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Millennium People [Kindle Edition]

J. G. Ballard
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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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


“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.” (Esquire [UK])

“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.” (The Guardian)

“Ballard is a natural surrealist; his is a world where the unthinkable is commonplace and rationality chucked in the towel long ago.... Ballard's phrasing is as sure as ever. He writes wonderfully well about London. His characterization is as vivid as it is strange. An extremely unsettling novel. 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.” (John Preston - The Scotsman)

“Ballard's flowing prose exerts its usual hypnotic spell and there are many darkly beautiful moments.” (Andrew Martin - Daily Express)

“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.” (The Economist)

Millennium People will compete with the best of contemporary British fiction.” (Ian Thomson - The Independent)

“Starred Review. Ballard is a British Philip K. Dick, heir to Conrad and H.G. Wells, in whose stories the present, taken to extremes, anticipates the future. In fact, the only complaint to be made of this bruisingly smart novel is that it has taken eight years for it to appear in the U.S.” (Publishers Weekly)


'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 (April 9, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005B039MK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #231,591 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Middle class fight club January 15, 2009
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. I felt this work was close to Crash in underlying needs of the protagonists, but without the cars. Every sentence drips with reference and detail to some other work, giving the book more meaning that just a puff piece. I think William Gibson's Spook Country comes close to the same style, but whereas Gibson's work seemed a bit contrived, Ballard's prose is more fluid. Where Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club is about a quarter life crisis, Millennium People is Edward Norton having a mid-life crisis. It would be nice to have the middle class collectively decide not to participate any more in society (what would I do?) and this book is an interesting analogy of how it might happen.

But there's a darker side to the story with the death of the main character's wife Laura at Heathrow at the beginning of the book. I was never quite sure of David Markham's reasons for continuing the new proletariat struggle, maybe it was a sense of loss, not of his wife but of his meaning within the framework of his society. His new wife's on again and off again disability is an interesting reflection of the needs people have, and how we respond to those needs. But I felt Markham's character for a professional psychologist was a little too detached. When he does get angry, I just can't feel find any depth that he really is angry.

Overall, it was a good book. I got through it quite quickly. it draws you along because you want to know more about the Heathrow bombing, and the apparent randomness of it. Because why have a planned revolution?
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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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
3.0 out of 5 stars "Losers of worlds at heaven's bidding
Watching the Devil kick the Millennium
Over the Golden Mountain." Edgar Lee Masters

"Millennium People" has an interesting story line. Read more
Published on October 27, 2011 by Leonard Fleisig
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
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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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