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High Society Hardcover – December 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This novel…should also find an audience on this side of the Atlantic.” -- Library Journal

From the Publisher

“The war on drugs has been lost. The simple fact is that the whole world is rapidly becoming one vast criminal network. From pop stars and princes to crack whores and street kids, from the Groucho Club toilets to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, we are all partners in crime.” High Society is a novel about our world today: a collection of criminal nations in which everybody is either breaking the law or knows people who do. A poignant and timely novel about “the ways in which the criminalization of drugs criminalizes us all.” Winner of the WHSmith Award for Fiction

Ben Elton, author of the number–one UK bestseller Dead Famous— which Publishers Weekly called “hilarious” and Kirkus Reviews hailed as “A delicious… fast and funny read”—is also well–known as a stand–up comedian, a scriptwriter for the British cult television series Blackadder, the playwright of three West End hits, and the author of six novels—all major UK best–sellers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers; 1st ed edition (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059304939X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593049396
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,909,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Iain on August 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This was the third Ben Elton book I've read, albeit this particular book was the one I was originally recommended (by a munter at V Festival, I might add) I actually rate this in my 5 favourite books. `High Society' is written in short sections - not chapters. This fact, along with the obvious subject matter, makes it an ideal book for the non reader. It follows the story of a few central characters, all with a connection to drugs.

Peter Paget is the main character. He is a recently revitalised back bench Labour MP, questing to pass a members bill that legalises all drugs in the UK. Tommy Hanson, the winner of (insert generic music talent show here) and a subsequent British superstar, wants to stop living like a rock'n'roll trash bag. Jessie is a 17 year old Weedgie girl who hastily moves to London, gets hooked on heroin - and ends up on the game. Sonia, an 18 year old Brummy bird gets banged up in a Thai prison for trying to smuggle heroin back to the UK. Samantha Spencer is Paget's beautiful, but emotionally unhinged parliamentary secretary. Paula Wooldridge is a recreational drug user. She is also a hack journalist determined to end Paget's career. Barry Leman is an honest, old school police officer on Paget's side. He is threatened by a couple of corrupt police officers, to keep out of drug policy.

`High Society' is an addictive (pardon the pun) page turner, full of scallywags, reprobates, junkies, drinkers, and party people. Aside from all of this frivolity, there are shrewd thoughts, honest observations, and important questions asked throughout the pages of this book. The topic is poignant, and one of the most controversial issues of our times. Although I'm not fully convinced - Ben Elton argues a good case for the legalisation of drugs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Scott Pendergast on November 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed all of Ben Elton's books, but none so much as High Society. This tremendously well thought out book is difficult to put down. The running stories move rapidly together with amazing clarity and wit. The book follows the lives of several charactors and their relations with drugs. From the drug enslaved prostitute to the member of parliament pushing to have all drugs legalised. You'll finish this book with a mournful sense that you know the charactors stories in an intimate way. As well as hearing a commentary on the modern day war on drugs with such clarity that you feel astonished.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Sullivan on March 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
This was my first read or for that matter first exposure to Ben Elton. I was hooked in the very first paragraph, very funny and yes over the top characters. But that is what is fun about the book, a comical stereotypical handling of a very serious subject: Drugs and the possible effects of legalization of drugs. I have often re-read the exerps of the lead character Tommy Hanson the Rock Star. I am currently reading DEAD FAMOUS and will probably read STARK next. Buy HIGH SOCIETY, read it, enjoy it, good read for your next trip by airplane.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By KEN SCOTT author on February 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Ben Elton makes me sick. Comedy writer, comedian, playrite, producer and now novelist. As much as I wanted to criticise his writing skills or the plot or the characters, I can't. The book takes a candid look into the murky world of drugs and asks some searching questions of government policies and peoples attitude to one of society's major problem. Well written, well researched, simply fantastic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Morr on October 17, 2012
Format: Audible Audio Edition
I've been a big fan of Ben Elton's work for quite a few years now and am delighted to see that at long last his books are being sold here in the USA - thank you Amazon! His is a prodigious talent.

This book covers a wide range of topics; drug dealing and addiction, prostitution and human trafficking and touches on dodgy political practice and maneuvering that is really corruption - lite coupled with a wee bit of human redemption. Who else but Ben Elton could write a story about these disparate elements that is readable, amusing and at the same thought-provoking and somewhat sobering?
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Format: Hardcover
I always like Ben Elton's writing style and comedic take on quite serious matters. I am the polar opposite to him in political views but still can appreciate his viewpoints and funny stories.
This is not his best book but an easy, funny read that raises some interesting political points whilst also ridiculing politicians and other members of British society.
Give him a try as an author if you haven't already tried him, you may be pleasantly surprised.

My favourite of his is Blind Faith which is his comedy take on 1984 except it is the polar opposite where everything is public. This is a good one to start with for this author especially if you have read 1984 (and who hasn't) and was laugh out loud for me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
High Societyis one of Ben Elton's best novels. It's funny, it's well written and addresses a serious issue. No - scrap that: It's very funny, it's very well written and addresses a serious issue in an intelligent and convincing manner. As a non-drug user I still had an indirect experience through a close family friend and I lost a friend from school to drugs. I find Elton's arguments to legalize drugs absolutely convincing and I second his suggestion.
This should be compulsory reading for politicians.
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