I really wanted to like this book. I really enjoyed Russell Brand’s contribution to New Statesman. The reviews, however, have been scathing. What prompted me to buy the book was that the reviews were ad hominem. If one cannot destroy the argument, one destroys the man. And the reviews were clearly about destruction of the man and not the idea.
Therfore I concluded Brand probably had a valid argument. Now I’m left wondering if the critics actually read the book. Why didn’t they attack the ideas? There was ample opportunity!
A number of errors, though small and relatively insignificant, constant references to addiction recovery and surrendering to a higher purpose. Along the way we also get a dose of conspiracy, an irrational attack on Richard Dawkins, regular references to god and a whole chapter dedicated to a Christian prayer. These issues could be overlooked but ultimately this is a book for the new age spiritualist with a belief in the supernatural and little interest in politics or substance. Possibly Brand’s target market.
The passage that really made me put the book down was that Ernesto “Che” Guevara was “unimpeachable”. I have been intrigued by Cuba for over 20 years, at one stage reading every book and watching every movie with the word Cuba in the title that I could get my hands on. While the Cuban Revolution brought many benefits to the average Cuban, we need to remember that Fidel was a dictator and “Che” a murderer. Brand does acknowledge this bit not until sometime later.
While I like Brands writing style, it is a rambling journey of disconnected ideas. The 353 pages could be succinctly stated in less than 200 and still be an entertaining and just as informative read. Though it doesn’t get informative until about half way through.
If you can handle the collective consciousness and interconnecting energy stuff, one clear message seems to be that Brand is very well aware of his many flaws but is actively seeking improvement. Just like his own personal struggle we can only improve our world if we recognise our current system is problematic and we are condemned if we fail to try alternative solutions.
It should be remembered that this is a comedic work but I think it fails here as well. While Brand commits the proceeds of the book to funding Revolutionary activities I suspect there won’t be many funds to go around.