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The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism Hardcover – November 24, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 607 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027546
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #590,542 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Howard Bloom is an exceptional scientific writer. Though he does not have the variety of university degrees behind which historians, anthropologists and sociologists usually hide, he demonstrates two of the most basic qualities of the scientific spirit in the highest degree. He pushes himself to discover the mistakes hidden in things that are considered obvious truths. And to do it he uses the greatest range of scientific insights available, no matter what disciplinary barriers separate them. For that, he puts to work a creative imagination far outside the ordinary, the kind that belongs to the great discoverers. He apparently joins all that to an exceptional capacity for work, the kind without which nothing solid can be laid in place." -- Les Automates Intelligents, October 29, 2009

"It's an extraordinary book, exhilaratingly-written and masterfully-researched. I couldn't put it down." --James Burke, creator and host of seven BBC TV series, including Connections.

"Brilliant and powerful." --Edgar Mitchell, sixth man to walk on the Moon, pilot of Apollo 14's Lunar Module, and founder of The Institute of Noetic Sciences

"Impressive and stimulating. A tremendously enjoyable book." --James Fallows, National Correspondent for The Atlantic, Chairman of the Board of the New America Foundation, five-time finalist for the American Book Award, former White House speechwriter, author of Blind Into Baghdad and Postcards from Tomorrow Square: Reports from China.

"A visionary creation." Dr. A.P.J. Kalam, former President of India.

"Read with delight this terrific book in which Bloom re-writes the history of the West and shows us what capitalism is really all about--or what at its best it demands of us and how it rewards our innermost natures. Bloom is a thinker of the order of Herbert Spencer or Henri Bergson--he tries to see the whole picture from the origin of the universe through the origin of life to the origins of humanity and the continuity of the creativity of the cosmos in our personal and social behavior. His insights along the way are mind-churning: his portrayal of Plato's real genius as a marketer is brilliant. The bacteria who poisoned their environment and thus moved evolution upward...what a metaphor. Columbus' greatest skill was marketing not navigation, the role of tea rituals, and the tale of soap, all are wonderful. I've been writing about Max Weber and 'the spirit of capitalism' and it makes me even more aware of the brilliance of Bloom's argument about what is in the beast and how it can be tapped: capitalism does not just emerge from the Protestant ethic but from the nature of the human animal and its cosmic inheritance. Let's hope this side of the beast can win out over its parochial and narrow other self that longs for the safety of the tribe. But about the West at its best, he's right: Capitalism = Service. An amazing and brilliant book. So thrilling that it literally gives me goose bumps." --Robin Fox, former director of research for the H. F. Guggenheim Foundation, founder of the Anthropology Department at Rutgers University, co-author of The Imperial Animal and author of Kinship and Marriage

"Pure poetry, divinely begotten. It's a struggle of visions wine and wafer to become the real world's flesh and blood. I am convinced that Howard Bloom is the reincarnation of Plato. This beast is absolutely captivating; a godsend." --Mark Lamonica, author of Rio L. A. and Junkyard Dogs and William Shakespeare, winner of the Southern California Booksellers Association Nonfiction Award.

"It will grab you by the throat and shake your fundamental perceptions of life." --Robert D. Steel, former CIA clandestine case officer for extremist targets, creator Marine Corps Intelligence Center, CEO of OSS.Net, Inc., author of On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World, #1 non-fiction reviewer at

"Howard Bloom's newest book nails it once and for all. Hard to believe a book could clarify and illuminate everything swirling through and around our beleaguered selves, but this one does it!" --Richard Foreman, MacArthur Genius award-winner, founder of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater and the man the New York Times calls the "gray wizard of experimental theater."

"Capitalism de- and reconstructed--capitalism with a heart--and brain: Howard Bloom's new book marshals his vast knowledge of history, deep cultural experience and broad scientific understanding to argue for a new way. Ever since I sent away for a marketing book in the eighties whose major advice was how much money you could make marketing marketing books, I was skeptical. But marketing genius Howard Bloom may have written the greatest marketing book ever--one that puts capitalism in its cosmic context." --Dorion Sagan, author of Acquiring Genomes: A Theory Of The Origin Of Species (with Lynn Margulis) and Notes from the Holocene: A Brief History of the Future

"I imagine Howard Bloom's eyes laughing as he takes a sledgehammer to smash yet another giant icon: this time it's the sacred cow of capitalist macroeconomic theory. But when the dust clears -- and he's colorfully reconstructed the history of Western Civilization through the eyes of his latest mega-idea, it turns out capitalism is a good thing after all. We were all just wrong about why! Howard remains one of my favorite sources of new memes. Don't miss this one." --Richard Brodie, author, Virus of the Mind: the New Science of the Meme and original author of Microsoft Word

"Riveting, brilliant, remarkable, distressing, optimistic, and beautifully written. A brilliant tour de force history of the world. I found myself quoting facts from it to my friends and displaying a level of erudition far greater than they were accustomed to from me. A great book." --Michael Zilkha, CEO, Zilkha Biomass Energy

"This book pulls together (almost) everything in the universe to explain today's capitalism, from the birth of solar systems to the evolution of life forms, from Kondratieff waves to plumbing. It makes surprising sense. And it's a fun read." --Bernard Lietaer, the economist and financial architect who helped the European Union switch from local currencies to a single currency, the Euro. Author of The Future of Money, The Mystery of Money, and Of Human Wealth.

"At last a consistent free-flowing unmutilated vision for those who want to see the connection between physics, emotions, business and society. Some Bloomian terms and concepts (like reperception, messianic capitalism, cycles of boom and crash, and the universe feeling out her possibilities) have already invaded my everyday speech. This is exactly what we need: a science book meant for action and an action manual rooted in science." --Pascal Jouxtel, partner, Eurogroup Institute, Paris, author of Comment les systèmes pondent.

"In The Genius of the Beast, Howard Bloom achieves what he has set out to do--articulating a thoroughly secular call to what amounts to a spiritual mission. By tracing the capitalist impulse to innovate all the way back to its humble origins in bacteria and ants, Bloom conveys a powerful moral and evolutionary imperative for us to reinvent ourselves--and reinvigorate this system--for the sake of our collective future." --Andrew Cohen, founder EnlightenNext

"Howard Bloom has created a masterpiece! This book is the 'aha moment' that everyone needs and is deeply yearning for." --Barbara Annis, CEO, Barbara Annis & Associates, author of Leadership and the Sexes: Using Gender Science to Create Success in Business and Same Words Different Language: How Men and Women Misunderstand each other at Work and What to do About it.

"This one will soon be on the shelf beside Freud, Einstein, Darwin and Descartes. Miss this book at your peril!" --Daryl Rowland, Executive Producer, Ellen

About the Author

Howard Bloom has been called "the Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Freud of the twenty-first century" and "the next Stephen Hawking." He is the author of two acclaimed books, The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition into the Forces of History and Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century. Those books have won praise from the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Wired, Foreign Affairs, and numerous other publications. A recent visiting scholar at New York University, Bloom is the founder of the International Paleopsychology Project, founder of the Space Development Steering Committee (a group that includes Buzz Aldrin and Edgar Mitchell) and founding board member of the Epic of Evolution Society. He has appeared on Good Morning America, the CBS Morning News, CBS Nightwatch, the BBC, and over one hundred other media outlets.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

More About the Author

"I know a lot of people. A lot. And I ask a lot of prying questions. But I've never run into a more intriguing biography than Howard Bloom's in all my born days. What's so striking, besides the you-gotta-be-kidding details, is the coherence of the narrative -- the arc that still has Bloom thinking and striving with regard to space, science, transcendence, and simple clarity, 55 years later. Sweet." Paul Solman, Business and Economics Correspondent, PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer _______________

Howard Bloom has been called "the Darwin, Einstein, Newton, and Freud of the 21st Century" by Britain's Channel4 TV and "the next Stephen Hawking" by Gear Magazine.

Bloom calls his field "mass behavior" and explains that his area of study includes everything from the mass behavior of quarks to the mass behavior of human beings. He is the founder of three international scientific groups: The Group Selection Squad (started in 1995), The International Paleopsychology Project (1997), and The Space Development Steering Committee (2007), which includes Buzz Aldrin, Edgar Mitchell (the sixth man to set foot on the moon), and decision makers from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Air Force. And he's the founder of a mass-communications volunteer group that gets across scientific ideas using animation, The Big Bang Tango Media Lab (started in 2001).

Bloom comes from the world of cosmology, theoretical physics, and microbiology. But he did 20 years of fieldwork in the world of business and popular culture, where he tested his hypotheses in the real world. In 1968 Bloom turned down four graduate fellowships and embarked on what he calls his Voyage of the Beagle, an expedition to the dark underbelly where new myths, new historical movements, and new shifts in mass emotion are made.

The result: Bloom generated $28 billion in revenues (more than the gross domestic product of Oman or Luxembourg) for companies like Sony, Disney, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, and Warner Brothers. He accomplished this by taking profits out of the picture and focusing on passion and soul. He applied the same principle to star-making, helping build the careers of figures like Prince, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Bette Midler, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Billy Idol, Peter Gabriel, David Byrne, John Mellencamp, Queen, Kiss, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Run DMC, and roughly 100 others. Bloom also plunged into social causes. He helped Launch Farm Aid and Amnesty International in the United States, created two educational programs for the Black community, put together the first public-service radio advertising campaign for solar energy, and co-founded the leading national music anti-censorship movement in the United States, an organization that went toe-to-toe with Al Gore's wife Tipper and with the religious extremists manipulating her.

A former visiting scholar in the Graduate Psychology Department at New York University and a former Core Faculty Member at The Graduate Institute in two fields--Conscious Evolution and Organizational Leadership--Bloom is the author of four books: The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History ("mesmerizing"--The Washington Post), Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 21st Century ("reassuring and sobering"--The New Yorker), How I Accidentally Started The Sixties ("a monumental, epic, glorious literary achievement." Timothy Leary), and The Genius of the Beast: A Radical re-Vision of Capitalism ("exhilaratingly-written and masterfully-researched. I couldn't put it down."--James Burke).

But Bloom's chef d'oeuvre is a project of the kind that normally only lunatics undertake, the 5,700 chapters of what he unabashedly calls "The Grand Unified Theory of Everything In the Universe Including the Human Soul." Pavel Kurakin of the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Science in Moscow says that with the Grand Unified Theory of Everything In the Universe Including the Human Soul, "Bloom has created a new Scientific Paradigm. He explains in vast and compelling terms why we should forget all we know in complicated modern math and should start from the very beginning. ...Bloom's Grand Unified Theory... opens a window into entire systems we don't yet know and/or see, new...collectivities that live, love, battle, win and lose each day of our gray lives. I never imagined that a new system of thought could produce so much light."

Concludes Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Evolution's End and The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, "I have finished Howard Bloom's books, The Lucifer Principle and Global Brain, in that order, and am seriously awed, near overwhelmed by the magnitude of what he has done. I never expected to see, in any form, from any sector, such an accomplishment. I doubt there is a stronger intellect than Bloom's on the planet."

Customer Reviews

Howard Bloom is at once brilliant, funny and empathic.
Dr. Margaret Cochran
Bloom's marketing background is clearly at work in his style of writing, as is his complete lack of a background in just about every other field he approaches.
I recommend this book to anyone with a conservative bend because it will make any feeling of shame go away.
Carmen T. Verenna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Kennedy on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I admit I bought this thinking it had been written by Harold Bloom, the Harvard literary don. So I was surprised when I began reading Genius of the Beast and came up against this writer's hyperbolic style, a style which would be familiar to any advertising copywriter.

Bloom is described somewhere in the multiple blurbs all over this book as a marketing genius, and that's what I'll happily take him as. As a revolutionary thinker? His argument boils down to "Technology will save us", nothing I haven't read anywhere before.

What is exceptional about the book is the way Bloom hypes his ideas. He's broadly read, and seems to enjoy synthesizing ideas from a variety of specializations and making them his own.

The book is conceived in a series of 'mini' chapters, each of which present one idea simply, and then, in a snowball effect, Bloom rolls them all together.

Personally, I found his insanely over-amped style (which is reflected in the tone of some of the other reviews here) to be counter-productive. Like the language of brilliant advertising, it's there to gloss over something.

However, on the positive side, Bloom is clearly a positive and ambitious thinker, not to be dismissed.
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84 of 102 people found the following review helpful By HPN on January 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As other reviewers have written, Howard Bloom's "The Genius of the Beast" is unorganized and haphazardly written. It is also full of errors, stretched analogies and made up word jumbles (secular genesis machine?!?). Frankly, it reads as a conclusion in search for any data point that might support it when squinted at just the right way.

As far as errors are concerned, the book has a complete misunderstanding of biology which Bloom claims helps to explain the cycle of boom/bust in a human economy. I'm a biologist, so these errors jump out at me, and I shudder to think about the number of errors in the rest of the book that I didn't pick up because they related to other fields of expertise. For example, Bloom goes on for an entire chapter about the Dictyostelium slime mold, yet continuously calls it a bacterium (which it is not, and is like writing about dogs and calling them snails). He also has no idea about the biological role of microtubules inside the cell, yet uses their inherent dynamic instability (but a small bit of their cellular function) to try and explain worldwide economies. These and his honeybee and evolution analogies show that he has no understanding about these topics besides what he managed to glean from reading one or two magazine articles about them (including references in the back to primary literature doesn't mean he read or understood them). And if he did understand them, then letting these errors into his prose suggests he doesn't care about accuracy but only in furthering his thesis (SPOILER: which is that capitalism is good. No idea how this makes it a radical re-vision of the topic).
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By J. Scott Shipman on November 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Bloom may have a modern-day classic in this book. He has managed to perform a work of consilence on the history of man (life, really) and provide insight in the how's, what's, where's, and why's of capitalism and how we treat customers and each other. I must admit as a newcomer to Bloom's work, the first 130 pages left me wondering, "where is he going?" Bloom provides an extraordinary grasp of machinations and implications of capitalism, warts and all---he leaves no stone unturned in his critical assessments and his heart-felt endorsements. He provides not only reasons for hope, but proven tools and methods to get things done. The intellectual honesty and power of his thesis cannot be ignored. Strongest recommendation!
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55 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Steve Waite on December 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a fan of Bloom's previous book "Global Brain," I was looking forward to delving into "The Genius of the Beast" (The Beast) and writing a 5-star review. But, sadly, after reading the book, there is no 5-star review from this reader. I found The Beast disappointing on all counts. I found the writing sloppy and the organization and flow of the chapters disjointed. One moment I am reading about the dynamics of bee hives and ants and the next moment I am reading about Bloom's personal adventures in the music business. My sense is that the author was having fun, a blast perhaps, trying to weave all this disjointed information together in a coherent fashion to support his main argument, but I found his excursions were a distraction. My primary problem with the book, however, is that there is nothing radical about the author's re-vision of capitalism. Bloom, through his research and experience, has discovered that capitalism is superior to other economic systems. Whoa! What a discovery! I hate to be sarcastic here, but I just don't get it. Anybody that has seriously studied economics and the science of complexity could tell you that capitalism is superior to socialism, communism, and all the other isms as an engine of economic progress. Perhaps Bloom's political leanings and background have prevented him from seeing what it obvious to any serious student of economics and complexity. I don't know the man so I cannot say. Those who are familiar with George Gilder's "Wealth and Poverty," Michael Rothschild's "Bionomics, " M.Read more ›
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