Dennis Sewell

Are We Quite Mad?

How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered The World: A Short History of Modern Delusions


Fourth Estate 256pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO fix precisely when Reason nodded and the Age of Bunkum began. You could make a respectable case that good sense has been outweighed by utter drivel in every time and place since the fall of man. Yet a book has to start somewhere. So, while noting that his choice is probably as much mischievous as arbitrary, let’s accept without further cavil Francis Wheen’s proposed date of 1979 – the year that brought us the Ayatollah Khomeini and Margaret Thatcher – as the year when modern delusions first slipped the bonds of rationality and took wing.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,