday.

All in all, a masterly writing effort, which is almost unreadable for me because there is only so much time I'm willing to spend in the imaginary company of these vile people that inhabit the pages, and because it is too real to be entertaining. Well, and because the cover promised humour, wit, and a dramatic plot, when the actual story has nothing I could find funny, and nothing that entertained me.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly realistic, 17 Feb 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Terrorist (Paperback)
This is a highly realistic novel about a Communist gang that turns to terrorism in 80s London. Lessing describes with great detail the process of rebuilding a squat and holding a radical conference there. I would be very interested to know how she managed to research such an accurate picture of this underground process. The main characters live a blinkered existence that may infuriate the reader as much as it does the characters' much-abused families! However, there are such characters in existence. The political scenes also contain many debates that also continue to divide the left, such as support for the IRA or genetic debates. Like any volunteer organisation, the "CCU" in this book relies on one or two hard-working people to support a number of essentially selfish individuals. My only quibble is with the ending - would the KGB really continue to keep in contact with the CCU after such a clumsy attempt at terrorism?
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3.0 out of 5 stars If you love literature well worth a read, 11 April 2014
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This review is from: The Good Terrorist (Paperback)
This book is excellently written and a beautiful piece of literature and it has inspired me to read other Doris Lessing books. I can completely understand why she won the noble prize for literature. I'm not sure however what Doris Lessing was trying to say. Is it a comment or capture of 1980s leftist movement, was she sympathising with these characters? Does she dislike these characters and showing them up as completely deluded? Is it up to the reader to make their own minds up? At times it does feel like nothing is happening with the characters or plot, maybe this was intended to make the reader feel like that these people are deluded and going now-where. However I did find myself so engrossed in the book and swiftly made it to the end. The end however I did feel a little bit disappointed by - the book and characters just tailed off into nothing - again was this the point of the characters and their hopeless, naive, political vision.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars reality, 26 Feb 2008
By 
This books description of children of the middleclass and their struggle with trying to be revolusionaries is excellent, it rings true for any child of the 60's who argued late into the night about policitics! the main character Alice is so disturbingly normal yet essentric that you almost want to reach in and help her!, a great insightful look at the lives of thoes who choose not to conform, as with other Doris lessing books a joy to read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 400-page waste of time., 29 April 2013
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This review is from: The Good Terrorist (Paperback)
I had to buy this for my course, and honestly, it was a 400-page waste of time. None of the characters are likable, and though I can appreciate what Lessing is trying to do, this is not a novel I enjoyed reading. The majority of the tale is of a woman cleaning a house. And it doesn't get much more exciting than that.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into 80's Marxists., 31 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Good Terrorist (Paperback)
I found this book to be well worth reading if you have ever romantisized about squatting, and / or socialism, as it is a real eye opener into what life was like for Marxist middle class drop outs in the 80's. Although I found myself wanting to scream at a lot of the characters not to be so stupid I did find it a very interesting read, but was left wanting to know more about the main characters family as they seemed to be only mildly touched upon. Not an easy book, this novel is likely to stay with you for some time afterwards, whilst you try to convince yourself that it could never happen.... could it?
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The Good Terrorist
The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing (Paperback - 17 Jan 2013)
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