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The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism Paperback – October 25, 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"It is absolutely one of the most thrilling (I mean that—it gives me goose bumps) books I have ever read."
—Robin Fox, Rutgers University

"Impressive and stimulating. A tremendously enjoyable work."
—James Fallows, national correspondent for the Atlantic

"The Genius of the Beast is a tour de force."
—Washington Times

"In this recapitulation of the universe’s evolutionary thrust—and humanity’s part of it—Howard Bloom proves to be a provocative, even an inspiring, thinker."
—ForeWord Reviews

"Engrossing, uplifting, and educational . . . fascinating."
—Monsters and Critics

"I really could not put it down. Ultimately, I found the book a tremendously optimistic, motivating, exciting read that I look forward to tackling again."
—NewsReal

"Capitalism does indeed work, scholar Bloom boldly affirms in this at-once brash and well-considered treatise, in which, in his own words, he applies a new lens to viewing the entire course of Western civilization. . . . The problem . . . [lies] in the way capitalism has come to be viewed. This long, provocative, needs-to-be-read book seeks to rectify that situation. What he explains here, in detailed arguments, is that ‘capitalism and the Western system hide astonishing abilities.’ Spend time with this eye-opener."
—Booklist

"Riveting, brilliant, remarkable, distressing, optimistic, and beautifully written. A brilliant . . . history of the world."
—Michael Zilkha, CEO of Zilkha Biomass Energy

"Get this book and read it. Bloom’s assessments are thoughtful and inspiring. Thank you, Howard Bloom; you have bridged generations and thoughts and tied together facts that otherwise would have gone unnoticed."
—Zenpundit

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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 607 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Reprint edition (October 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616144785
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616144784
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,113,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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