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Millennium People [Kindle Edition]

J. G. Ballard
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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14th Deadly Sin
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Book Description

"The most cosmically elegiac writer in literature . . . no one reading Ballard could doubt the tidal gravity of his intellect." —Jonathan Lethem, New York Times Book Review

Violent rebellion comes to London’s middle classes in this “fascinating” (San Francisco Chronicle) novel from the same author of Crash and Empire of the Sun. Never more timely, Millennium People “seeks to illuminate our hearts of darkness while undermining our assumptions about what literature is meant to do” (Los Angeles Times).

Editorial Reviews


Praise for 'Super-Cannes': 'Sublime!The first essential novel of the 21st century.' Independent Praise for 'Cocaine Nights': 'Britain's number one living novelist. This adds a glinting new facet to his achievement -- Ballard, detective-novelist extraordinary.' Sunday Times Praise for 'The Complete Short Stories': 'Compelling!one of the most haunting, cogent and individual imaginations in contemporary literature.' William Boyd, Mail on Sunday Esquire -- Sept 2003 "Ballard, acutely fierce as ever, detonates a bomb under Middle England in his continuing attempt to shock the middle classes out of complacency and into violent struggle" Bookseller -- 20 June 03 "[Ballard's] work has lost none of its power to disturb. Millennium People dissects a society without purpose, in which a population is numbed by an infantilising culture and invigorated only by the appeal of violence!" Daily Telegraph -- 23 August 2003 "!a horribly riveting work from a writer of rare imaginative largesse, a bearer of bad tidings unforgettably told." Literary Review -- Sept 2003 "Once again Ballard offers a masterly portrayal of a society coming apart at its civilised seams. And his text shimmers with the totems of modernity! There's still no disputing that Ballard is one of the most intelligent, important and thought-provoking writers this country has to offer. He tackles the modern human condition like no other writer. It is only a matter of time before Ballardian enters the English language." TLS -- 5 September 2003 "One of the novel's most successful aspects is the plausibility with which Ballard sketches the possible crossovers between political motivation and motiveless sociopathy, and Markham's attempts to resolve both the situation and his own mind are also rendered with a convincing giddy energy, as the plot moves to an inevitably violent conclusion." The Independent -- 6 September 2003 (article entitled 'Dystopian Rhapsody') "Millennium People is a Thames-side thriller which opens with a bomb that explodes at Heathrow!The attack on Terminal 2 turns out to be the work, not of Islamic terrorists, but of British professionals! Britain's middle-classes are the 'new proletariat'! Few writers find poetry in burning Heathrow freight offices and car-rental depots: Ballard can!. Ballard is a moralist apparently troubled by the shape of things to come and a literary saboteur of unswerving fierceness! Millennium People will compete with the best of contemporary British fiction." Evening Standard -- 1 September 2003 "Reading it is like having all the planks that underpin your life removed one by one and being forced to confront the brutality and emptiness that lies below" Guardian (Magazine) -- 6 September 2003 "Millennium People is a wonderful miasma of Ballard land."


'Wonderfully warped, blackly comic!written with Ballard's customary panache, its potent mix of sex, violence and radicalism will keep his fans happy. "Millennium People" is at once deadly serious and slightly ridiculous -- and somehow all the more unsettling for it.' Economist 'Much of the fun of "Millennium People" -- and it is one of the most amusing novels I've read in a long time -- comes from watching as the world finally catches up with Ballard and Ballard, wryly, reacts.' Guardian 'Terrifying and strangely haunting!A riveting work from a writer of rare imaginative largesse, a bearer of bad tidings, unforgettably told.' Daily Telegraph Praise for SUPER-CANNES 'Sublime! The first essential novel of the 21st century.' Independent Praise for COCAINE NIGHTS: 'Britain's number one living novelist. This adds a glinting new facet to his achievement -- Ballard, detective-novelist extraordinary.' Sunday Times Praise for THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES: 'Compelling ! one of the most haunting, cogent and individual imaginations in contemporary literature.' William Boyd, Mail on Sunday

Product Details

  • File Size: 463 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 039308177X
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (July 18, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005B039MK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,560 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Foucalt and Baudrillard: Read Ballard August 4, 2008
If you have already read "High Rise" or "Running Wild" you will easily guess the course of events in J.G. Ballard's "Millenium People:" a seemingly docile and idyllic community of educated professionals willingly regresses from the neurotic to the primitive, revealing itself capable of committing the most abject and perverse of atrocities. True, those of you familiar with Ballard's work will find little novelty here at the level of plot. What makes Ballard such a compelling author, one that we most urgently need to read, is his propensity for cultural anthropology. Ballard has always been more of a psychologist than a poet, a gifted diagnostician who is able to discern society's ailments, to outline and lucidly articulate the symptoms so that, if we so desire, we may find a cure.

This is not to say that "Millennium People" is not literary or poetic; indeed, this book is at once less vulgar than many of his early novels, and more eloquent, with few digressions and superb attention to detail, especially with regard to his characters' psychological eccentricities and nuances. Still, this book's greatest appeal lies in its cultural, psychological, and philosophical insights. For example...

On Travel: "All these trips? Let's face it, they're just a delusion. Air travel, the whole Heathrow thing, it's a collective flight from reality. People walk up to the check-ins and for once in their lives they know where they're going. Poor sods, it's printed on their tickets."

On Hollywood: "Hollywood flicks are fun, if your idea of a good time is a humburger and a milk shake. America invented the movies so it would never need to grow up. We [Brits] have angst, depression and middle-aged regret. They have Hollywood.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still at (or near) the Peak of his Powers March 22, 2004
Just about finished with the English version of Millennium People. (Since there's no translation involved, why does an English book like this take so long to come out in America? Does it really take a year to change double quotes to single quotes?) Like his two previous novels, Ballard uses the mystery for a plot device, and while in Cocaine Nights and Super Cannes, he came to the form cold in his old age, but immediately asserted his mastery, in Millennium People, he falters somewhat with his resolution of the mystery.
Moving away from his familiar theme of how the jaded West has to keep ratcheting up how it gets his kicks, he deals with senseless terrorism. Prescient, especially in light of the March 2004 attack on a hotel in Baghdad, which set a new low in terrorism in that it didn't seem to have any victims targeted. That is, Iraqis and Arabs were killed. Its aim seemed simply to create chaos like in Millennium People. While the plot is not Ballard's best, he still imbues his characters with these drop-dead little quirks that illuminates them in one line of text.
Millennium People does little to discredit him in this reviewer's eyes as the leading serious novelist in the English language. A must read for followers, and not a bad start for those new to Ballard.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Rick O
Ever since Henry David Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience in 1849, authors around the world have penned books about social and political change. Did Thoreau want a better government, or individuals doing what they thought was right? J.G. Ballard has confused me in this novel, because I don't fully understand what he wants. He writes a tale of middle class rebellion, but doesn't offer a solution to the problem. Instead he just gives up! I think the book would have been more enjoyable, if there was a resolution to ease the burden of the middle class in today's society.

Psychologist David Markham finds out that his ex-wife, Laura, is killed by a bomb in Heathrow Airport. It is also discovered that it's not done by a terrorist group, but by a possible Bourgeois cell living in London. Who are these people, and what do they want? Markham tracks down clues that leads him to a group of people living in a complex called The Estate of Chelsea Marina. He infiltrates the group and meets a cell leader, a female bomber, a priest and his girlfriend. These people are tired of being the backbone of society. They revolt by giving up their Volvos, smoke bomb travel agencies and museums, refuse to pay the mortgage, and leave their responsible jobs.

Eventually, Markham meets the leader of the revolt, Dr. Richard Gould, who persuades David Markham to join the group. This part I found hard to believe, since the change from protagonist to antagonist is accomplished in a matter of a few pages. Here is a man looking for his ex-wife's killer, now willing to participate in wanton mayhem! The ensuing disturbances are sometimes light weight, other times jumbled. The conclusion of this book is somewhat muddled and leaves a taste of incongruity in your mouth.

I know that J.G.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Losers of worlds at heaven's bidding October 27, 2011
Watching the Devil kick the Millennium
Over the Golden Mountain." Edgar Lee Masters

"Millennium People" has an interesting story line. Set in the UK shortly after the Millennium, psychologist David Markham is mourning the murder of his ex-wife. She was the victim of a terrorist bombing at Heathrow Airport. Determined to get to the bottom of the matter he begins his own personal investigation. He quickly finds himself thrown into a strange world: a world filled not with foreign interlopers from abroad or proletarian rebels but, rather, one filled with disaffected tea-sipping, Volvo-driving, over-extended mortgage holding members of the British middle classes. For reasons explained in the book they are just fed up, prisoners of their own success apparently. And, contrary to what one would expect of a stereotypical British member of the bourgeoisie, they seem easily led to increasingly violent acts. Finally, Markham meets the `hidden hand' behind the angst and from there the story comes to a rather dramatic conclusion.

By the time I was one-third of the way through J.G. Ballard's "Millennium People" I was reminded of Lindsay Anderson's 1968 movie If... (The Criterion Collection) in which a young Malcolm MacDowell play a privileged teen who, chafing at the oppression of an old, elite English boarding school, leads a group of children of the middle and upper classes on a violent revolt. Millennium People struck me a story of what those teens might get up to if they had decided to rebel against their stolid, middle class, middle-age surroundings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It started off very slow, and continued very slow, and then.. Ended showing the how pointless the book was
Published 14 days ago by Dexter Gaspard
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Par
"Millennium People" pales in comparison to "Empire of the Sun" and "Crash." In addition, the book's characters and premise are not believable and the ending is incongruous
Published on June 29, 2012 by bonnie_blu
1.0 out of 5 stars snarky smarty-pants
Existence may be inexplicable. Consciousness is an inexplicable miracle. Time is our enemy because we will inevitably lose our consciousness. Read more
Published on November 30, 2011 by Original fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Ballard's modernist view of postmodern ideas on violence and...
This is a disturbing book, narrating the emergence of high middle class pointless terrorism, as a way to fulfill the emptiness and lack of meaning in contemporary consumerism. Read more
Published on November 30, 2011 by Newton Rocha
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
I won this book in First Reads giveaways. This was a very interesting book to me. It accurately depicts what COULD happen in any culture if you push people far... Read more
Published on September 27, 2011 by The Cover (And Everything in Between)
2.0 out of 5 stars i give up
i'm sure i'm going to get some crap for this, but i've only read 52% of it, and i give up. i may end up finishing it out of sheer boredom; it is on my kindle, and frankly, it... Read more
Published on August 17, 2011 by s.miles
4.0 out of 5 stars The middle classes are revolting
the late J.G. Ballard is a sort of Don Delillo of Britain. A cultural anthropologist he expertly connects up the loose wires that lie beneath our troubled modern psyches. Read more
Published on June 15, 2009 by Sirin
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect novel!
I want to make a short review: This is one the greatest novels ever! There is an action, there is a vision, and there is a wisdom within those beautiful sentences that I want to... Read more
Published on May 21, 2009 by Pawel Kubiak
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle class fight club
It's about revolution of the Chardonnay and Starbucks set. Will you participate? Having read quite a bit of J. G. Ballard's earlier science fiction books, this is quite a change. Read more
Published on January 15, 2009 by Jim Richards
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More About the Author

Born in Shanghai in 1930, J. G. BALLARD is the author of sixteen novels, including "Empire of the Sun," "The Drowned World," and "Crash." He lived in London until his death in April 2009.

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