A collection of essays. A sampler, not a thematic collection. But Dalrymple brings his usual wit and insight to all of them, from medical issues in William Shakespeare's plays, to public discourse, to government bureaucracy, to the importance of standard English to slum children, to the psychology of terrorism.
Includes a great many appalling insights in the horrors of bureaucracy. One would say incompetence if there were any evidence that the bureaucrats were actually trying to carry out their professed purpose. For which, as Dalrymple points out, evidence is not exactly plentifully scattered on the grounds.
The reviews are the most mixed of them. Some I didn't like much at all. Then, that may be the subject matter. His interest in Ibsen is enlivened by seeing the practical results. Like Ghosts, where a character confidently states that those who spread venereal disease were the respectable husbands and fathers, not the artists living outside the bounds of matrimony -- a view which Dalrymple's clinical experience does not bear out.
Interesting stuff, touching on all levels of society.