171 of 182 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2001
That is the message which Huxley conveys through this follow-up to his masterpiece, Brave New World. Huxley's obsevations of modern day mind control methods, brainwashing, and propaganda are chilling. What is even more chilling is that this book was written in 1958, one can imagine what advances in these dark sciences man has taken since then. A key point in this book is that if a totalitarian state is going to exist in the present day it will almost surely be more like Huxley's Brave New World, rather than Orwell's 1984. The main reason for this is that whereas Orwell's society revolves around the threat of violence, torture, and death, Huxley's revolves around the reward system. Huxley's Brave New World lulls the masses to sleep so that they have no idea that their freedom is being taken away. Huxley predicts that we will drug people who are even slightly out of the norm for "mental illnesses" (does Prozac ring a bell?). He predicts that valuable information, information necessary for the preservation of freedom, will be subtly, very subtly, taken away from the masses while replacing it with a seemingly terrific reward (does television ring a bell?). Huxley's most frightening premise in this book is that the individual (what he and others identify as "The Great Man") is being done away with by modern "science". He recapitulates for us the great debate between the behaviorist psychologists (like Watson and Skinner) and the philosopher psychologist William James. Skinner and company believe that the individual is powerless over his environmental influences while James strongly believes in the idea of "The Great Man". (In other words did Elizabethan England create Shakespeare's plays or did Shakespeare create his plays?) Huxley tells us the bad news in bulk before getting to the obvious question What can we do? His answer can be summarized in one word, THINK!!! Think, debate, don't accept the packaged and marketed ideas that are given to you like a McDonalds cheeseburger. In Huxley's words, educated yourself for freedom. And you can start by reading a copy of this book. If your local bookstore doesn't have one, then for God's sake, for all of our sakes, find a copy quick.
110 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2006
Huxley's classic tale of future dystopia seems to become more relevant with the passing of time. At its' original time of publication, some of the novel's social commentary was safety masked inside science fiction.
Today's readers may relate more to Huxley's vision of over medicated, over-sexed consumerism. With topics like genetics, DNA testing and stem-cell research constantly in the news... perhaps the yuppies of today aren't so far off from the Alpha's of the future.
The edition includes the novel, Brave New World, with the non-fiction work, Brave New World Revisted. This content is prefaced by a truly interesting foreword that offers some insights into Huxley's life and experiences. This edition also benefits from a psotscript section which includes interviews, commentary and a letter Huxley wrote to George Orwell (author of 1984).
69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2001
You *MUST* read this book!
Huxley wrote a masterpiece of a book in "Brave New World". "Brave New World Revisited" is a fantastic critical analysis of "BNW", how it differs with Orwell's "1984", and the world as Huxley saw it some 30 after the book debuted. His commentary and social criticism cut deep, and this cautionary tale is perhaps more applicable today than it has ever been (as evidenced in George W. Bush's reference to "BNW" in his speech concerning government funding of stem cell research).
This surely is an important book.
The amazing thing is, though, that even as such, it is a thrill to read. The dialogue is snappy, the narration rich, and the scenarios hilarious and frightening -- often at the same time. This is SF at its best. This is SF as literature.
I cannot sing the praises of "BNW" highly enough. I will waste no more of your time talking about it -- use it to read this book instead!
Recommended for: Everyone (even those who don't normally read SF)
87 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 1999
Mr. Huxley started warning us in 1932, with his masterpiece, "Brave New World." In this essay-style analysis of his own book, written twenty-six years later, he takes it one big step further. Addressing everything from overpopulation to overorganization, his words ring more true with every passing year. Our society needs to lift its head from the computer screen for a few hours to read this critical work. Few, if any, have said so much in so little space. Mr. Huxley is one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century, and it is a criminal shame that his words are not more widely read. We should put down our endless self-help manuals and learn where our ills really begin. We need to understand how the roots serve the tree before we can improve upon the tree. Mr. Huxley is an expert gardener...
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2005
This non-fiction book of essays, by author Aldous Huxley (1894 to 1963), examines the predictions he made in his fascinating science fiction novel written over a quarter of a century from the time he wrote this book. Huxley explains:
"When [my science fiction novel] `Brave New World'  was being written, I was convinced that there was plenty of time. The completely organized society, the...caste [or class] system, the abolition of free will by methodical conditioning, the servitude made acceptable by regular doses of chemically induced happiness, the orthodoxies drummed in by...sleep-teaching--these [threats to individual freedom] were coming all right, but not in my time...I feel a good deal less optimistic than I did when I was writing [my science fiction novel]. The prophecies made in [my science fiction novel] are coming true much sooner than I thought they would...Impersonal forces over which we have almost no control seem to be pushing us all in the direction of the Brave New Worldian nightmare...impersonal forces which are now making the world so extremely unsafe for democracy [and] individual freedom."
This is what this book does. It looks in depth at the above threats or forces to or "enemies of" individual freedom and others mentioned in Huxley's science fiction novel and applies them to the modern world. The author examines in depth the following six threats or forces:
(2) over-organization (or bureaucracy)
(3) propaganda (in a democratic society and under a dictatorship)
(5) persuasion (chemical and subconscious or subliminal)
(6) hypnopaedia (sleep-teaching)
His analysis made over a quarter century ago (from the year of this review) is amazingly accurate. I'll give one perfect example:
"Our contemporary Western society, in spite of its material, intellectual, and material progress, is increasingly less conducive to mental health, and tends to undermine the inner security, happiness, reason, and the capacity for love in the individual; it tends to turn him into an automaton who pays for his human failure with increasing mental sickness, and with despair hidden under a frantic drive for work and so-called pleasure...Man [and woman are] not made to be an automaton, and if he [or she] becomes one, the basis for mental health is destroyed...People are related to one another, not as total personalities but as embodiments of economic functions or, when they are not at work, as irresponsible seekers of entertainment."
The above example is the kind of insight you'll find throughout this well-written book. There are a few (very few!) times Huxley seems to be wrong, but the majority of time he is spot-on.
In the last chapter of his book, Huxley attempts amongst other things to answer the following question:
"How can we control the vast impersonal forces that now menace our hard-one freedoms?" He does a good job coming to grips with this difficult question.
Do you have to read Huxley's previous science fiction novel to understand this book? NO. When he refers to his science fiction novel in this book he does not make any assumptions that the reader has read his science fiction novel. However, as a person who has read his previous novel, I can say that this book had more impact on me than if I had not read the previous novel.
Finally, the only problem I had with this non-fiction book is that it has no references and footnotes (or notes). Huxley to be sure uses information and statistics from other sources but no credit is given to them. Huxley, in his main narrative, does sometimes give informal credit to his sources but many times, he does not even do this. All information sources should have been properly referenced.
In conclusion, this is an insightful, prophetic, fascinating book that makes the case that our society may be heading in the wrong direction due to forces attempting to take away our individual freedoms!
(first published 1958; forward by author; 12 chapters; main narrative 185 pages)
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 1999
I am a high school student who studied this book for an English independent study. It is one of the most intriguing books I have ever read. It is written as a futuristic prediction of what the world might be like if the progess of science and governmental control are not checked. The theory of the government in Brave New World is that in order to ensure a stable society (Utopia) the individual must not exist. I strongly recommend this book as it provokes serious critical thought on the part of the reader.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2003
This work by Aldous Huxley is one of the best nonfiction books I have read. I couldn't help but realize this man's genius as I read this book. His understanding of science is evident and only surpassed by his knowledge of the psychological. I recognized some of what I read, and believe that "Brave New World Revisited" must be the original source. Additionally, the book contains much information I had never heard before.
The book is a collection of twelve essays written on how to prevent the world from "Brave New World" from coming into existence. Already in 1958, Huxley paints a bleak picture for our future. One of the main problems Huxley forsees is the lack of desire for freedom. In 1958, a study showed that American youths were indifferent to rule by a few experts instead of a democracy. He sees a need to increase critical thinking in the individuals of a society. He also explains the current methods of involuntary mental manipulation. The "Brave New World Revisited" is an informative collection of essays that has risen my awareness of psychological dangers.
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2008
First, I should say that the three of five stars is really about a three-and-a-half out of five stars, so as to give a bit of granularity to my review. I will admit that I am a great fan of Mr. Huxley's tale "Brave New World" because of its timelessness and also because of its timeliness today. With this in mind, I am both pleased and, in a minor ways, displeased by the later reflections which he made on the possibilities of his dystopia's realization in the contemporary world.
In order to get the negative out, I will very briefly outline what I found to be either incorrect or unseemly in Mr. Huxley's revisiting of his dystopia. Primarily, I am a bit disappointed, perhaps because of my place in the future of his work, in the complete negativity with which he approaches both the problem of population and what he calls "quantity and quality" with regards to breeding. In his own way, it seems that he has slipped into that pessimistic, hedonistic view which he chided greatly in his own text. Now, I do admit that he does raise a good point that these two forces do have the possibility of creating turmoil in those who are predisposed to use them as an excuse for hyper-control over society. However, he never fully exonerates himself from this pessimism and even seems to believe that there is some positive organizational goal which can address these problems without slipping to the world of his dystopia. To his benefit, he does leave the questions of solutions open but also seems to be like those later liberals, who became less liberal and more collectivist, to view the state as too strong an exponent of individual freedom. He leaves unaddressed the question of how goodness plays a role in the preservation of freedom in society. In addition, while I do agree that much technology tends toward over-organization, there is also the promise, which is seen in various ways today, that technology can also allow for the displacement of power throughout the people. (Specifically, I am thinking of the possibility of some day having an affordable way of augmenting the power grid by individuals on their own property and - more realistically conceivable now - the growth of free communications on the internet and the creation of ad hoc download clusters by means of dispersed torrent technologies [which are to me only a sign of the other promises of some loss of over-centralization].)
Now, on the positive, all of the points raised have some level of lasting validity, for every question raised does pose a very real dilemma in the contemporary world. The forces of over-population which today also point to the effects of the exposure of the third world to the global economy could well play into the hands of those powerful ones who would cajole the first world into a much more "safe" state at the cost of liberty. In addition, propaganda does have an insidious character in the contemporary world and is more spread than ever through the powers of centralization that do indeed exist (bearing in mind the aforementioned promises in the opposite direction). The heavy hand of the singly-focused media, coupled with the ongoing din which prevents one from having the introspection necessary to realize his or her place in the world, coupled again with the ability to escape problems of all sorts through medications and illicit drugs, are indeed, as Huxley suspected, making the world far more susceptible to the possibilities of a Brave New World growth. While he focuses more on education than anything else, it seems to me that - reading this through the lens of his text - he intends such education to enable us not only to "know the Truth" but also to be able to reflect on the self, to look at the stars as well as the pains of life and realize they are something to be understood and coped with, not ignored.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2000
This follow up to Huxley's classic brave new world is an absolute prophetic revelation to our modern times as well as times to come if its message is not headed. Huxley shows his unmistakeable brilliance with this discourse on the evils and possibilities of our modern political and economic state. I would recomend both Brave New World Revisted and Brave New World for anyone interested in political socialization and the current economic state of the world. On a final note, Huxley is one of the best political and social satirist I have ever seen in the literary world and I must say that I enjoyed both works.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2005
This was a novel that I had wanted to read for years and years, but could never seem to get around to it. I was not disappointed. This is a brilliant satire of a world where population control and social programming are taken to the extreme. All of the citizens are happy. The pursuit of pleasure and conformity are the goals in life. Mindless consumption is encouraged and people never age. If you have any troubles, don't worry, just take some soma. How could there be anything wrong with a society where happiness, sex and drugs are in overwhelming abundance? There is a loss of individualism, caring, passion, creativity and history among other things. George Orwell's 1984 was a great dystopian novel, but this novel written more than 70 years ago is, in my opinion, a greater warning. I am sure that Huxley would look at society today with complete disgust as we move closer and closer to his nightmare.