[ read online books ] The Shape of Things to ComeAuthor H.G. Wells – 91videos.co

When A Diplomat Dies In The s, He Leaves Behind A Book Of Dream Visions He Has Been Experiencing, Detailing Events That Will Occur On Earth For The Next Years This Fictional Account Of The Future Similar To Last And First Men By Olaf Stapledon Proved Prescient In Many Ways, As Wells Predicts Events Such As World War II, The Rise Of Chemical Warfare, And Climate Change From Tedious, unpleasant and unforgivably implausible So, having opened by giving H.G Well s famous science fiction novel such a short sharp kicking I suppose I d better justify myself Firstly let me start off by defending Wells himself, who was a disciplined, innovative writer whose prodigious body of work contains light bulb moments than a Phillips factory Having said that The Shape of Things to Come simply isn t the glorious allegory fest that is The Time Machine or The War of the Worlds and boy does it show The story is told through the words of a fictional League of Nations diplomat Doctor Philip Raven, with Wells penning an introduction and occasionally intervening in the text as an editor The novel, written in 1933, is divided into five books all of which come to Raven in a series of dreams These dreams seem to him to be somehow the unconscious incarnation of a future text book, which covers world history up to 2106 The first book, dealing with the world from the outbreak of the First World War up to 1933 is seemingly so interminable that I felt I was reading it almost in real time This period is of course already actual history for Wells and he seems to spend much of his time either settling old scores or lecturing from the Marxist perspective of world history In fact throughout the book he returns countless times to the real world to bore the reader with repeated descriptions of pre 1933 life according to Herbert George Well s Seriously, you could stun a gazelle, in the prime of its life, into stupefied immobility, simply by reading out long passages of this stuff This is followed by four books which, to cut a very, very long story short cover the outbreak of a prolonged and terrible world war the decent into post war chaos the saving of the world by those loveable, stern, genocidal totalitarians The Air Dictatorship and the final outbreak of a eugenically engineered, grimly hypocritical and wholly improbable utopia Wells wrote this novel at the height of his literary fame and he must have had considerable push back power when dealing with his publishers The Shape of Things to Come certainly reads like a book where the writer has completely had their way and if ever there was a book in dire need of a good hard editing this is it Reading it is like being stuck in a lift with some tedious sixth former who s all too eager to show the world how worthy they are with their politically appropriate lapel badges and who won t stop droning on with their tedious, misunderstood and fiftieth hand theories about how the world would be a better place if only we let people like them run things.The voice of Raven is paper thin throughout the book and it doesn t take a degree in psychology to identify it as that of Wells himself The book is filled with bleak invective about people s and organisations for whom Well s seems to have had little but contempt.But don t take my word for it on woman p115 Outside that sexual vindication, woman at that time had little to contribute to the solution of the world s problems, and as a matter of fact they contributed nothing on politics p126 Fascism indeed was not an altogether bad thing it was a bad good thing and Mussolini has left his mark on history and p126 It is still profoundly interesting to note the modernity of many aspects of the early Bolshevik regime on Ireland and the Irish p189 that erstwhile island of evergreen malice and p224 At the other extreme were the shiftless Irish on religion p328 By now it had struck down the very head of Catholic Christianity the world state that is, and by gassing the pope and on the same page Ten days later Air Guards descended on Mecca and closed the holy places A number of religious observances were suppressed in India and the slaughterhouses in which Kosher food was prepared were closed throughout the world An Act of Uniformity came into operation everywhere There was now to be one faith only in the world, the moral expression of the one world community and finally on education and our beloved books themselves p347 the Educational Control, it is argued, was justified in hindering and suppressing books, meetings, teachings, agitations So apparently utopia is born of a bracingly intolerant one world government with a dislike for woman, the Irish and anyone who believes in some form of deity and who likes to choose their own reading material Lovely People often refer to The Shape of Things to Come in reverential tones but I m convinced that most of them haven t actually read it, they ve just read heard that it s amazingly prophetic in its predictions for the future Wells is incredibly prolific with these predictions and sometimes he does genuinely astonish you with their accuracy, but the truth is he is wrong often than he is right And as a prediction of how things should be rather than how they might be The Shape of Things to Come is by turns both risible and offensive. The Shape of Things to Come is many things but most importantly it is H.G Wells last significant work It is also the embodiment of the Modernist Dream and an attempt to reconcile the horrors of World War I with the goals of the Enlightenment While the story is firmly rooted in the British SF style of speculative fiction such as C.S Lewis Space Trilogy and Olaf Stapledon s Last and First Men and Star Maker , it also provided the inspiration for the Golden Age writers of American science fiction As you read Wells methodical extermination of minority languages and cultures, religion in general, and nations and their peoples one begins to appreciate the innate revulsion that caused William Gibson to first attack Utopian science fiction in The Gernsback Continuum and, thereby, spawn a new generation of SF writers that popularized Postmodernity for America and the world But unfortunately, the components of Modernism still haunt our lives and Wells can still provide us with a clear understanding of our contemporary world in his writing such as the following passage The Profit Capitalist System was absolutely incapable of controlling the unemployment it had evoked and the belligerence it stimulated It stagnated on its hoards It fought against inflation and it fought against taxation It died frothing economies at the mouth It killed the schools on which public acquiescence rested Impartially it restricted employment and the relief of the unemployed Even on this plain issue of its police protection it economized Impossible it said, to plan a new police when we cannot even pay for the police we have This view of a hyperactive capitalism is clearly the inspiration for Margaret Atwood s MaddAddam Trilogy and much of the new literary stable which is bringing well crafted writing abilities to the ghetto genre of science fiction Wells also makes us reflect on the decline of democratic governance in our current societies Governments, that were in their last stage of ineptitude, were rotten with perpetual amendment and weakening of measures, with an endless blocking and barring of projects, with enfeebling bargains and blackmailing concessions Against every directive body, every party in power, sat another devoting itself to misrepresenting, thwarting, delaying, and spoiling, often for no reason or for the flimsiest reasonsin the hope of degrading affairs to such a pitch of futility as to provoke a change of government that would bring the opposition into power The opportunities of profit and advancement afforded in such a mental atmosphere to a disingenuous careerist were endless The author also reflects on our present growth of incarceration as a public private concern It had always been a strong tendencyto utilize the labour of offenders against the law Forced labour seemed so just and reasonable a punishment that whenever the possibility of using it profitably appeared the authorities set themselves to multiply indictable offenses and bring luckless people into unpaid servitude.drawing its sustenance from their degradation, there is arising again an intricate tangle of exploiting classes, entrepreneurs, wholesalers, retailers, money lenders,politicians, private and corporation lawyers, investors and landowners It makes one wonder where the borderline between convicts, Dubai esque work permits, and temporary cultural visas begins and ends in our globalized labor markets And within all of this Wells sees the seeds for populism of the New and Radical Right There were organized religious and patriotic revivals.schools were discovered to be immoral, unpatriotic and antireligious It was extraordinary how the money changers hurried to the deserted temples and clamoured for the return of Christ Every town and city found someone or other keen to revive and protect its privileges.Even men who were engaged in organizing debt serf cultivation and debt serf industrialismappeared as generous supporters of and subscribers to the sacred cause of individual liberty It is truly a work that leaves all of us to pause like Wordsworth in our cheerful confidence in things to come. Despite my acerbic comments made while reading, I found myself enjoying this book much than I thought I would, especially once I got past the first two parts, which chronicle the collapse of Western civilization As a novel, this book is a real stinker if there were negative stars on GoodReads, this tome would deserve them What it is, is an analysis of modern, capitalist, consumption driven culture and the inherent weaknesses that are most likely to bring it down, and an interesting speculation on what the author believes should replace it Namely, a socialist anarchy where there is no individual property in anything but personal belongings and money Part 3, chap 5, The First Conference at Basra 1965 I downloaded my copy from Project Gutenberg and don t have pagination You may not like what Wells believes the answers to our problems are but they re interesting and reveal an astonishing imagination capable of thinking outside the box forgive the use of the already trite clich This compares to Olaf Stapledon s Last and First Men, though Stapledon s vision is far, far broader and doesn t continue the conceit that Man is the culmination of evolution.My first vision of The Shape of Things to Come came when I watched a Christmas Eve showing of the 1936 film on my local PBS station as a kid I recently reviewed the film which fueled this interest in reading its source The film isn t very good, really, except for the middle part, taking place during the years of recovery Though I like Raymond Massey in The Scarlet Pimpernel and Arsenic and Old Lace, his characters John Oswald Cabal are the weakest parts of the movie I cringe just thinking of Oswald s final oration as his children fly off into space As a novel, if the book were modeled on the movie s structure, it might merit respect I see it following another apocalyptic novel, A Canticle for Leibowitz a favorite The first part would be set during the collapse of the West the second part would occur during the reconstruction and the final section would be set in the civilization that eventually emerges.But I ramble Regarding the novel, Wells sets up the conceit that a scientist of our own era has received messages from the future purportedly showing what happens between the end of the Great War 1918 and 2106 It s unexplained and unexplainable and ironic in the face of the fact that Wells future society rests on supremely rational, scientific and secular principles Fortunately, the author pretty much ignores the premise throughout the remainder of the book In a paragraph that rings eerily and frighteningly apropos considering current events and as an example of his insight , Wells writes the immediate causes of the world collapse in the twentieth century were first monetary inadaptability, secondly the disorganization of society through increased productivity, and thirdly the great pestilence War was not a direct cause The everyday life of man is economic, not belligerent, and it was strangled by the creditor Part 2, chap 12, America in Liquidation emphasis mine The Age of Frustration lasts from c 1933 to 1965, when the First Basra Conference establishes the embryonic Modern World State a civilization based upon the Marxist ideal of common property and the subordination of the individual to the commonweal It s not Communism as envisioned by Marx or Lenin but the committed capitalist or Chicago School economist would find little to distinguish in its outcomes.Dismayingly, Wells sees and seems to welcome a Soviet style interlude where the old is utterly swept away and the insufficiently zealous are sacrificed There s an episode reminiscent of Stalin s show trials where one of the World Council s members, Arden Essenden, is brought down by his political enemies The question of his specific guilt is an altogether minor matter The question before us is not, What has Essenden done but, What are we going to do about Essenden There is need for repression coming civil war and bloodshed are plainly upon us This is no time for Great Lovers Essenden has become ambiguous He cannot lead us, and how can we do without him Things have come to this, Essenden, you are inconvenient Apart from this quarrel of the women, you are in the way Part 4, chap 2, Melodramatic Interlude Wells also has little good to say about democracy or politics De Windt, the fictional philosopher who provides the framework that becomes Modern State ideology, says it is no good asking people what they want That is the error of democracy You have first to think out what they ought to want if society is to be saved Then you have to tell them what they want and see that they get it and About most affairs there can be no two respectable and antagonistic opinions It is nonsense to pretend there can be There is one sole right way and there are endless wrong ways of doing things Part 3, chap 1, The Plan of the Modern State Is Worked Out Eventually, education, prosperity and human nature produce a revolt that bloodlessly replaces the Soviet interlude the Air Dictatorship and allows Wells to describe the subsequent Utopia in Part Five The Modern State in Control of Life Wells likes the word control, and seems quite happy with a top down organization of the world This is the most absurd part of the book as Wells rhapsodizes about how unremittingly good life is at the dawn of the 22nd century He d already simplified and reduced the collapse and recovery in the interests of his narrative, and the final chapters are a compendium of man s achievements and the great advances yet to come unleashing the productive capacities of the soil, exploiting the mineral wealth of the earth, taming and genetically manipulating the animal and plant kingdoms he anticipates modern debate about messing with the human genome by postulating a general consensus that humans don t know enough to mess with it yet but that they will in the future , altering the earth s geology another future project , refining education and social psychology to eliminate regressive or reactionary thought, increasing the efficiency of the distribution of wealth, and perhaps the most critical advancing human physical and mental health from Sublimation of Interest, Part 5, chap 8 And the greatest discovery man has made has been the discovery of himself Leonardo da Vinci with his immense breadth of vision, his creative fervour, his curiosity, his power of intensive work, was the precursor of the ordinary man, as the world is now producing him.A few random, final thoughts As I write this review the hysterical, right wing reaction to Barack Obama s plan to speak to America s schools on their first day back is sputtering out, and I m listening to his address before Congress on health care reform I bring both these up because Wells addresses them, in a way, when discussing the world s collapse and recovery Regarding the latter The greatest weakness for the Left in our efforts to join the rest of the civilized world in health care standards is that we have no movement and no plan The Democratic Party has a few phrases public option but no specifics so it s easy for its opponents to raise opposition It doesn t help that the party s hacks are as much employees of big pharma and the for profit insurance industry as the Republicans But before I get too political, let me relate this to The Shape of Things to Come Wells argues that many saw what needed to be done the end in the decades before the Great War i.e., a world state but their efforts came to naught because they had no strategy or blueprint to follow They succumbed to intellectual chaos and the simplistic calumniations of their opponents until a figure emerged with a coherent ideology and a plan around which people could gather.In education, Wells has the brilliant insight that all education is indoctrination and that you cannot change a society until you change the minds of its members In addition to the nodes of communication and transport, the Modern State takes over the schools and raises a generation of young to accept its ideology A lesson the old Communists and modern day right wingnuts understand well but which our sadly anemic Left and floundering liberals balk at acknowledging Wells description of the early educational efforts of the Modern State sound a lot like the madrasas networks of Muslim fundamentalists or the right wing s 30 year campaign to educate America in government s fundamental evilness brilliantly effective at turning out true believers If our children must be indoctrinated, Wells prescription, at least in its final form, appeals well But the New Education, based on a swiftly expanding science of relationship, was no longer the preservation of a tradition, but instead the explanation of a creative effort in the light of a constantly most penetrating criticism of contemporary things Part 4, chap 5, The Text Resumes The Tyranny of the Second Council My very last thought religion Wells doesn t like it The Modern State is thoroughly secular and all organized religion has disappeared, initially repressed by the Air Dictatorship but later dying a natural death as man sheds his delusions This is another area where, I think, Wells underestimates the resiliency of the spiritual impulse, and wildly overestimates the beneficent influence of rationalism and the myth of scientific progress And, in another one of those ironic recognitions, Wells ends the novel with the observation that before things can get better the old system must be shown to be utterly bankrupt and an aggressive order of religiously devoted men and women must try out and establish and impose a new pattern of living upon our race Part 5, chap 9, A New Phase in the History of Life emphasis mine Can t really recommend this except to Wells fans and Utopian dystopian lit geeks but it s full of insights into the weaknesses of our modern civilization considering the state of the world today, Wells may have just missed predicting when and how the world ends by 50 years and interesting if, at times, disturbing ideas about how to address them. To accompany the reading this book, I have re watched the film version Shape of Things 1936 and also read Wells original intended screen play for the film, which can be found in the archives of the public domain.This book I refrain from considering it a novel as it was felt as though it had been based upon a collection of essays begins with that of a narrator reciting the edited sum of notes he had acquired from a Mr Raven, who claimed to have dreamt of reading a sort of futuristic history book perhaps it was a textbook as the author often refers to the student of history must This history begins in the year 1914 and continues to the current date of 1933, then goes on to describe a future history that ends in 2106.Wells does a thorough study of recent history, followed by a projection of future world affairs that lead up to an inevitable second world world war, followed by a plague A noteworthy item is of a comical minor indecent between two men that ultimately precipitates into that second world war in 1940, which much like something Kurt Vonnegut might have come up with.Perhaps because to the book was written during the beginning of the great depression, Wells is not very optimistic as to how his contemporaries and their offspring would generally handle world affairs There are important roles played by contemporary prominent people such as Henry Ford, President Henry Roosevelt and even Aldolf Hitler, who Wells, at one point, describes as hysterical and by the time of this writing, was only beginning to make his very real impression on the real shape of things to come.There isn t really an overall plot as such, however, there is the odd vignette, such as in Book IV 2 Melodramatic interlude which is a romantic entanglement between characters Elizabeth Horthy, a pilot and Arden Essenden, a founder of the new order This interlude could have been developed into an entire novel on its own Nor is there an identifiable protagonist throughout there is no Cabal character, such as is featured in the film version of the book that, along with descendants, span the ages This is primarily a vehicle for Wells to lecture of his vast ideals such as a single world government and his own favorite brand of socialism that he has described in previous works It is among other things, an overall anti war protest What is made very clear, is Wells incredulity with how the world s governments perpetually continue to invest and subscribe to the war machine, while being completely aware of its ultimate failure of ever solving anything, resulting, always, in unfavourable consequences.The last third of the book becomes simply outrageous, and at the same time, optimistic as Wells describes, with great inventiveness and imagination, his envisioned utopia The world of the twenty first century has becomes a much cohesive place, as man has by this time become Sane Yet, are cracks appear as the new generation questions the wisdom of their ancestors quest of humanity continuously having to thrive forward This is most clearly apparent in the largely abridged final segment of Wells original screenplay for the film the question being Is man fit to venture towards the stars There are, in this book, many great observations of the current state of affairs, that lead to logical interesting projections, yet there are also segments that appear to be no than the rantings of an out of touch disillusioned old curmudgeon who is in the process of writing the epic master piece of his late ga ga years I found it astounding that Well s means to the conquest space is modeled after Jules Verne s gun type ballistic rather than, at least a crude form of rocketry, which were already the standard for a slew of established young emerging sf authors such as E.E Doc Smith, Murray Leinster, Edmond Hamilton, Jack Williamson, and the like, who all had been inspired by Well s work However, overall, it was a long and strange yet interesting journey through the center of H.G Wells mind. The book is a history of the world from WWI through the end of the 21st century Mr Wells wrote it in 1933, having lived through WWI, the economic collapse of Europe and the Americas, Stalin s twist on Marx Lenin and the rise of fascism His hoped for solution to his day s troubles was to re write humanity by means of a culturally monolithic dictatorship of technically adept Platonic Guardians, after yet evil events furthered social disintegration a supposed pre requisite to rebuilding I dislike Mr Well s opposition to diversity, his assumption that change must be wrought through catastrophe and the coercion of an elite, and the notion of a human tabula rasa.The early part of the book is true history The author s tendentiousness grates less partly due to the remove of events with the passage of time But it is also mitigated by the art of his language witness his comment on PM Ramsay MacDonald For a time, in the opening glow of the assembly, with the clicking photographers recording every studied gesture, with the attentive microphones spreading out and pickling for ever his fine voice and his rich accent, with bustling secretaries in sedulous attendance, with the well trained gravity of the delegates and particularly the well matured high seriousness of those adepts in public appearance, the Americans, to sustain him, this last sublimation of democratic statesmanship may really have believed that some kind of favourable incantation was in progress under his direction The most distressing parts of the book aren t the abhorrent philosophy, but the bigotry and sexism At one point in his review of women in the mostly future 20th century he sums up They lost what little political significance they had when queens went out of fashion The most attention given to a woman of the future is to Elizabeth Horthy, who plays out a partial analogue to Katherine O Shea, bringing down an important revolutionary through a sex scandal He follows with what begins as a sympathetic portrait of Juanita Mackail, but she degrades first to a junior dialectical partner, and then succumbs naturally in the author s warped view to mothering the man she s with Sad.Much enjoyable is the post apocalyptic descriptions in Book II Section 11, starting with There are six interesting snapshots And the Wells of the scientific romances we loved as children comes through in Book V, Section 2, about future terraforming Not that you d agreed with the entire vision, but it s still fun. Loses a star for being dry and boy is it dry Wells has a lot of ideas to share, and not a minute to waste making it entertaining , but this is HUGE on ideas Now, admittedly, some of those ideas are how useless women and the Irish are, but one doesn t have to accept or condone those shortcomings to find the rest of it fascinating.The back cover of my copy perhaps overplays how prescient it is one wouldn t have had to be a genius in 1933 to anticipate a second European conflict, for example and there s occasional hilarity, such as when he hypothesises about 22nd century historians listening to gramaphone recordings of events in the 1980s But in terms of humanity s potential, the vast rewriting of our priorities and structural organisation that could yield unbelievable rewards, it remains nothing less than inspirational Living in an age of rising far right nationalism and UK isolationism, it s incendiary to read Wells writing on the wastefulness of hatred and the need to abandon national borders in favour of human unity Pie in the sky fantasy or a blueprint for humanity s salvation, this deserves to be read, and is as relevant now in 2018 as it ever has been. DescriptionWhen a diplomat dies in the 1930s, he leaves behind a book of dream visions he has been experiencing, detailing events that will occur on Earth for the next 200 years This fictional account of the future similar to Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon proved prescient in many ways, as Wells predicts events such as World War II, the rise of chemical warfare, and climate change H.G Wells looks into the future8 August 2010 This book is what is termed as being future history and some say that it is an extension of HG Wells historical text A Short History of the World It is suggested that what Wells is doing is using recent history to look forward to the next stage of human evolution It is not the first time that he has done this, and in fact prior to World War I which at the time was known as the great war he had written some predictive texts such as The War in the Air and The Land Ironclads , neither of which I had read at this time This book could be split into two sections, the first smaller section looking back to the immediate history of humanity, and the second section looking forward to what he was predicting as the coming Modern State, a one world government in which humanity was free from all of the restraints of the past and that each and every human being could reach their full potential However, to get to that point, humanity would have to pass through a lot of pain As a historian HG Wells is brilliant His analysis of the Great War, the Roaring Twenties, and the beginnings of the Great Depression show an incredible amount of insight However this brilliance seems to dissipate as we move into his speculative future history of mankind He gets quite a few things wrong but this is to be expected when one attempts to track the progress of humanity into the future It is and will always be speculation First he is wrong about the Pacific War He seems to think that the Japanese would become bogged down in China and that the United States would quickly enter the fray and bring the war in the Pacific to a quick conclusion He is correct that China would turn communist, but also assumed that Japan would as well which never happened as Japan signed a peace treaty with the United States before Russia could send troops onto the island and the the Japanese government ended up following along with the United States Neither did he anticipate that the Japanese would be able to hold off until 1945 While he was close with the timing of the Second World War, he was quite off with the causes, the duration, and the participants He did not anticipate that Hitler would begin bringing German people living in neighbouring countries under the umbrella of the German State, nor did he anticipate his Blitzkriegs In his version of the war numerous border clashes were fought and Britain never joined the fighting Further, there was extensive use of gas warfare which never happened in the Second World War Gas became a defensive weapon, meaning that it was used to prevent the other side from launching gas attacks However he did anticipate the guided missile, otherwise known as the Air Torpedo Well, that is enough on his predictions and I will now look at how his Modern State developed and what it means After the war, which ended in the exhaustion of all participants and he did not envisage the economic benefits that the United States reaped from the conflict which threw them into an age of unprecedented prosperity , and then another period where the world was wracked by disease, an organisation similar to the United Nations arose which took control of all of the world s transportation systems and developed the Air Dictatorship This, when I first considered it, sounded like what the United States is attempting to do today enforcing its rule through the use of airpower However, it had to do with control of the transportation networks, which in turn moved to the control of education Education is very important in Wells Modern State in that he believes and I believe rightly that it is through education that you mould a compliant state It does take generations, but universal education, and control of the curriculum, is what will bring about the greatest change He also talks of a gas he calls Pacifin, which is used to subdue unruly mobs It is sort of like an anaesthetic which causes those exposed to it to become numb and cease rebelling Some suggest that this is what illegal drugs are doing today While they are illegal, some believe that the governments allow their production and distribution to pacify the poorer classes though this is not necessarily the case as a lot of middle and upper class individuals are drug users In Wells future religion is suppressed far too easily, particularly Islam Looking back from the world of fundamentalist religions, one questions whether the suppression of religion is all that easy Many states have attempted to do it, and every one has failed While there are very few Protestants in France today, as the saying goes, the blood of the martyrs waters the seed of the church I personally think Wells is a bit too optimistic when it comes to human nature He seems to think that humanity will be able to evolve out of its barbarism, and while he acknowledges that these is still crime in his utopian state, humanity, in my opinion, seems to have been getting worse rather than better I guess back in his time, after the horrors of the Great War and the destruction of the Great Depression, one needed to hope to look forward to a better future. Book Based Entirely on Its CoverNow, I had heard of H.G Wells, and had seen some adaptations of his books into films The amazing 1960s version of The Time Machine and the not so amazing War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise So, knowing the author did help, but in the end it really was the most intriguing and prettiest cover And the book Well, it ranged from Wow, this is really interesting to Do I really have to read this thing throughout.It s Wells prediction of the future from the year 1933 to 2106, and tells an interesting story about what futurists in the 1933s made of a worse and better world It s also an interesting thought experiment as to what makes a civilisation work and crumble The subject matter constantly interested me Wells style of writing, less so He decided to write this a retrospective history book, written by a phantom author from 2106 And so it has with the dryness of 1930s academia all over it.It has however got me thinking about how most political movements seem to think of people solely in the context of their function in society And I won t elaborate any or I will be way over my word count Suffice it say, this was a interesting book, though at points very droll And if it hadn t been part of a pre existing challenge I may have abandoned it before finishing But having concluded it, it s been rewarding and intellectually stimulating.