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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A pardox beset with paradoxes
"Camp Concentration" plays on some familiar themes: government subverting the will of the people, technology as mechanism of human downfall, to name two. As such, one might be tempted to pass it by, which would be a terrible mistake. Thomas Disch has produced a novel that is perhaps unique in Cold War fiction, for even as it decries the folly of military adventurism (in...
Published on February 28, 2004 by Amazon Customer

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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating premise, but a narrative that bogs down
Thomas Disch has written an unusual and nightmarish tale of war, disease, and government skullduggery that makes for fascinating reading-- most of the way through. It is frightening but true that his premise that the government might secretly develop and test a disease organism that augments intelligence but then kills seems more credible today than it did when he...
Published on June 3, 1999


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4 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as The Trailer!, August 12, 2000
By 
Mark E. Givens (baltimore, maryland United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Camp Concentration: A Novel (Paperback)
Ever see a trailer for a movie ,see the film and wish it were more like the trailer. This is one of those. The blurb on the above paperback really grabbed me, so i bought the book. The book is pretty good but it IS weird .The whole thing is mainly epistolic( told in the form of letters or in this case diary entries )and breaks down the middle section when he is in a state of syphilitic dementia.In fact, it so completely captured his rambling dementia that I basically had skip over that part. On balance though, I liked it ;the ending redeemed the craziness and in fact expalined it.
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6 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars flawed, inadequate, overrated, March 18, 2002
By 
Neil Ford (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Camp Concentration (Paperback)
I came to this book having read many glorifications of it; it's supposed to be one of the capital-L Literary works that saves science fiction's reputation from the gutter of genre hackwork. Given this endorsement, I was disappointed.
The book starts well, with an interesting character in an intriguing situation, written in excellent prose. The prose remains consistent throughout, but the novel is unable to adequately explore let alone live up to its themes. The radical effects of boosted intelligence (this being the basis of the plot) are presented in eliptical form, so that, for instance, a revolutionary play is written but we never get to read a sample of its genius; a mind-transfer machine is built, with no information given about its theory or construction; and encyclopedic knowledge of alchemy is acquired, but we see only one unexplained mystical diagram and a vaguely-described "egg" (alchemical cauldron).
The narrator, we later discover, has undergone the same intelligence boost as those he observes, but there is no sign of this in his prose style or his understanding of his situation. We have to take the author's word for this change, which is hardly sufficient given its importance.
The greatest disappointment is the ending, in which, without warning or foreshadowing, it is revealed that the plot we have been following is a sham, which our super-intelligent narrator failed to divine. The angst of this camp of dying geniuses, and the constant theme of alchemy, these, which seemed to constitute the story leading to a cathartic synthesis, were a shadow-play. A story about the consequences of boosted intelligence becomes a pat escape thriller, and discards what was left of its promise.
This overrated novel is perfectly adequate for an enjoyable, escapist read, provided you expect nothing more.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unrealized potential., September 3, 2002
This review is from: Camp Concentration: A Novel (Paperback)
After recently reading numerous classic sci-fi books penned in the 1960s I've come to the realization that many of the works of that era suffered from too much agenda and too little story. _Camp Concentration_ had the correct formula to be a greatly entertaining book, but instead the story gets mired down in blatant social finger pointing and preaching. I appreciate authors who can hide their agenda WITHIN the story without having their main character(s) railing out loud (unendingly) against the establishment. I found it fairly entertaining, and the ending took me a bit by surprise...but other than that it's Disch's self indulgent pose, through the main character Sacchetti, that may turn off the average reader. This really isn't even sci-fi...but who's keeping track? ;-)
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great, July 20, 2008
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This review is from: Camp Concentration: A Novel (Paperback)
One cover review called this the best book ever ... not sure I'd go anywhere near that far, but it was good enough. I wish it had explained more of the background of the universe the book took place in (there was just enough to get the gist), and it had a nice plot twist at the end. Maybe I'm just not well-read enough, but many, if not most, of the classical references were lost on me. I was able to read this on a trip from Charlotte, NC, to Burlington, VT, with a storm delay in the middle, so even if you're only mildly interested, it won't take long to get through it.
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2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably Worthless, June 25, 2010
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This review is from: Camp Concentration: A Novel (Paperback)
My book club read two books this last month, one of which (Daniel, by Keith Yocum) we rated among the best we've read, and Camp Concentration, which we rated the worst we've read, by far. Unfortunately for other people searching through Amazon's offerings, they will find that the two books are linked by Amazon's "Bought Together" and "Also Bought" side bars, I suspect, because our book club did buy the two together.

We want to make it very clear that Daniel is an excellent read, and Camp Concentration is a complete waste of time. There, that clears our conscience- you've been warned.
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11 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Being obscure is not being intelligent - on the contrary, November 26, 2000
This review is from: Camp Concentration: A Novel (Paperback)
What is HIQ? How does it feel from the inside? Disch tries to tell us, by placing his protagonist in a situation where his IQ is enhanced artificially. But, IMHO Disch doesn't really succeed in showing what HIQ (= high IQ) feels like.
There are scores of books describing the differences between HIQ persons and normal people. Here come some of the characteristics Kevin Kearney sums up in the book "Accidental Genius": having excessive amounts of energy, high sensitivity, extreme equity orientation, being bored easily, challenging authority, being extremely democratic oriented, being easily frustrated, extreme perfectionisme, they are intuitive and can predict what you're going to say before you say it. HIQ also has to do with being able to see connections easily, drawing conclusions from a few facts, clarity of thought.
Disch's geniuses show almost none of these charactersitics. They would have reacted very different on their situation, if they had. When Disch wants to show his geniuses's thought patterns the protagonists are being thrown into mental states, that can be best compared to being high on drugs or drunk. Partly because of that, but also when the protagionists are described in a more normal state, the book contains a lot of talking and thinking that I couldn't follow without an encyclopedia, since my knowledge of Renascence philosophy is not very impressive. Disch seems to use (f.i.) the discussions of Saint Thomas as a way to make the reader feel that these geniuses can comprehend difficult things. But that's my point. Being a genius has very little to do with knowledge. And beside that: I didn't pick this book in order to be informed on Renascence. I wanted to read about intelligence.
There are better ways to show what HIQ feels like from the inside, then using a wide beam of irrelevant, specialist, knowledge. Daniel Keyes for instance succeeds very well in showing the growth in clarity, the better deductions, the enhanced reasoning in his "Flowers for Algernon"
And even if Renascence philosphy would have been the best way to descibe geniality, then it would have been not only common courtesy to let the readers in on some of the basic principles, it would have also made it easier to comprehend how very excellent (perhaps) the thought patterns of the protagonists on this subject really were. Now, without this, all these philosophical side dishes made the book hard work, and not great fun to read, in my opinion.
So if you want to read a plausible story on what happens when someones IQ is enhanced suddenly, and what HIQ feels like, dont expect to much of this book.
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11 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Contemptible, September 10, 1999
By A Customer
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This review is from: Camp Concentration: A Novel (Paperback)
Sixties burnout pap. Sloppily written, confusing, obviously rushed into print. Could not finish it (read 2/3, the last 30 pages or so being a real chore). Why other reviewers like this dreadful misshpapen thing is utterly beyond me.
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0 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the Worst, November 14, 2010
This review is from: Camp Concentration: A Novel (Paperback)
I read this book in 1982. I only remember it because it was hard to get through and disapointing. Maybe I need to get syphilis to understand it ...
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Camp Concentration: A Novel
Camp Concentration: A Novel by Thomas M. Disch (Paperback - April 27, 1999)
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