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How Did We Get into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature
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How Did We Get into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  842 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Leading political and environmental commentator on where we have gone wrong, and what to do about it

“Without countervailing voices, naming and challenging power, political freedom withers and dies. Without countervailing voices, a better world can never materialise. Without countervailing voices, wells will still be dug and bridges will still be built, but only for the fe
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Verso
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Conor Ahern
May 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
So I picked this up after reading its author's helpful primer on neoliberalism, a topic whose exposure I am perennially on the lookout for following Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Unfortunately (for me), and despite its title's conformity with what I imagined it promised, this was mostly just a compendium of (somewhat tendentious and repetitive) articles Monbiot has written for The Guardian over the past decade or so. Some are interesting, but they really cannot tack
Will Ansbacher
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some 50 essays written over the last 10 years by the journalist George Monbiot, probably for the Guardian. They cover the environment, economics, social justice and much more. He’s a passionate, sometimes witty and well-researched writer who carefully documents everything with extensive footnotes.

It’s hard to disagree with anything he’s written about - or his solutions, even if they appear to be utopian. But still, it is wearing to read of so many problems. Without trying to be a Polyanna, I f
Apr 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was anticipating an in-depth unpacking of Neoliberalism from Monobiot's perspective. I had read an article of his on the subject, published just before the book was released, and I hastily bought the book. Marketing ftw. The book is actually a collection of Monbiot's essays and articles from the last few years ranging in subject matter from neoliberalism and some pretty absurd and paranoid legislation introduced in the UK, through to soil health/erosion in the UK and whales. All were lovely re ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is the primal scream of criticism against an absurd world. Our planet and its creations of great beauty are being consumed in the maw of greed and self-aggrandizement so shameful as to make even the Sun King and his courtiers blush were they not covered in rouge at the time. That we cannot continue in this vein ought to be evident, but Mr. Monbiot gives us plenty of reasons to believe that it is not.

August, 2018

Some second thoughts: hyperbole is one of this author’s faults, and nowhere so a
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book is a collection of essays written by George Monbiot, whom I had never heard of before but is now one of my favorite journalists, throughout the last 10+ years. It helps that I agree with Mr. Monbiot on nearly every point he makes, but beyond my political affinity for his views he once again illustrates that good journalists write the best books. Even when they are written by people I can't stand, books written by journalists are almost always fantastic reads. Luckily, I now adore Mr. M ...more
Debby Hallett
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star
I only give 5 stars to books that change my thinking, or make me see something in a new way.

Do not read this if you are satisfied with the status quo of UK and US government and laws. Do not. It will likely change the way you look at things.

Top notch. Now I have to discover what it is I can do to help make things better.
Emma Sea
I started reading this on 15 Feb 2020, just as the reality of SARS-CoV-2 was breaking into consciousness. This was a mistake. It was not the best book to be reading through lockdown, so no rating from me. Good writing, though.
Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف
The Value of Everything

An excellent selection of essays from a voice that I was shocked to find exists primarily in The Guardian newspaper in Britain. Despite being a left leaning paper, I would hardly count it as an institution that would allow a printing of the topics Monbiot covers here.

We need more voices like Monbiot, especially in the field of Journalism. I would highly recommend this to people situated in the UK, but also to anyone interested in current affairs of the West. The articl
H Wesselius
Sep 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Similar to Bring on the Apocalypse, another collection of essays, some dated and some focused on the UK. Incisive commentary on the environment, inequality, technology, etc. Worth a read just for the occasional sarcastic and cynic barbs he throws out.
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it

4.5 Stars!

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and George Monbiot is a dangerously knowledgeable man, quite simply he is one of the most insightful, rational and important voices writing in the UK today. If you have never had the pleasure of reading him, then I strongly suggest you do yourself a favour and do so. At times he is like a more restrained and focused Chomsky, his overall style and the topics he tackles in his writing fall somewhere nicely between A.C. Grayling, Ben Goldacre and Na
Holly Wood
This man is prescient as fuck.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017
George Monbiot's 50 or so short essays (originally published, mostly in the Guardian, between 2007 to 2015) in his rather Naomi Kleinesque book 'How did we get into this mess' (VERSO, 2016) is a big fuck you at the neoliberal consensus, looking at various aspects of this fucked up, inhumane, soul crushing, people and planet destroying hegemonic ideology, including education, poverty, the environment, health, relationships, religion, science, culture, development etc. But it's not just a fuck you ...more
David Rush
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I know nothing about the author. I happened up the book and bought it when Verso publisher was having a super duper sale on e-books so I bought it for just a few dollars. Given many of these essays are about money, market forces, consumerism and such; I wonder if he would have a comment on how I ended up with his book? Maybe not.

Anyway, there are quite a few articles here and while he has a politically progress, or maybe radical (for most conventional political types) the topics range about and
26th book for 2016.

This collection of 51 articles, dating between 2008 and 2015, of George Monbiot's weekly Guardian column covers a gamut of issues from the place of children in urban spaces, to critiques of neo-liberalism, to the importance of wilderness in people's lives.

There are some great gems here - Monbiot even credits two for starting the Keep-it-in-the-Ground campaign and the anti-TTIP movement. However in keeping with a weekly column in a UK paper, most of the stories focus on the UK
Alexander Tas
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: environment, politics
Not exactly what I was expecting when I first picked it up, this collection of essays does a great job defining the present situation. It opens up with the question of what is neoliberalism, and spends the rest of the book defining the systems that exist today that make up "neoliberalism". While the essays are grouped together in themes, I felt that they deserved an intro, or maybe an end to each section to tie them all together. They aren't particularly hard to relate to one another, this is pr ...more
Charlie Styr
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Bought this without reading what it was all about, and so wasn't aware it was a collection of his articles, by and large which I had already read which was slightly disappointing.

A collection of his articles is pretty heavy going one after the other, nonetheless still covers important topics and at least the couple I hadn't read provided something new.

If you religiously read his work already I don't recommend this book.
Paul Masemann
Sep 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
First of his material that I've read and blown away by the clarity and light that he sheds on topics so often shied away from, especially with the larger news/media outlets. Came across as the Noam Chomsky equivalent for U.K. concerns.
Siofra Dempsey
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it
A collection of articles rather than an single work. Interesting but therefore somewhat superficial. Would have enjoyed more in-depth analysis but gives a fair general overview.
Nov 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Not the book I was hoping for, to be honest - and I am a Monbiot fan. This is not a coherent text. It is a loose collection of essays - Monbiot's "best of" his Guardian writings - from approximately 2007 to 2015. Three or so have a paragraph of contemporary reflections. There is a short introduction that rails rightfully against neoliberalism and market fundamentalism. And that's it. Fool me once, I suppose - after reading some of Monbiot's other book-length pieces, I had thought this would be c ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Here Guardian columnist George Monbiot records his various articles, spanning over a decade, on subjects such as politics, economics, environment, war, history etc. and compiles them all into one book. The articles are well written and researched, but this is by no means a book with a structured narrative or thesis, more a greatest hits, which makes it easy to pick up and read but there's no real depth to any of the subjects covered which is its main problem. You can also find most of this stuff ...more
Jeff Johnston
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
J Earl
Mar 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How Did We Get Into This Mess?: Politics, Equality, Nature is a collection of George Monbiot's essays with an introduction which offers a thematic lens through which to read them. He posits that there must be "countervailing voices" in order for there to be change and these essays serve as a partial example of his countervailing voice on the issues, primarily, of politics, equality and nature. These are, of course, overlapping and interlocking areas so many essays may be focused on one topic but ...more
Mark Avery
Sep 05, 2016 rated it liked it
George Monbiot writes so well – I envy him. And he knows so much – I envy him!

The subtitle to this book is ‘Politics, Equality and Nature’ and it really is that wide-ranging. If you are familiar with George’s Guardian column you will currently be missing it as he is having a break and writing, he says, a novel (of all things!). If you are feeling Monbiot withdrawal symptoms then you can clutch this book to your chest and breathe more easily.

Monbiot’s Twitter account (@georgemonbiot) has the Byro
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it
As a collection of essays, this was worth reading. Fairly wide-ranging subject matter, and consistent approach. I like Monbiot's way of viewing things (quite "big picture" but some focus on actionable details) as it dovetails well with my own.

For the environmental side, I preferred Feral as a call to action. Some of the essays that stood out to me were the one on the drugs war (as he made a point about the detrimental effect of legalisation on developing countries that I'd never encountered bef
Martin Vickers
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
The title tells you that this isn't going to be a bundle of laughs but it quickly became apparent that George Monbiot is a bright man who can tell a story very well. His political and views on the world looked like they were similar to mine and so it proved throughout the course of the book.

I enjoyed most of the essays which were sensibly grouped and liked the fact that he is involved in the community helping urban kids who have never seen the countryside on a field trip with a charity. His poin
João Martins
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-my-bookshelf
Instead of a coherent and well-structured narrative, this book is a compilation of several different articles published by George Monbiot in the Guardian between 2007 and 2015.
What could have been a very interesting account of how we did actually get into this mess - particularly as he has all the arguments to produce that rapport - ends up being a mish mash of unrelated texts tied up into small sections. Some of the articles are indeed very interesting, well-written, and still extremely relevan
James Hiscock
Sep 10, 2016 rated it liked it
More interesting to address the question "How to get OUT of this mess?". It's clear to many that, given the undoubted failure of neoclassical economics and a "too big to fail" mentality, thinkers such as George M need to helpus come up with a new model and a new relationship between society, its politicians and its business. Which is why this book is really quite disappointing. It's a collection of regurgitated Gurniad articles with few overriding themes, and fewer still grand ideas for how to b ...more
Jul 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is actually, apparently, an anthology of previously published pieces. That ought to be stated somewhere on the cover. I had thus read some of the book before.

Monbiot writes persuasively about important and urgent topics, sometimes providing me with a different perspective, or new information or understanding on a topic. This is, I find, most often the case when he writes about nature, the environment, and history.

I found the book an interesting read, though Monbiot almost always writ
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know what is wrong with the UK, read this. The UK has been duped badly.
Mar 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, essays
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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