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Devil's Advocate

by John Humphrys

ISBN 009180048X / 9780091800482 / 0-09-180048-X
Publisher Hutchinson
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

John Humphrys has been a journalist since he left school at the age of 15. He is now one of the most respected broadcasters of his generation and his interviews on Radio Four's Today programme are regarded by some as compulsive and compulsory listening. In his debut book, Devil's Advocate, he draws on 40 years of experience to look at the changes that have been happening in Britain and possible future scenarios. The first section of the book is devoted to what he calls "the shoulder-shrugging society" and he doesn't paint a very pretty picture. He argues that the British have lost the concept of shame--an excuse is always found if someone does something wrong; children are losing their innocence at an earlier age; people increasingly think of themselves as victims; they are terribly sentimental, confusing genuine caring with wearing a ribbon and feeling good is the goal of modern life. So what is to blame for this appalling malaise? Humphrys believes it's "consumer populism"--everything being judged according to its commercial value. The situation is exacerbated by the media, which is also under commercial pressure, and becoming increasingly trivial in a bid to chase the ratings. He doesn't offer any quick-fix solutions to the problems, but encourages readers to dissent and keep questioning the accepted wisdom. This book is very strongly argued and there is plenty to agree and disagree with. It achieves exactly what Humphrys is famous for--stimulating debate. --Carina Trimingham [via]