46 of 47 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
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Patchy, thin, but still scary
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...
Published on 4 May 2002
Most Helpful First | Newest First
46 of 47 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 very worrying levels of corruption, apathy and corporate control in politics today.
53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good grief . . .,
By A Customer
I read this book in one sitting, completely transfixed - not so much at the greed of the businesses and corporations concerned (which one takes as a given) as the complicity of government officials in nuturing it. Having read it as I did a day after going through Eric Schlosser's "Fast Food Nation" I found myself slowly losing the will to live...
"Captive State," throroughly researched, well-written, and engaging, leads me to conclude that we are not far off the sort of lifestyle grimly portrayed by the likes of Orwell - only it won't be the State whose control we're under, but rather the multinationals. Everything needs to make a profit - our taxes, it seems, are not intended to enhance our quality of life but to assist in "driving commerce forward", "expanding into new markets" and other supercilious corporate-speak. For shame!
I held back one star because I was expecting a bit more from Monbiot as to how we, the Great Unwashed, can turn this horrible juggernaut around. There seems little point in voting for a change in government (he points out that New Labour has actually lowered the corporate tax rate - Maggie Thatcher would no doubt approve), and changing our habits as consumers means in most cases merely shifting our credit card bills from one set of greedy ogres to another.
Corporations certainly have an important role to play in a modern society, and are a necessary evil of any free enterprise system; it would seem governments have taken advantage of voter apathy and couch-potato behaviour to let them ride roughshod over the world.
I hope Mr. Monbiot will continue to enlighten us with further relevations in future books.
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They did it in broad daylight!,
The Dome, the lottery, the Scottish Parliament, the Manchester tram scam, the destruction of the railways and London Underground: these are all scandals we know about and which make us think the lunatics are running the asylum. We feel bewildered disempowered, ripped off and plain scared for the future of our country and the world.
None of these episodes is covered in this book. Yet through its coverage of the Skye Bridge, the Coventry hospitals, the “regeneration” of Southampton, genetic engineering in agriculture and medicine, the takeover of our universities - and much, much more it explains everything about the decline in quality of life, accelerating gap between rich and poor, and the total destruction of anything remotely resembling “democracy” which is going on all around us while we sit there swigging Special Brew and watching reality tv.
If Monbiot never wrote another thing he would have entirely justified his existence with this book which is quite simply THE most important book on politics in Britain this century. In reading it you realise that you are not mad after all and neither are “they”!
Quick! We have only a few months to save the world. The single most useful thing each of us can do is to buy TWO COPIES of this book right now. Send one to your local MP with a note saying you are waiting for her/his response before casting another vote.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The British thinking-person's Michael Moore,
"Captive State" is an eye-opener for anyone who still believes New Labour has anything to do with socialism. Monbiot presents a rigorously-researched, rational and hugely convincing portrait of the extent to which corporations are changing the way society functions and exploiting weak government for monetary gain. The approach is refreshingly non-subjective - he showcases the human side of private-finance blunders such as the Skye Bridge fiasco without becoming overly sentimental, and acknowledges that universal trade treaties like the controversial Multilateral Agreement on Investment could be beneficial if properly policed. However he makes no secret that the failures of governments to stop the virtual blackmail of food suppliers by large superstores, and the behaviour of pharmaceutical companies in the use of harmful chemicals and genetic modification, are truly unforgiveable.
In whole it is a reminder that corporations are merely a tool to be used by the human race, and must not be allowed to affect our civil liberties. While the tone is journalistic and generally non-biased, the content is enough to stir the blood and inspire action at a personal level - this reader for one is already making efforts to avoid shopping at supermarkets. And reading it 3 years after its publication is still worthwhile - particularly as it now seems the power of corporate lobbying has reached the point where it can even co-erce governments into going to war.
The only thing that may put some readers off is that Monbiot is a researcher first, populist agitator second, and the academic-style prose with long lists of facts make certain sections a bit of a grind to read. For this reason a film by Monbiot would probably be a lot less successful than one by Michael Moore. But it would be a lot harder to pick holes in his arguments.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Should be of interest to anyone who believes in democracy,
By A Customer
Amazon Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is an interesting book for anyone who believes that UK democracy is running smoothly. It should be (but I am sure won't be) of particular interest to the eurosceptics who are so vehemently opposed to any 'loss of sovereignty'. This book demonstrates that an enormous of amount of sovereignty has already been ceded to corporate interests (both US and European).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Insight into current political trends,
This book covers current policy (particulary the Private Finance Initiative) very well. Whilst there is little/no other work on these kinds of current policies, this book gives us a peek at the real-world effects of both PFI, and also urban regeneration initiatives.
Well worth a read.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corruption Everywhere!,
I knew that there were dodgy dealings going on behind closed doors but didn't realise the extent of it until reading this book. It's shocking to think that corporations can wave the pound notes at governments and local authorities and get their way, when what they want is not to benefit the people but their pockets.
I found the table in the middle of the book particularly amusing when it lists the fat cats and their "job descriptions" before the '97 general election and then their jobs afterwards. Total contradiction! A must read for anyone who wants to know what really goes on between the corporations and government!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a very good overview of hidden Britain today but,
George Monbiot is to be congratulated on this book as he has shows the reader of what is happining in Britain today by the back door. I most liked the part dealing with the NHS and how it is being sold off of with out the consent of the mass of the people, my only critism is that I belive that while it good to have a understanding of what is occuring there should be more on how people can fight the system. If you want to get his book I would also suggest No Logo by Naomi Klein as that book will put the argument about what is happening into a world view.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to the 51st state!!,
Welcome to the 51st state you have been successfully taken over!
This could quite easily have been the title of the book. The corporate takeover of our schools , police and hospitals.Just like America where corporations rule our so called political representatives have sold us out tho the big corporations!
This book is a must read for every voter, taxpayer or anyone interested in how our country is run. You have to read this - what is going on in our name - local democracy crushed in favour of central control even Stalin never managed that completely unlike successive British Governments obsessed with complete rule from Whitehall.
The most damming thing that Monbiot produces are the real life effects of the corporate takeover - the people of the Isle of Skye being charged extortionate ammounts to cross the Skye Bridge, market traders pushed out of town centres in favour of large monolitihic giants.
Monbiot explains that when Government is questioned about the PFI ( The expensive Private Finance Initative - i.e. where schools and hospitals are built by private companies and then leased back to the state for obscence ammounts of money!). And local authoritites and Government are locked in by law to paying these ammounts while the private companies themselves renegoiate loan deals with the banks. Making even more money!
The establishment when questioned by Monbiot hide behind the old addage of commerical confidentiality in other words embarrsement at being stiched up by the city boys , naviety or collusion.
While it may seem Monbiot may paint a bleak picture of the Corporate Takeover of this country he does point out what has and can be done to stop it and gives examples.
So come everyone this it not some leftie with an axe to grind this is something which has been taking place under our noses for years without the national media either not interested or turning a blind eye.
Monbiot deserves respect and the plaudits he has recieved for his perservsnce, research in the face of so much obstruction and having to piece together scraps of information.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for the non-blinkered among us,
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!
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain by George Monbiot