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Utopian Dreams Hardcover – January 11, 2007

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (January 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057122380X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571223800
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,619,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"'Probes our modern dissatisfactions with an exemplary intelligence...very much a book for our time.' Independent" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Tobias Jones studied at Jesus College, Oxford. He was on the staff of the London Review of Books and the Independent on Sunday before moving to Parma in 1999. His first book, The Dark Heart of Italy, was published to great acclaim in 2003.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous VINE VOICE on April 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Tobias Jones here chronicles a year of searching for "community"; what exactly he sought under this name never becomes completely clear. He disdains for the most part the comfortable exoticism he might have used in superficial accounts of hippie-esque communes, at least after he spends an unsatisfying (and unsatisfied) first chapter detailing a visit to Damanhur, an Italian center of profitable new-age mumbo-jumbo. After this he gravitates away from alternative culture and toward religious communities, and the most interesting segment of the book deals with his time at Nomadelfia, a decades-old Italian village community which seems at once shockingly radical as a utopia of shared labor and shockingly reactionary in its ardent Catholicism. Subsequent chapters chronicle time spent at a couple of British communities as well; a Quaker-influenced retirement community is a bit of a strange fit with the rest of the book, but places that focus on helping -- and preaching to -- marginal or homeless people, recovering criminals and addicts, in Britain make up most of the rest of this short book.

Jones is an apt and interesting reporter when he focuses on description of what is around him, but all too often he veers (in the standard vein of bad travel writing) toward narcissistic introspection -- or, even worse, into facile and trite social analysis. Parts of this book become almost intolerable in their glib overgeneralizing about modern (or "postmodern") society's alleged overreliance on "choice" and "freedom" and its supposedly destructive secularism. This stuff may have been meaningful to Jones as he made his own personal journey, but it's absurdly simplistic and also just dull as social thought.
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