Sunday book review – How did we get into this mess by George Monbiot

monbiotGeorge 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 Byronic line ‘I love not man the less, but Nature more’ which is clearly played out in this book: walks around dawn and rants about millionaires; sheepwrecked hills and care for drug addicts; rewilding childhood and leaving carbon in the ground. Oh yes, and the impact of lead on violent crime.

Monbiot provides a rationale for what many of us feel instinctively, or at least unclearly: ah yes! we say on reading him, that’s what I think and he’s just explained to me why I think it! So if you are of the Left of politics, you will love most of this book, and if you are of the Right then you will find it very stimulating too.  And he writes so well.

I have just one gripe about the book, and that is that it is a collection of his already-published articles.  Now that doesn’t bother me at all, but it wasn’t clear from the publisher’s website (although it does say ‘based on his powerful journalism’), from the mighty Amazon, or from the dust jacket (or even the Introduction) of the book, that this is what it is. I’d have bought it anyway, but it isn’t exactly what I thought I might be getting.

Having said that, it’s great and it’s a book I wouldn’t be without.


How did we get into this mess? by George Monbiot is published by Verso.


Inglorious: conflict in the uplands by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury – for reviews see here.

Behind the Binoculars: interviews with acclaimed birdwatchers by Mark Avery and Keith Betton is published by Pelagic – here’s a review.

A Message from Martha by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury – for reviews see here.


9 Replies to “Sunday book review – How did we get into this mess by George Monbiot”

  1. Thanks for the review. If the book is composed from recycled articles then yes, that should have been stated clearly on the tin. Probably, not GM’s fault. After all, he publishes his annual tax accounts in full, therefore he is likely to be in favour of honest advertising.
    Yes, I too envy the originality of thought, the writing, the courage and the energy.
    A novel next? Blimey, does the man bend time as well as people’s minds?

  2. We have seen a few of these from our wildlife writers in the Guardian recently with Mark Cocker reviewed on here but the one for me was a tribute to Bill Condry by Jim Perrin.
    I knew Bill and Penny from my time at Ynis Hir not long after Dick Squires took over from Bill.
    As I don’t buy newspapers some of these books are fresh work and I presume the publisher asked George rather than the other way round. I have read most of George’s books and I am sure this one will also ‘tick the boxes’.

  3. 100 Club Update

    28. Edinburgh North and Leith

    Only 19 signatures to go to equal the last petition!

  4. For statistics fans; to reach 100,000 signatures we need to average another (just over) 5 signatures per constituency per week. Which really doesn’t seem that daunting to me.

      1. A petition leaflet that can be printed off and handed out; is there one?

  5. Just finished reading this book and I’m glad to be 76 yrs.old, ‘cos it frightened the fucking shit out of me!
    I feel a desperate guilt for the next generation, of what current humanity is preparing for them and not informing them and I wish there was some way I could leave them a message saying – “They didn’t do it in my name and I’m sorry”.

Comments are closed.