Paperbacks: Black Mass, by John Gray

Bracing in its iconoclasm, John Gray's cyclical view of world history fuels a bleak but plausible polemic. He believes that the replacement of millenarianism by

revolutionary movements and liberal humanism was "a continuation of religion by other means". Hammering both believers and Richard Dawkins, who "relies on a Christian world view", Gray suggests in this book that the death of secular hope may mean "the re-birth of

faith-based wars". The only way to break this cycle is to recognise that politics is "the art of responding to the flux of circumstances". We need no grand vision but "the courage to cope with recurring evils".