Howard Bloom writes an intriguing, timely, well-researched, fascinating-to-read account of the “Western” market capitalist system as the social extension of nature’s ‘evolutionary search strategy’, an ongoing, universal, process of groping forward into the realm of unrealized possibility to creatively ratchet up the progress of the kosmos. In so doing, he offers a much-needed positive intrepretation of market capitalism as the most powerful force for improving the world, a messianic role which imbues it with far greater meaning that mere profit-making. He also recasts the seeming frivolity, vanity, and waste of consumerism as indispensible drivers of this great economic engine of progress.

Bloom provides much food for thought. He falls short only in either too quickly dismissing or otherwise giving too little attention to minimizing the shortcomings of capitalism, such as strategies which would: constrain capitalism to the playing field of the market and keeping it out of the rule-making chambers of government which should deliberate the public good rather than privilege private profit; limit capitalism’s consumption and production activities such that they do not destroy the environment in which they are embedded and so ensure it will remain a sustainable platform for human progress; ensure that the wealth capitalism creates fulfills its potential to lift masses out of poverty rather than simply further enriching the already rich thereby increasing income disparity; and reign-in unbridled status-seeking in cases where capitalist competition for superior relative ranking end ups making everyone worse off.

What The Genius of the Beast really lacks, however, is an editor. While Bloom does a extraordinary job presenting complex ideas in easy-to-understand language and effectively uses fascinating historical illustrations to make his points, the seemingly endless repetition of his novel catch-phrases and the disregard for the use of complete sentences will leave the careful reader annoyed that an otherwise stellar work of scholarship and intellectual creativity did not receive the polishing it so deserved.

Regardless, I highly recommend the book to everyone. Whether you are interested in history, popular culture, literature, business, sociology, psychology, economics, anthropology, or media, you will find something of Genius in Bloom’s book.