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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Immortalization Commission" is a typical John Gray work, 28 Mar. 2011
This review is from: The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death (Hardcover)
John Gray's "The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death" is a book I really like. First it's full of anecdotal references and this makes it very easy to read. Despite being clearly an essay, the narrative is well build and I enjoyed it.

It's full of reference to lots of (dead) people with unpronounceable names (mainly Russians) who's biographies are strange and stranger. This book is also great because it puts evidences beforehand and then draws conclusions which you do not generally find in history books. Gray digs deep into the roots of "evil", only to find out its actually humankind natural state. We're all part of Evolution, and it's not gonna be a "fun" experience. Unlike some Nat.Geo. or BBC documentaries sometimes makes us think there is no design, just selfish reproduction. And it's gonna be bloody and painful and it's no surprise that the "quest to cheat death" is the main theme of any culture and civilisation since Man became sentient and capable of expressing it to its kins. In the past it was mainly Religion, but since the publication of Darwin's work, Science has become a very promising tool to cheat death. A tool, Science, which has been elevated to a new kind of Religion where people are spendable, like rats in a Lab. They are just raw material that can be thrown away with no major consequences if not the construction of a new kind of Super Humans.
The final pages of the second part of the book for example, the "God Builder" part, is particularly enlightening of what really happened, not only in Bolshevik's Russia under the Terror state of Lenin first and Stalin later. But most important how this "demographic suicide pond" that was the USSR was perfectly interconnected to Hitler's Germany and concealed in plain sight to Western "observers". There was no misunderstanding there. It was clear from day one where it was going.
In this sense, this latest "The Immortalization Commission" is a typical John Gray work. Dismaying and capable of eradicating any hope you'd left in mankind and probably in yourself. The natural subtitle of John Gray's work should be: "What you see is what you get"... and you won't like what you'll see.

This work is also (another) reminder to us all of the "March of the Lemming" in which Russia has been engaged for a very long time. From Tsarist time first and Bolshevik Russia immediately later and probably in Putin's Russia today. This demographic suicide is mesmerising and at the same time a massive warning of what "failed state" means in case the UN definition does not really satisfy you fully. Russia is not alone in this book of records. Nazi Germany of course, Mao's China, Pol Pot's Cambodia, Argentina, Pinochet's Chile, al-Bashi's Sudan are probably other examples, though not as well documented.

The "thin red line" that connects Gray's work is in fact (to me of course), the emerging evidence that mankind has never been in charge of their own fate and any attempt, the latest with science, and prior with religions, to ride the bitch have all miserably failed. Nevertheless, we keep trying to "control our future" as if it was a linear one. This total failure only makes us wonder what the next step will be and which consequences will we have to bear, if any: geo-engineering? genetic modification of crops and people (since they are the something in the end)?

So in conclusion, the book is definitely worth reading but you must have the stomach to take it 'cause Gray presents a reality which really hurts. I am dazzled by the success of "horror movies", especially among youngsters. There is a massive industry and effort by producers and writers in finding new stories of horror. They'd just have to open a John Grays' book to understand they are part of a greater movement to cheat death and the real "horror" lies in making a spectacle out of it.
It we take John Gray's lesson seriously it is clear we, for the most part, can only watch. And if we are really smart and quick, make a run for higher ground before the tsunami catches us. And still I find that John Gray is not a message of despair. Like another Brit, Richard Dawkins, Gray accept the benefit of the doubt about mankind and confront reality for what is might be and not only for what it is or seems to be.
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