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Book Review: Endgame by Derrick Jensen January 2, 2007

Posted by Andreas in Book Reviews.

My rating: 8 out of 10 – challenging, radical, controversial and inspiring.

Derrick Jensen’s massive two volume book Engame is all about the demise of industrial civilisation. Not only does Jensen believe this to be inevitable, he thinks it’s desirable and he encourages all of us to make it a reality as soon as possible.

Derrick Jensen

Jensen is an anarcho-primitivist, in fact he’s a leading light (if anarchists can be said to have leading lights…) of this controversial, but increasingly popular fringe of the diverse anarchist community. “What commentary of any real relevance could be coming from a fringe of the farthest left?” I hear you ask. A considerable amount, actually, which probably explains its growing popularity.

Engame Volume 1

The basic premise of the books is that industrial civilisation as we know it today and as it has been in existence on this planet for the last several thousand years is founded on the exploitation of non-renewable natural resources and is therefore, by definition, unsustainable and what’s more, incompatible with life on earth.

Endgame Volume 2

The two volumes, subtitled The Problem of Civilization and Resistance respectively, are a great introduction to the key concepts currently in vogue among the radical green left and even if you don’t consider yourself a part of that scene, you will still find Endgame to make compelling reading. Jensen takes on the liberal environmentalist establishment and pushes many of its arguments to their logical, if often extreme, conclusion. The reader is constantly forced to confront and evaluate fundamental issues in her or his own life philosophy.

At a combined total of over 900 pages and considering the weighty subject matter, this is not exactly easy fair, but Jensen’s conversational style, his use of many personal anecdotes and his own brand of irreverent humor make it surprisingly readable. Sure, it is long and there is some repetition, but I never found it dull.

If you are a Jensen fan, this is a must-read synthesis of his philosophy. If you have not come across this author before, but are concerned about environmental matters and worried about were civilisation is headed, this monumental work provides an unusual but powerful alternative perspective. A great read!



1. Michael Loughlin - December 12, 2008

Jensen makes lots of sense. You cannot help but sympathize. Occasionally you feel it is all rhetoric since acting the way Jensen preaches or implies would get you imprisoned and committed. In world of insanity and violence, fighting standard assumptions is considered deviant and dangerous. I do not see how anything will stop civilization and technology from doing its own destructive work. Modern Luddism is quaint, sad, and hopeless just as civilization is exciting, destructive, and suicidal. Neo-Romantic activists like Jensen need a bit more of Edward Abbey’s humore and metaphor rather than pedestrian violence.

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