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Devil's Advocate Paperback – 5 Oct 2000
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John Humphrys has been a journalist since he left school at the age of 15. He is now one of the most respected broadcasters of his generation and his interviews on Radio Four's Today programme are regarded by some as compulsive and compulsory listening. In his debut book, Devil's Advocate, he draws on 40 years of experience to look at the changes that have been happening in Britain and possible future scenarios. The first section of the book is devoted to what he calls "the shoulder-shrugging society" and he doesn't paint a very pretty picture. He argues that the British have lost the concept of shame--an excuse is always found if someone does something wrong; children are losing their innocence at an earlier age; people increasingly think of themselves as victims; they are terribly sentimental, confusing genuine caring with wearing a ribbon; and feeling good is the goal of modern life. So what is to blame for this appalling malaise? Humphrys believes it's "consumer populism"--everything being judged according to its commercial value. The situation is exacerbated by the media, which is also under commercial pressure, and becoming increasingly trivial in a bid to chase the ratings. He doesn't offer any quick-fix solutions to the problems, but encourages readers to dissent and keep questioning the accepted wisdom. This book is very strongly argued and there is plenty to agree and disagree with. It achieves exactly what Humphrys is famous for--stimulating debate. --Carina Trimingham
"One of the most brilliant journalists in the country" (Daily Mail)
"Peerless reporting ... sharp and instructive ... wonderfully acidic about people when he thinks they deserve it" (Observer)
"A national institution" (Sunday Times)
"Playing devil's advocate is the function he performs better than anyone else anywhere ... an excellent and amusing read" (New Statesman)
"Written from the battlefield ... Humphrys has written an important book" (Irish Times)
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Top customer reviews
Although the book was published in 1999, it is still very relevant. The problems are still very much with us.
The book is basically a rant... He tells us all that's wrong in the world, why it was all better in the old day and how to improve it. Despite his suggestions of improvement being fairly minimal (and in my view not a highlight of the book), overall this is a great read - he delivers his thoughts on where things are wrong with a perceptive eye, excellent wit and once you start reading this book it is difficult to put down.
I found myself nodding in agreement with much of the book (especially his views on the developing victim culture) and definitely recommend this as an excellent read.
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