In spite of his brief career as a "New Right" philosopher in the Thatcher era, John Gray has always held much more appeal for the thoughtful liberal-left.
A spectre at the liberal feast, a mocking reminder of frailty behind the smug triumph of reform, he has over a shelf-full of incisive books shown progressives that "politics is only a small part of human existence, and the human animal only a very small part of the world".
Packed with forceful ideas and necessary heresies, this primer from three decades of writing will revive the respect of existing admirers and should recruit many more.
Gray's scepticism about human nature and all the dreams of Enlightenment – socialist, capitalist and secularist alike – is a vital corrective to Utopians of all sorts. "A little realism would surely be useful": this book, with passion and eloquence, delivers it in bulk.