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4.3 out of 5 stars14
4.3 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 5 November 2009
This is a slightly updated version of John Gray's book, originally published in 1998.
Given all that's gone on since he seems broadly vindicated.

The heart of Gray's thesis is that neo-liberalism has hardened into a faith which denies human and environmental realities. It's actually become a weird kind of Marxism. His other main point is that although capitalism is on the ascendency - it will take many different forms dependent on local factors (Chinese capitalism will always be dissimilar to American capitalism).

He pretty much takes apart the internal contradictions of Thatcherism/ Reaganism and the socially destructive effects of the free market (and that's its almost always imposed by state fiat), the fact that we're running hard up against global environmental constraints and the anti-social effects of letting a free market rip (1 in 200 US citizens in jail for example, largely because social cohesion has been destroyed with local labour markets).

His other major point is that the market is destabilising, and this has definitely been vindicated by recent events.

I found this book to be bracing, but ultimately a bit too pessimistic. Gray's good at laying into present mistakes but he's no better at predicting the future than anyone else. If you want a a quick guide his postscript is excellent, it condenses the whole book - very useful for students.
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on 28 January 2012
The vast majority of people I know or have spoken to about the financial crisis don't know what they're talking about. They're picking up snippets and sound-bites from the media, then passing them on as facts to others which subsequently causes complete confusion. I was one of those people too.

Economics is boring. Just the word itself makes people groan because it's all math and confusing jargon, however this book gives a glorious history of how the capitalism we use has descended into chaos and will ultimately fail. The confusion is the word "capitalism" itself, and Gray explains how there are different kinds of capitalism such as that based on debt (which we in the West use) and that based on savings which is still used by the Chinese and Japanese (how else can they buy our Government debt?).

I have learned so much from this book it quite literally changed my life and I know that's an awful cliché. It goes against everything I've been taught and expected from the financial paradigm I've grown up with but has given me an understanding how I might just be able to protect myself and my children from a future of perpetual debt. I can't change Governments or stop bankers getting bonuses, but I can educate those around me in simple terms to look forward, know what to expect and to prepare for the ultimate endgame which happens with all financial systems based on fiat currency; thanks to this book.

Be warned though... it's no easy read. It's long, thorough and at times you find yourself drifting, but stick with it, you'll walk away with a knowledge that only a few people have.
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on 2 November 2013
What an amazing book! It should be required reading for everyone, and especially politicians. It explains why we are in the state we are in and also why nothing is about to change. I have read other books by John Gray but this one far exceeded my expectations. Do yourself a favour and read it. You might actually discover what's really going on and what you can do about it to protect yourself.
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on 6 June 2013
Well written, to the point, dis-illusioning in the best sense of the word. Excellent summary of everything we need to know about the current financial upheaval in the world, though written more than 10 years ago.
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on 29 October 2015
Fascinating. A good writer makes complex ideas readable. JG does that.
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on 26 March 2016
Highly recommended.
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on 26 May 2011
What I particularly liked in this book is its description od the different economic models that currently exist. He describes in particular the US, Japan, Russia, China and Germany. His description mix historical, cultural and economic backgrounds and are very illuminating.
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on 18 December 2015
Excellent
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on 1 June 2016
classic
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on 15 April 2015
This is a poor book, with many opinions being offered as fact. The language is biased ('slash-and-burn capitalism') and the conclusions are error-prone: for example, new technology is offered as the major reason for falling wages and rising unemployment in the west; but many jobs being off-shored are low-technology operations. He talks of 'The Great Game' being a battle for oil: it was, in fact, a battle over Afghanistan to control access to India: it had nothing to do with oil. There is a firm anti-western view propagated through the book, with little or no attempt to balance the view by indicating any positives from a laissez-faire approach to business. A forecast that the next crash (ie, the crash we have just been through) would see a replication of the 1930s protectionism has been proven wrong.

If there had been numbers, graphs or verifiable facts in the book, it might have made more sense. But it was, in fact, just an an anti-New Right tirade. I was hoping for something better.
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