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on 25 January 2005
It's hard to explain the liberation I felt after reading this book. The maxim 'knowledge is power' has never been more true. Huxley shows with such clarity and lucidity, the way all our lives are controlled by over-organisation, indoctrination and propaganda. "The stuff of conspiracy theories," people might say? Think again.
Huxley shows how peoples perception of freedom is based on what you are told and understand freedom as actually being or looking like. He explodes this idea and goes on to show how our lives are shaped and controlled by those we elect to 'lead us'. To show how this can be done he cites the obvious yet accutely sharp example of Hitler's use of propaganda in bringing an entire German nation round to his way of thinking.
It goes without saying that if Hitler can use propaganda on such a dramtic level to control peoples views and ideas of what 'the truth' is, then its not beyond anyone else with large amounts of power to use those methods in other ways.
I urge anyone reading this review to buy the book, read it and pass it on to others. You will never look at the world and our system of governments the same way, ever again. If this leaves your perceptions of the world around you unchanged then Ill give you a refund myself.
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on 9 July 2004
If you have read both Brave New World and 1984 (George Orwell), then you must read this. It has no storyline or plot like the above, but it surely compares and explains both books a little better. It also relates examples from real history (Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia). The book can be seen as both a foreword, an epilogue and the research to "A Brave New World" I very much enjoyed both Brave New World and 1984, but after reading BNW Revisited you will have a completely new perspective of the world around you. A must read after BNW and 1984.
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Amy Goodman recently wrote an article about the forcible removal of "Occupy Wall Street" protesters from Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. They had a library of some 5,000 books that the police hauled off to the dump. One that escaped that fate was this book, and Goodman wrote about how extremely relevant it is to today's events. And so I decided to reread it, a book I had first read half a century ago... and clearly not comprehending much of it at age 15. On the first reading I had not marked a single passage... a habit I adopted not much thereafter. On this reading, a passage is marked on virtually every other page.

Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1931. Along with George Orwell's 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics) they were the essential reads of the `50's and `60's in terms of how the future might play out. In "Revisited", written in the late `50's, Huxley frankly compares the two visions, and says that his was the more correct, while conceding the merits of Orwell's vision. And I agree. The courser brutality of totalitarian control, exemplified by the rats dancing around one's head, as Orwell prophesized, is there for sure, but it is not the preferred or more common means of control utilized by the power elites. They definitely prefer the "velvet glove" approach of propaganda, the diversionary "circuses" (read today: the celebrity culture, the "missing white women," and professional sports), and the intoxicating "soma" of consumerism.

The author seemed to uncannily identify in the `50's so many of the real problems we, who want a truly democratic and free nation, face today. His first chapter is on over-population, which I continue to believe is in the top 3-4 issues that must be addressed. With the advances in public health and nutrition, the death side of the population equation fell dramatically. Huxley says that it took from the time of Christ to the Elizabethan period for the world's population to double. He said that it would double again in half of the 20th century, and would be 5.5 billion by the year 2000. In 2011, it became seven billion. All too correctly, he says: "Unsolved, that problem will render insoluble all our other problems. Worse, still, it will create conditions in which individual freedom and the social decencies of the democratic way of life will become impossible, almost unthinkable."
Another major concern is labeled "over-organization, which he describes as the increasingly regimented social and work structures that are imposed on "the masses" and the increasing concentration of power in the hands of the few (read: the 1%). As he says: "As the little Men disappear, more and more economic power comes to be wielded by fewer and fewer people." It is natural that he draws on the writing of C. Wright Mills, particularly The Power Elite. Bon mots? " The beauty of tidiness is used as a justification for despotism." Certainly one of the justifications for "clearing" Zoccotti Park.

There are a couple of chapters, one on propaganda in a democratic society; the other, in a totalitarian one. Without being able to specifically envision the rise of Fox "News" he says: "In the democratic West there is economic censorship and the media of mass communication are controlled by members of the Power Elite," and "But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop distraction now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio, television and the cinema...for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation." For being written in the `50's, prescience squared.

Other sections are dedicated to the consumer society, and the relentless efforts at selling the latest goods. Fittingly, he quotes from Vance Packard's Hidden Persuaders, The and discusses how the same techniques can be used for political control.

In the final chapter, on what can be done, he discusses the writ of habeas corpus, and suggests that there should be a writ of habeas mentem: "But here can be preventive legislation-- an outlawing of the psychological slave trade, a statute for the protection of minds against the unscrupulous purveyors of poisonous propaganda...modeled on the statutes for the protection of bodies against the unscrupulous purveyors of adulterated food and dangerous drugs." He also says, clearly projected the rise of the 1%: "We know that it is unsafe to allow power to be concentrated in the hands of a ruling oligarchy; nevertheless power is in fact being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands." The last sentence: "It is still our duty to do whatever we can to resist them." An impressive read the second time around; a vital book for your library, in Zuccotti Park, or wherever it might be. 5-stars, plus.
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on 28 November 2007
Aldous Huxley's classic book, "Brave New World," is very interesting and such a profound read. This book should be strongly recommended.

In a way, this book is prophetic. While it is considered a science fiction, it remarkably parallel to that of today's world. Projecting suggestions through our sleeps are one of modes of mind control.

Today, we are all been subject constantly to 'suggestions' to one form or another, including a controlled media. And, we are ignoring the madness and believing in the lies brought forth by our so-called 'leaders' through the media. They can even seep the 'suggestions' through education, through televisions, through strobe lights, and through any media of sorts. And, we do not have a strong psychological resistance to these suggestions.

There is very important quote from this book that speaks of mind control:

"Till at last the child's mind is these suggestions and the sum of the suggestions is the child's mind. And not the child's mind only. The adult's mind too - all his life long. The mind that judges and desires and decides is made up of these suggestions. But these suggestions are our suggestions...suggestions from the State."

Brave New World is similar to George Orwell's "1984" in term of bureaucratized society where one lost self-identity and under a complete control of the state. Both "1984" and Brave New World do indeed had an impact on me as well anyone else in reading them.

Huxley's book is strongly recommended and receive more than five stars because it holds the real warning...
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on 26 November 2010
This book by Aldous Huxley is a very chilling read.It predicts the rise of globalisation by large companies,the propagandisation of the media by mega rich individuals with their own political agendas and the loss of individual freedoms.
As you read the book you start to realise how much ground has been lost by the
individual and how much has been gained by the establishment and the powers that
be.A very real but very frightening glimpse of the future.Highly recommended.
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on 4 July 2007
I read this book shortly after reading 1984 - having heard them being compared - and it definitely provided a good contrast. While Orwell's vision is dark, gloomy, filled with hate and despair, Huxley's world could almost be seen as a Utopian fantasy.

There is an overwhelming sense of comfort and "happiness" within society that is brought about through two important things: recreational drugs and psychological conditioning. Death, relationships, class differences and work do not provide worry. This is in fact what makes Huxley's work so brilliant: it portrays a Dystopia that operates so perfectly that it is disquieting rather than frightening. Because society does indeed work for the good of everyone in a hedonistic sense, the logic behind the system can only be challenged by pure human instinct, as voiced by the central character in the book: "But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."

However, although the book brings up excellent questions regarding totalitarianism, and freedom of thought, it is somewhat lacking in story. The characters are very hard to empathise with and although the book starts with a central character, Bernard Marx, the focus shifts then to John ("the Savage"), leaving you with a sense that the novel is written for description rather than story-telling. The reader is able to get a very good mental grasp on the problems within society, but since the story isn't gripping, you finish the book feeling very detached from the characters and the world they live in.
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on 3 October 2005
After years of hearing people refer to Brave New World - both online and in real life - I decided to read it myself and find out just what all the commotion was about. Having done so, I will share my thoughts with you.
The story is set in a future society where humans are no longer born but instead grown from embryos in huge research labs. Years of trial and error has resulted in scientists being able to produce up to 15,000 individuals from a single embryo - all of which end up being twins. Immediately they are conditioned to think and feel and act in certain ways which make society what it should be - happy, stable, strong, and united. As they sleep they are played voice recordings which, to cut a long story short, programme them into what society wants them to be. One of the many recordings being "Everyone belongs to everyone else".
In a time when humans are made in batches, pyshcologically conditioned, mentally and physically matured in a fraction of the natural time, encouraged to participate in 'errotic play' from a young age, given 'soma' (a recreational drug) to cure lows, taught to throw out old/dirty/torn clothes and buy new ones, sheltered from dirt and disease, prevented from ever becoming pregnant, told that everyone belongs to everyone else (in effect everyone has sex with everyone without thinking twice as from a young age this is taught to be perfectly natural), given medicine so that you physically look like a 20 year old all your life until around the age of 50 when you drop dead, after hearing all this you are left with many questions. Questions like 'How could it ever work?', 'What would a society of clones be like?', 'Why on earth did they do it in the first place?', and 'Is everyone truly happy?'. Well, this book answers all these questions and many more, all the while introducing you to ideas you may never have come accross or thought too ridiculous to ponder over.
Furthermore, what would happen if someone from the 'old world' was given a chance to see this society? Would they accept the offer? What would they think of being called a 'Savage' just because they were born into a family with a mother and father, just because they weren't conditioned, just because they wasted their time reading books, just because they showed an emotion called love, just because they were like you and me.
Brave New World is one of the most fascinating books you will ever read and Huxley must've had a great mind to write such a masterpiece - and all in 230 pages.
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on 28 October 2000
i have long debated in my mind whether it is better to be ignorantly happy or critically aware and unhappy. i decided a few months ago that there must be something more to the purpose of life than mere contentmet and quick fix happiness - there must be something bigger and more important. i believe that it is this, amongst other things, that Huxley is saying in this novel. the citizens are happy, they are conditioned to be happy, they are satisfied. but this isn't enough for Huxley. this is one of the few novels i have read which all the way through i was thinking "this is brilliant". it is hard to believe this was written 70 years ago, as it could just have easily been written yesterday, and indeed, with the current trend for apathy in our generation, probably should have done. this book completely concurs with my view on the purpose of life. it is about feeling and experiencing and knowing and growing and learning, and questioning. feeling passion and love and intimacy and heartache and jealousy and love and pain. about us all having an individual soul and a mind and heart and using them all. but enough of my hippie ramblings - read this book - i urge you. and while you are there, watch fight club and look for the comparisons.
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on 22 December 2006
BNW while not perhaps truly great in a literary sense, is most certainly extraordinary in a prophetic one, and in its way a deeper book than 1984, displaying Huxley's subtler understanding of totalitarian's potential wiles, and also his wry and absurdist sense of humour...the Epsilon Semi-Morons and their newspapers of no more than one syllable comes to mind. Now what could that be lampooning in the modern world? Huxley once described it as perhaps fraudulent to pretend to be a novelist, but that he was more of an essayist who with much pleasure used the novel form to embody his ideas. Having said that though, I think he could write works that are fine works of art, with special mention to Eyeless in Gaza and also Those Barren Leaves.
Anyway to get back on track, BNW Revisited is a work that deserves as wide a readership as its more famous younger brother, and displays Huxley's remarkably incisive, elegant and clear thinking about issues of great importance, which can be broadly grouped together as the ever present threat to man's freedom from those in power. As Huxley wrote, "A democracy is a society dedicated to the proposition that power is often abused, and should be entrusted to officials in limited amounts only." This is especially important now as particularly in modern US and Britain, civil liberties are eroded by centralising governments promising us that these increased powers are for own good. Revisited contains amongst much else very elightening thoughts on propaganda in a supposedly free society. Anyway these two books can hardly be more highly recommended, and despite the heavy subject matter, somehow manage to lighten rather than deaden one's mood and worldview due to the self-evident uplifting sense of Huxley's own self. Those impressed with BNW should probably check out Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov as Huxley said that he gained much of the inspiration from its magnificent book within a book, The Legend of the Grand Inquisitor.
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on 11 April 2009
Society really is getting more and more like this.

This is a vision of the future where the population is controlled by subtlety and manipulation, the basic premise being that if people are too doped up to realise that they have been conned by a tiny minority who have everything then that elite can remain in charge for ever.

In Huxley's world the method of control is to program people to indulge only their most transitory and materialistic desires all of which can be fulfilled quite readily and in doing so suppress any idea that there "might be more to life than this" and this leaves the population with happy but trivial lives.

The morality of this is questioned through the introduction of an outsider to the society and his actions form the basis of the plot. To be honest I think the story isn't as involving as the world it is set in but the questions the book raised easily merit this book classic status.

It seems we are getting closer and closer to the kind of happy trivial life that Huxley forced upon his population and if you are inclined to wonder whether or not there is more to life than work and shopping then this book is probably going to be right up your street.
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