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High Society Hardcover – December 1, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This novel…should also find an audience on this side of the Atlantic.” -- Library Journal

From the Publisher

“The war on drugs has been lost. The simple fact is that the whole world is rapidly becoming one vast criminal network. From pop stars and princes to crack whores and street kids, from the Groucho Club toilets to the poppy fields of Afghanistan, we are all partners in crime.” High Society is a novel about our world today: a collection of criminal nations in which everybody is either breaking the law or knows people who do. A poignant and timely novel about “the ways in which the criminalization of drugs criminalizes us all.” Winner of the WHSmith Award for Fiction

Ben Elton, author of the number–one UK bestseller Dead Famous— which Publishers Weekly called “hilarious” and Kirkus Reviews hailed as “A delicious… fast and funny read”—is also well–known as a stand–up comedian, a scriptwriter for the British cult television series Blackadder, the playwright of three West End hits, and the author of six novels—all major UK best–sellers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Publishers; 1st ed edition (December 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 059304939X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0593049396
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 10.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,854,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ben Elton takes on the subject of drugs in Britain through the eyes of a rock star, a transplanted Scottish teenage girl in Birmingham, and a back-bench MP. All three are portrayed with humour and sensitivity in their various encounters with drugs. The rock star, who is given an endearing Brummie accent (it might not be easy for Americans to follow, but it is worth the effort) struggles constantly to reform, ultimately meeting the teenager in a doorway inadvertently one night after being mugged and robbed of his possessions. After she is recaptured by her pimps, his life is transformed in a quest to find her. But it is the story of the MP that is most entertaining and captivating. Peter Paget's speech to the house becomes a bill to legalize all drugs and undermine the dealers and their criminal world. Paget becomes a national hero, and his family--especially his elder daughter--likewise transforms into loves of the nation, until it all goes badly wrong through an affair with his youthful, but unstable secretary. The media's power to heroize and then scorn is well captured in this brilliantly written and absorbing book, the best of the four I have read by Elton so far. Ultimately the lesson may be that there are many sides to the "war on drugs,"but no consensus. And we are left to wonder whether in fact legalization is a possible answer.
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Format: Hardcover
This was the third Ben Elton book I've read, albeit this particular book was the one I was originally recommended (by a munter at V Festival, I might add) I actually rate this in my 5 favourite books. `High Society' is written in short sections - not chapters. This fact, along with the obvious subject matter, makes it an ideal book for the non reader. It follows the story of a few central characters, all with a connection to drugs.

Peter Paget is the main character. He is a recently revitalised back bench Labour MP, questing to pass a members bill that legalises all drugs in the UK. Tommy Hanson, the winner of (insert generic music talent show here) and a subsequent British superstar, wants to stop living like a rock'n'roll trash bag. Jessie is a 17 year old Weedgie girl who hastily moves to London, gets hooked on heroin - and ends up on the game. Sonia, an 18 year old Brummy bird gets banged up in a Thai prison for trying to smuggle heroin back to the UK. Samantha Spencer is Paget's beautiful, but emotionally unhinged parliamentary secretary. Paula Wooldridge is a recreational drug user. She is also a hack journalist determined to end Paget's career. Barry Leman is an honest, old school police officer on Paget's side. He is threatened by a couple of corrupt police officers, to keep out of drug policy.

`High Society' is an addictive (pardon the pun) page turner, full of scallywags, reprobates, junkies, drinkers, and party people. Aside from all of this frivolity, there are shrewd thoughts, honest observations, and important questions asked throughout the pages of this book. The topic is poignant, and one of the most controversial issues of our times. Although I'm not fully convinced - Ben Elton argues a good case for the legalisation of drugs.
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Format: Paperback
I've enjoyed all of Ben Elton's books, but none so much as High Society. This tremendously well thought out book is difficult to put down. The running stories move rapidly together with amazing clarity and wit. The book follows the lives of several charactors and their relations with drugs. From the drug enslaved prostitute to the member of parliament pushing to have all drugs legalised. You'll finish this book with a mournful sense that you know the charactors stories in an intimate way. As well as hearing a commentary on the modern day war on drugs with such clarity that you feel astonished.
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Format: Paperback
This was my first read or for that matter first exposure to Ben Elton. I was hooked in the very first paragraph, very funny and yes over the top characters. But that is what is fun about the book, a comical stereotypical handling of a very serious subject: Drugs and the possible effects of legalization of drugs. I have often re-read the exerps of the lead character Tommy Hanson the Rock Star. I am currently reading DEAD FAMOUS and will probably read STARK next. Buy HIGH SOCIETY, read it, enjoy it, good read for your next trip by airplane.
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Format: Audible Audio Edition
I've been a big fan of Ben Elton's work for quite a few years now and am delighted to see that at long last his books are being sold here in the USA - thank you Amazon! His is a prodigious talent.

This book covers a wide range of topics; drug dealing and addiction, prostitution and human trafficking and touches on dodgy political practice and maneuvering that is really corruption - lite coupled with a wee bit of human redemption. Who else but Ben Elton could write a story about these disparate elements that is readable, amusing and at the same thought-provoking and somewhat sobering?
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Format: Paperback
Ben Elton is easily my favourite author. Not sure why he doesn't receive wider recognition, particularly in the US. High Society, like a lot of Ben Elton books, is ahead of its time in that it identifies and explores issues that currently have little support, but will be mainstream issues in a few years time. And like most of Ben Elton's books, it's very moving, funny and compelling reading. This was the first Ben Elton book I purchased and is still my favourite.
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