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Britain is run by people who are bluffing. At the top of government, our media and the civil service and sit men – it’s usually men – whose core skill is talking fast, writing well, and endeavouring to imbue the purest wind with substance. They know a little bit about everything, and an awful lot about nothing.

128 pages, Hardcover

Published September 18, 2018

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James Ball

2 books10 followers

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5 stars
23 (32%)
4 stars
24 (33%)
3 stars
21 (29%)
2 stars
3 (4%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews
519 reviews37 followers
August 21, 2018
A decent short read. Spends a lot of time outlining Oxford PPE, but with good reason. Ultimately its point is very simple, hence the mere 3 stars, but there are interesting details here on things like civil service responsibilities and how newspaper editorials are farmed out to the young cubs. 3.5 stars if I could.
Profile Image for Mike O'Brien.
82 reviews22 followers
August 27, 2018
More of an essay than a book, it feels insubstantial and sweeping, without the kind of careful analysis that the book criticises as lacking in ministers, the Civil Service, and the media. That said, it does make a half decent case for the increasing prominence of Bluffers and the problems this brings to all three institutions. It is only in the short coda that we begin to get a more rounded critique, which recognises the need for diversity and balance.
Profile Image for Mark.
22 reviews
August 21, 2018
Short but powerful. The conflation of polymaths (very rare) with bluffers (far too common) has had very corrosive effects on society. Personally I would have liked more reference to the Modern European School and the developing nexus of thought around the interliminality of Mikes and Marcuse but this work stands on its own and is recommended to all readers of modern society.
Profile Image for Michael Brunton-spall.
6 reviews10 followers
August 21, 2018
Excellent read

This book covers a brilliant description of the problem that bluffers bring to public life, and how and why this happens. Sadly, but possibly expected from two bluffers, this book doesn’t really give a concrete solution to the problem, just some ideas of what might work in future.
But well worth reading, will be recommending it to everyone I know.
936 reviews6 followers
January 20, 2023
Readable and short (I got mine 60% off thankfully, at Judd Books in Bloomsbury), with a takedown of Oxford's PPE course and the type of people who do them. An argument against generalism intended to start a discussion. NB This was written pre-pandemic.
19 reviews
January 17, 2020
Basically a very good essay on why the political class seems driven to make bad decisions that will hurt it's citizens come the end. The pair who speaking from experience put their finger on exactly what it is that seems to be the cause of the disconnect between those in powerful positions in government, politics and the media and the general public. It always seems to be said that it is a upper class Oxbridge elite Vs the average Joe that leads to the mistrust of our politicians, but no one has ever really explained in more detail.

The pair pit forward a very convincing argument for at least one of the reasons why politicians in the UK come to think and act as they do.

Only reason it gets four stars is I believe the topic is ripe for further analysis and would have loved to see it expanded with some more case examples and perhaps some more thought on how exactly to try to change the status quo.
Displaying 1 - 8 of 8 reviews

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