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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone in the country should read
Essential reading for residents of the UK. Using real life examples of exploitation and deception, Monbiot unsparingly illustrates how the government is by-and-large more interested in serving its own needs and those of the corporations that support it than those of the British people and environment. The stories he uncovers are truly shocking and disturbing, and detail...
Published on 10 Dec 2002 by ajf93

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some very good points, but too imbalanced
The first thing to note is that this book is out of date now, and is best looked at with historical perspective in mind. Written as a critique of the Labour government, it was written after only 3 years after they were elected in 1997. This instantly throws open one question mark, which is somewhat answered by the text. That question is this: are the criticisms really due...
Published on 9 Feb 2011 by S. Meadows


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some very good points, but too imbalanced, 9 Feb 2011
By 
S. Meadows (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (Paperback)
The first thing to note is that this book is out of date now, and is best looked at with historical perspective in mind. Written as a critique of the Labour government, it was written after only 3 years after they were elected in 1997. This instantly throws open one question mark, which is somewhat answered by the text. That question is this: are the criticisms really due to a young Labour government or are they due to hangovers from 18 years of Conservative rule? There is then a motif that runs through the book of "this was initiated by the Tories, but because Labour didn't stop it immediately, they're the villains of the piece." With this is mind it is no wonder that one of the recommendations on the back cover is from Michael Gove, who is currently (in Feb 2011) the Education Secretary and is in the process of forcing the education system down a cul-de-sac that will inevitably lead to a part privatisation of schools, colleges and universities.

The introduction is a very one-sided polemic which cherry-picks its data and draws rapid conclusions that are not based on sufficient evidence. The general theme is "big corporations are bad and seek to overrule the electorate" This takes no regard of the fact that big corporations are a source of employment which is vital to the economy and that their employees and their bosses ARE part of the electorate.

The structure of the book then looks at 11 main case studies at how the involvement of the private sector into public life has profited companies whilst ripping off the public. The trouble with this is that it lacks longevity. The book was only published 10 years ago (at the time of writing this review, which will be similarly out of date soon!) and already some of the cases are no longer relevant. It might have been good to have a review of the cases in a revised edition, though to the best of my knowledge, Monbiot is not presently working on such a project.

This is not to detract from the validity of some of the cases he makes. Some of them deserve the level of criticism they receive, my point is merely that they lack balance and this reads more as a piece polemic and less like a meticulous study, worthy of serious consideration. Probably the best chapter of the book, which is its most unusual, is a directory of individuals showing how their private roles have conflicted with their public duties. I think it would be quite right to keep this updated as often as possible, in order to be discern who can be trusted and who is compromised.

Where the book really gets unstuck is where it treads my speciality: science. The chapter on genetically modified foods is little more than unevidenced scaremongering. While it is intertwined with some very valid points regarding Monsanto, the core of the chapter doesn't stand up to scrutiny and reads like it was written by a 16 year old who only found out 4 days ago what the term 'genetically modified' actually meant. From here, Monbiot looks at science funding in universities. His key "scare" is that big, scary, evil corporations will dictate the syllabus of university teaching and that by investing in research that is relevant for them, that this is somehow inherently corrupt.

Overall, the book is crying out for an update now that the era of New Labour is over and that of the Con-Dem coalition has begun. There are some really good arguments in here and issues raised that we should be right to get angry over, with PFI probably the biggest problem that is likely to curse this country for the next few decades. However, the lack of balance means that that which is best about this book is hidden amongst pages of rhetoric, polemicism and scaremongering.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for the non-blinkered among us, 28 Jan 2001
By A Customer
If you care at all what is happening to so-called democracy in the UK then this book is a must. Monbiot carefully examines how corporations have taken over our schools, hospitals and even bridges. Most frightening is what is happening to the food chain and how big business is taking it over, and not for our benefit. Buy this book, buy Naomi Klein's No Logo, read them carefully - and act!
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Third Way - Selling Your Soul, 21 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This is a brilliant, eye-opening book by one of the best political writers in the UK. George Monbiot manages to penetrate the lies of the spin doctors and media moguls to let us see what is really being done in our name. The extent to which British politicians have prostituted themselves to big business is breathtaking, and they have created a situation which now seriously threatens our democracy. This book is not only a great read though - it is inspirational and makes you want to actually do something about the corruption in our political system. Essential reading for those fighting globalisation and neo-liberalism!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary truth, 26 Jun 2014
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This review is from: Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (Paperback)
Some of the book is obsolete now as skye bridge is now not a toll bridge.It was depressing to see how humans have become more manipulative and greedy , even the left has gone that way.The grab what you can attitude is still in full swing, worse now than ever.I think of the wife of a murdered policeman in Ireland who said all we ever get is a piece of ground 2 ft by 6 ft.Doesnt matter if you are catholic or protestant, rich or poor, black or white.
Everyone should read this to see how we are all manipulated into thinking our government knows best.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy, thin, but still scary, 4 May 2002
By A Customer
I bought this after reading 'No Logo' and partly as a result of reading George Monbiot's pieces in the Guardian. I was looking forward to a piece of that sort of writing and philosophy, only made bigger.
What comes out is the journalism stretched thinner. The 'evidence' is there in places but in others there are transparent patches of sheer supposition and leaps of faith that would make even a committed anti-establishment left winger slightly embarrassed or, if more robust, actually amused. I was reminded of the loony left stories of the 80's, and I am not sure dressing up pragmatic and intuitive conclusions that are probably right, in the clothes of 'proof' as thin as these, is a flattering parade.
You can't take it away from him - this is a story that needs to be told, in accessible terms, to the voting (or worse, non-voting) public. But in order to justify his apocalyptic inferences from time-to-time Monbiot really does go too far.
It wouldn't be so bad but his writing, which works fine in short journalistic bursts, suffers and in places the pace and the passion flag. The style - a mixture of anecdote and polemic - reminded me of Pete McCarthy's, and that is no compliment to a man of Monbiot's intellect, integrity, and experience.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wake up call to every voter, 18 Jan 2009
By 
F. G. Lelliott (England) - See all my reviews
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From the first chapter regarding the Skye bridge fiasco, through The Fat Cats Directory and ending with Government in Exile, this book demonstrates just how much Labour has been prepare to sacrifice in order to pander to big business.
I very much doubt whether Labour voters would have been quite so enthusiastic to place their 'x' where they did, if they had known that it would mean the wholesale capitulation of their government to corporate greed.
If ever there was a 'how not to govern' manual, this book would surely be used as the foundation to build upon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good book, 15 Jan 2014
By 
J. A. Davies (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (Paperback)
Writing style a bit tedious but George gets there in the end - could have said it all so much quicker.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Wealth of Facts, But ..., 15 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain (Paperback)
The main areas addressed by this book are : the PFI issues surrounding the contract to build Skye Bridge, corporate involvement in new-hospital builds, how businesses and Southampton City Council co-operated to exclude local people from a major redevelopment decision, how property developers and major corporations influence local council planning decisions, how the big supermarket chains dominate the UK's entire food supply chain and how this impacts smaller suppliers and shopkeepers, a directory of business leaders subsequently appointed to influential government or public sector posts, the corporate lobbying power of biotech companies (e.g. Monsanto) and how gene-patenting distorts the market for genetically-engineered products, how corporate sponsorship of university research departments and corporate representatives on government research-advisory councils reduces the quality and availability of independent scientific research, and how big business vigorously campaigns for multinational trade deals struck by the EU and at the WTO and how such deals undermine meaningful democratic government.
The final chapter is a call-to-action in support of, amongst other things: a reduction in the legal rights of big business (e.g. the abolition of their right to sue for libel); new government powers to limit the size of, and break-up, businesses; local community planning events with statutory weight in planning decisions; binding UN-derived international rules in the areas of employee protection, consumer rights and the environment; global human rights laws enforceable at international tribunals; global harmonised corporation taxes and democratic world political institutions.
This book is packed with both real-world details on how big business and government actually operate and is illustrated with earthy little anecdotes that reveal how the macro affects the micro. This combination means it is positively bursting with accessible little insights on things-economic and political. For these reasons, it is definitely worth reading.
However, the title, premise and tone of the book - that corporations, and not politicians, are the ones orchestrating all of today's monumental political changes - are, for me, and on the evidence of this very book, patently false. The author's proposed solution too - global democratic government, no less - is, for many, a most unwelcome prospect, not least because such an arrangement may well prove to be a contradiction in terms.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captive State, 26 Sep 2013
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If you want to find out what is really happening in Britain today read this book. Well written and informative George Monbiot pulls no punches.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An indictment of the government takeover by big business., 13 Oct 2001
A reading of this book scared my pants off. George Monbiot writes well, as anyone who follows his articles in The Guardian will know, making sense here of a vast amount of information and presenting it in easily digestible prose. This book is a great service to the public: his complaints are made more worrying by the fact that nowhere near as many people know about these problems as should, and fewer still care. Read this book, and be angry with your government.
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Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain
Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain by George Monbiot (Paperback - 7 Sep 2001)
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