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How to Be Free by Tom Hodgkinson
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How to Be Free

by Tom Hodgkinson

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It's hard to say all the ways this books disappointed me, because there are so many.

It started off well, pointing out flaws with our modern way of life, but then failed to offer any useful ways to counter this that I wasn't doing already. Sure, it's easy to quit your job and work from home if you're an author, but not everyone can do this. How about selling crafts? His description of people effectively living in a work-shy commune is fine, but they still need to either buy the house, or pay rent. How do they do that if they haven't got any money? It feels like it was written by a 16-year-old that wants to ignore all responsibility.

My biggest annoyance though was his looking back at the middle ages as some kind of great example of how life should be lived. Mr Wilkinson seems to think that the middle ages were one big party as he never once mentions all the bad that were around at the time. Wilkinson wouldn't last very long in his beloved middle ages, because instead of bailiffs chasing him for unpaid services he gladly took on, his propensity not to work would mean no food for the winter and certain death.

You don't need this book. All you need to know is to simplify your life. Buy less, take on as few services as you can, and do things you enjoy in your spare time. That's all there is to it. ( )
3 vote Adonis72 | Feb 10, 2010 |
Mostly enjoyed the encouraging and questioning tone of the book.It's big success for me is to tie strands together so that the connection between capatalism, society and the individual can be seen from a new perspective. The idea that one can find a better way to live a more contented and self sufficient life by questioning received ideas about lots of aspects of life. One small thing that grates is that the notion that life was always better in the past - I've a feeling that people have been saying that for hundreds of years, but I suppose it's better than postponing living for the sake of some better future. All in all if I had to explain the book to someone, I'd summarize by saying that you need to take responsibility for as much of your own happiness as possible and find the strength to go your own way. ( )
  mearso | Feb 1, 2010 |
Occassionally I read the reviews by other people, and I wonder if they've read the same book as me!Tom Hodgkinson's book seems to me not to be a self help guide. It doesn't provide a programme to follow to be free, but it argues, occassionally eloquently, that it is possible for everyone to loosen their 'Mind Forged Manacles'. Much of his method for doing this revolves around taking control and responsibility for or and for your own life. If you hate your job then change it. If you have a nagging feeling that you're working to maintain a lifestyle in order to keep up with the Joneses, or to maintain a crippling mortgage then look at the alternatives.It felt to me more like a companion peace to the Chumbawamba and Crass albums that I've been listening to all these years. An easy introduction to the theory behind the calls for anarchy. Some of his arguments are of course flawed. At least, assuming that you're reading this post on a computer, then the call to take back understanding in technology so that you're not behest to 'the man' is optimistic at best. Like many others, I'm happy to buy the bits to build a computer, but I couldn't tell you how to make the chips themselves, (beyond a hand waving explanation) never mind actually designing the chips. We live in a world where the ability to purchase technology which is way beyond our individual understanding is part of modern life. I guess the question is whether you buy in to the rat race, or take a more moderate approach.It didn't provide any life changing suggestions to me. I think I fell out with the concept of consumerism a long time ago. My current PC is new, but the previous one was only replaced when it died on me after more than 6 years. My iPod is one that I bought second hand on eBay cos they were being sold off cheap by loads of people who had rushed out to buy an iPhone as soon as they became available (better for me, I chose to run Rockbox on it anyway...), but some of the ideas have given me food for thought, and as we embark on another years vegetable growing (something that we were doing before I read this book) it has given me a renewed enthusiasm for the joys of cultivation. ( )
  fieldri1 | May 8, 2009 |
An eye-opening read when travelling to work. More fellow traveller should read it instead of bleating into their mobile phones. The author 's assumptions are well supported with qoutations from historic sources. ( )
  CaptainHaddock | Feb 16, 2009 |
I agree with 90% of Hodgkinson's book, and was kind of pleased to find that I live my live in line with 75% of it. It's really just some well-worn situationist, anarchist and green ideas, warmed up and made palatable for Observer readers. It's another of those books that outstays its welcome: after you've read two thirds of it, you can predict exactly where each chapter is heading just from its title. ( )
  djalchemi | Feb 5, 2009 |
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Drawing on anarchist writing and individualist philosophy, Tom Hodgkinson looks at definitions of freedom in history, philosophy and poetry. He champions the belief that it is better to be poor and free than rich and enslaved.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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