This book is a rich and potent come-down for anyone who, like me, was once swept away by Terence McKenna’s cheerleading for the eschaton, or has been embraced by any form of utopian fervour. It doesn’t mean McKenna was “wrong”, or that there’s no place for the image of paradise in human life. Only, Gray’s exposure of the dark side of utopian yearning is so thorough and compelling, it’s hard not to come out the other side of his work feeling wiser and less simpled-minded. Gray has the contempt for fundamentalist faith of Dawkins, but he sees both the “irreducible reality of religion” and the unconscious faiths in secular politics and science. His narrative seems as crucial as McKenna’s for making sense of the world today.