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John Gray's The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death raises vital questions about the 'truths' science can offer, the technology we are still exploiting for immortality - and exactly what it means to be human.
At the heart of all human experience lies our obsession with death. For many years, we turned to religion for our answers, but at the turn of the twentieth centuries ideas from evolution and politics seemed to suggest that our lives - and afterlives - were in our own hands.
These ideas would have both trivial and terrible effects, from the nightmares of H. G. Wells's science fiction and the wild, sweeping craze of séances to the murder of millions in the Stalinist terror.
'Our sharpest critic of utopian fantasies skewers the crazed but enduring dream of cheating age, time and death'
Boyd Tonkin, Independent
'Elegant ... He is on to something important regarding the delusion that science consists of indefinite progress'
'One of the most important and insightful polemicists currently writing in English... humanism's most vocal critic'
'Gray is an engaging writer, an entertaining historian and a controversialist whose opinions can never be taken for granted'
John Gray has been Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. His books include False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia and Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, was published in 2009.
Fascism was the major political invention of the twentieth century and the source of much of its pain. How can we try to comprehend its allure and its horror? Is it a philosophy, a movement, an aesthetic experience? What makes states and nations become fascist?
Acclaimed historian Robert O. Paxton shows that in order to understand fascism we must look at it in action - at what it did, as much as what it said it was about. He explores its falsehoods and common threads; the social and political base that allowed it to prosper; its leaders and internal struggles; how it manifested itself differently in each country - France, Britain, the low countries, Eastern Europe, even Latin America as well as Italy and Germany; how fascists viewed the Holocaust; and, finally, whether fascism is still possible in today's world.
Offering a bold new interpretation of the fascist phenomenon, this groundbreaking book will overturn our understanding of twentieth-century history.
John Kenneth Galbraith's international bestseller The Affluent Society is a witty, graceful and devastating attack on some of our most cherished economic myths.
As relevant today as when it was first published over forty years ago, this newly updated edition of Galbraith's classic text on the 'economics of abundance', lays bare the hazards of individual and social complacency about economic inequality.
Why worship work and productivity if many of the goods we produce are superfluous - artificial 'needs' created by high-pressure advertising? Why begrudge expenditure on vital public works while ignoring waste and extravagance in the private sector of the economy? Classical economics was born in a harsh world of mass poverty, and has left us with a set of preconceptions ill-adapted to the realities of our own richer age. And so, too often, 'the bland lead the bland'. Our unfamiliar problems need a new approach, and the reception given to this famous book has shown the value of its fresh, lively ideas.
'A compelling challenge to conventional thought'
The New York Times
'He shows himself a truly sensitive and civilized man, whose ideas are grounded in the common culture of the two continents, and may serve as a link between them; his book is of foremost importance for them both'
The Times Literary Supplement
John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006) was a Canadian-American economist. A Keynesian and an institutionalist, Galbraith was a leading proponent of 20th-century American liberalism and progressivism. Galbraith was the author of 30 books, including The Economics of Innocent Fraud, The Great Crash: 1929, and A History of Economics.
Published: 5 Aug 1999
TLS BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2016
'Gray must be one of the best read of contemporary philosophers, trawling insouciantly through high-, middle- and low-brow literature with the sharp-eyed eclecticism of a magpie of genius' John Banville, Guardian
'Like Isaiah Berlin with a thing for sci-fi' Tibor Fischer, Spectator
Everyone thinks they want to be free - or do they? John Gray's thought-stirring new book on freedom draws together insights from Gnosticism, science fiction, ancient sacrifice and the occult to show that freedom is an illusion and that, like fairground puppets, humans dream of escaping the burden of choice altogether.