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Radicals Chasing Utopia: Inside the Rogue Movements Trying to Change the World

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"It's the hubris of every generation to think that they have arrived at the best way of living. But all the things we now take for granted, all the modern wisdoms we hold to be self-evident, were once derided as dangerous or foolish radical thinking."-From the Prologue

In Radicals Chasing Utopia, Jamie Bartlett, one of the world's leading thinkers on radical politics and te
Kindle Edition, 335 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by Nation Books
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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  234 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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J. Kent Messum
*Review originally published in the New York Journal Of Books:

Jamie Bartlett is back, following up his stellar debut 'The Dark Net' with something equally enlightening and unnerving for the modern age. 'Radicals Chasing Utopia' is an in-depth look at a selection of outlying organizations that all feel they hold the key to the future, or at least the futures they envision. These radicals range from unconventional to unhinged, brilliant to bat-shit crazy. T
Roman Clodia
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent piece of investigative/political journalism which is funny and thoughtful and provocative all at once. Bartlett investigates a range of 'radical' groups, from the transhumanists seeking immortality, to the wacky but rather charming free-love community of psychadelics who create a 'ring of power' in order to stop the war in Syria by the power of their thoughts...

More chilling are the alt-right activists, yep the ones who claim they're not racist/fascist/neo-Nazis then call for 'gas
Oct 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Radicals is 'an exploration of the individuals, groups and movements who are rejecting the way we live now, and attempting to find alternatives'. The introduction sets the scene: an age of unprecedented progress and achievement, yet one in which globalisation, income inequality, climate change and the impact of the internet (among many other issues and developments) have caused the social, economic and political consensus to shift in ever-changing, often unpredictable ways. As in Bartlett's prev ...more
Shirley Revill
Really enjoyed this book and it really got me thinking about the concepts mentioned in this book.
Will follow with a longer review on my second reading as it's one of those books that you really want to read again and again.
Highly recommended.
Charlotte Jones
In a world where the word 'radicalism' has become synonymous with terrorism, I wanted to learn more about other radical movements across the globe that are fighting for freedom, the environment and free love, as well as the more political or religious movements.

In this book, Jamie Bartlett discusses eight very distinct groups of people, from far right extremists to inhabitants of a free-love commune, and presents his findings in a brilliantly non-biased way. I found that he didn't take a side wi
Tariq Mahmood
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: europe, sociology
Never really knew many of the radicals I met in this book apart from the Muslim ones. But than the Muslim radicals were not described in much detail as compared to the other radical types. By the end of the book I had developed a sense of respect for most radical movements, apart from the Islamic one which o don't think really fits into the radical framework. I also agree with the authors deduction that the world changes constantly, therefore radicalism is an important indicator which can trigge ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A really interesting read. Bartlett makes sure to give his "radicals" a voice and lets them speak their views without being overly judgemental. In a world that has been taken over by Twitter quick takes, it was nice to read about groups you would normally dismiss as nutty (and tbh some of them still came off as nutty). I will say I got a bit bored towards the end, and would suggest maybe reading something else between each chapter to avoid burn out.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Super interesting read if you're interested in groups (not just political) that practice ways of living we rarely hear about. Bartlett gives a man on the street type account of each movement he covers.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this one very much. Great journalism.

Also, I would have loved it if Jamie Bartlett could moderate a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Ayn Rand.
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An interesting mix of stories of "radicals" trying to change the world in their own image.
Daniel Casey
These mildly thematically connected essays are the type of articles you'd find in glossy pop culture mags (Vanity Fair, GQ, Esquire, Rolling Stone, etc.) lacking the import to make them literary or critical but most certainly well-crafted journalism. But journalism is more about novelty than it is anything else, so Bartlett gives us a tour of fringe groups as he attempts to show them as actually impactful actors on culture and politics. I can't say I buy it. Less engaging than I had hoped but st ...more
DNF. Jamie Barlett's previous book The Dark Net was workmanlike in its style, but it zeroed in on some fascinating issues bubbling beneath the surface of the internet. This new book is similarly workmanlike, but (based on the first two chapters) his subjects are much, much less compelling. The lack of style also makes it quite a dull read on audio. I may revisit it as a physical book another time, but I'm setting it aside for now.
Aug 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this book (kinda skimmed through it after the intro and first 2 chapters)

It is well-written and interesting, but I think that the author did not interrogate his topics enough considering the context of the world we're living in right now. He tries to be way too neutral. Sorry but even Howard Zinn said, "you can't be neutral on a moving train."

I think he's far too sympathetic towards right-wing anti-islam movements. Because I get that we have to study them and understand them and
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While reading Jamie Bartlett’s Radicals, I couldn't get off my mind the image of grinders, this self-focused group of people who believe that ageing is a disease and are not afraid of taking human evolution into their own hands by harnessing nanotechnology, genetic engineering, and artificial intelligence. Grinders are biohackers that operate in their own bodies. They seek to turn themselves into living DIY cyborgs by placing microchip implants inside their bodies. They are not exactly part of t ...more
Trevor Barton
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating, well-researched book about some of our present-day radicals and the function (perhaps even import) of radical thinking in society. If you feel disconnected from some recent trends, or simply wish to gain a wider understanding of the current world, you should gain something from this work.

When you're younger (at University, for example) you feel relatively connected to whatever is the current vibe. You may not agree with the social experiments of all of your peers, but you get the
Simon Spiegel
The title is a bit misleading, since this book is not really about utopia in the sense of an alternative concept of a state (or simply living together). Bartlett portrays several radical movements from Pegida and Cinque Stelle to transhumanists and libertarians. While Pegida, for example, has a clear idea of what they don't want, they really have no concept of society. Likewise Cinque Stelle. For the transhumanists, society is not even a relevant category. The eco activists Barlettet describes a ...more
Yates Buckley
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: curious
The title is not representative of the books content nor the style of writing of the journalist. It is a light, intriguing journey into close encounter with fringe radical movements which we might find repulsive from a distance. But Jamie is a master at navigating a line between total derision and judgement of these characters and being embedded factual reporting.

I am not as sure as he seems to be of the value of all radical movements but he does make a point. And you do learn something from new
Chander Shekhar
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book for getting an introduction to different type of movements across the world that are right now fringe, but might very well become mainstream. From the transhumanist movement in the US to the increasing use of psychedelics for the better understanding of our environment to the environmental activism, the book gives a glimpse of the several new initiatives that are taking place across the world.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-very-own
The book is well written - well-paced, lively writing. Unfortunately, I didn't particularly enjoy reading more than half of the case studies the author selected. I'd class some of the movements/ experiments in living covered as not being credible. Reading about trans-humanists, right wing nut jobs and bitcoin warriors was a gruelling. Of course, this is probably a good thing as it burst my filter bubble
Alan Shaw
A rather dull but very easily read mash-up of a book with only, for me, a really interesting chapter on Beppe Grillo. Half of the chapters were about totally odd-for-the-sake-of-it ideas/groups and the chapter about "activists" put a lid on the whole thing for me. These people just don't get it ... they should definitely be made to read "The Road to Somewhere" for a reality check. Very badly proof-read by the way.
Kevin Rhodes
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
This is well researched. well written, and really a pretty phenomenal work of investigative, first-person journalism -- all of which made me think maybe I should have given it another star. But I didn't because somehow for me personally the content and conclusions weren't
compelling. The Epilogue about our willingness to embrace radical ideas no doubt applies to me!
Jonathan Franks
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very entertaining book covering the opinions and topics of several groups. The author does a good job of understanding the position of the groups he documents and presenting their views in a way that at least feels unbiased. He concludes each presentation of the groups with his own skepticism. If you like the podcast Grow Big Always, you will likely enjoy this book.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
“Ought we be so sure we’ve got it all figured out? That our way of living is the best one, and that alternatives could never work? It often takes outsiders to suggest that another world is possible. Even if they are not completely right - no single idea ever is - they are often half right. And we only know which half if radical ideas are allowed to flourish.”
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This exceptionally well researched and well written book delves into a handful of fringe groups that believe they have the answer to all that ails modern western democracies. The author visits with the men and women whose passion for changing the world is sometimes bizarre but always sincere. It's exciting to consider which, if any of them, will evolve into the mainstream.
Andrew Choptiany
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great to have someone tackling the fringes when so many are afraid of them. The pieces are more of a collection of distinct stories but Bartlett does a good job of stringing them together to form a thesis. Definitely recommend reading this.
Alan Newton
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent insight into the radical ideas that are shaping the world today from Brexit and the election of Donald J Trump to far right activists, such as numb skull Tommy Robinson, who Jamie shadowed for a fair amount of time for this book.
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. Political, environmental, pharmaceutical radicals. All equally passionate and wanting to change the world. A fair narrative on his experiences with these groups with a great deal of background knowledge.
Would thoroughly recommend.
A great read, with very interesting content. Sharply edited. Narrator a pleasure to listen to.
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Conrad Toft
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at the what some of the stranger social outliers were thinking just before one of them became US president.
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Jamie Bartlett is a journalist and tech blogger for The Telegraph and Director of The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media for Demos in conjunction with The University of Sussex.

In 2013, he covered the rise of Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement in Italy for Demos, chronicling the new political force's emergence and use of social media.

In 2014, he released The Dark Net, discussing the darknet and