Dominic Streatfeild (3 stars)

Brainwash (Hodder & Stoughton)


From the man who brought us Cocaine comes the richly detailed story of mind control, the full unexpurgated past of truth drugs, hypnosis, Pavlovian experiments and sleep deprivation. Everything from the Moscow Show Trials to Guantanamo Bay and the Moonies to backward-playing heavy metal lyrics are laid before us with the mounting evidence that, perhaps, mind-altering techniques have been utilised to make people behave devoid of free will.

And it’s all highly addictive, worrying stuff. There’s only one problem. The author has spent 400 pages on a state of affairs that he doesn’t actually believe exists; rather, people will become suicide bombers, national traitors or Branch Davidians because of violence or, more effectively, the threat of violence. The notion that government agencies brainwash citizens to commit awful deeds is a solution which prevents any further research into more complicated analyses of human behaviour. Unless, of course, they got to Dominic Streatfeild too . . .

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