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Brave New World | [Aldous Huxley]

Brave New World

When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming, and media: has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller's genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 A.F. (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

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Publisher's Summary

When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

On the 75th anniversary of its publication, this outstanding work of literature is more crucial and relevant today than ever before. Cloning, feel-good drugs, anti-aging programs, and total social control through politics, programming, and media: has Aldous Huxley accurately predicted our future? With a storyteller's genius, he weaves these ethical controversies in a compelling narrative that dawns in the year 632 A.F. (After Ford, the deity). When Lenina and Bernard visit a savage reservation, we experience how Utopia can destroy humanity.

©1932 Aldous Huxley; ©1998 BBC Audiobooks America; (P)2003 BBC Audiobooks America

What the Critics Say

"British actor Michael York's refined and dramatic reading captures both the tone and the spirit of Huxley's masterpiece." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-17-14 Member Since 2014

    I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.

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    "Nowhere near as powerful as Orwell's 1984."

    Brave New World is often help up as being the partner of 1984. Both have different versions of dystopian futures where humanity loses its individuality to a faceless system that destroys independent thought.

    1984 stuck with me long after I read it, but Brave New World never touched me on an emotional level. I found it redundant, slow and boring. I also think that the book failed to make it's point.

    Huxley examines the world government that is based on control through pleasure-induced apathy, without ever providing evidence as to why it was a bad system. We're just supposed to take it on faith that it is. Art is gone, and passion is gone, even love is gone... which is appalling on its face. But that's a subjective reaction on the part of the reader. I love my family and I can't imagine being happy in world without families... but objectively, and undeniably these people ARE happy.

    What we don't hear about is the progress of the sciences outside of the sciences which support the system of control. Is humanity still exploring the universe? Are we learning and progressing as a species? In 1984, the answer to these questions was an obvious "no". Humans and humanity as a whole were getting stupider. In Brave New World we know they're being systematically cut off from literature and art... basically all the "humanities" subjects. But what about everything else?

    There is plenty to think about here, but while 1984 is a perfect 5-star book in my opinion, Brave New World falls short. Still an important read, and an interesting cautionary tale.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-04-14
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 08-04-14 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "BRAVE NEW WORLD"

    “Brave New World”, by Aldous Huxley, is a dystopian view of the world that describes the potential consequence of idolatry, media conditioning, and drug dependence.

    Huxley’s atheism peeks through the pages of “Brave New World”. His main character, the Savage, is raised in an Indian culture that venerates a god that stipulates what is good and evil. The Savage leaves this Indian culture to live in a “Brave New World” that believes in another god named “Ford”.

    The logical extension of Huxley’s primitive world is no better than a “Brave New World”. Dictatorship, the opiate of media entertainment and a drug culture are evident in both worlds.

    Huxley was one of those extraordinary human beings that have what Abraham Maslow called a “superior perception of reality”.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 01-24-14
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 01-24-14 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

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    "How did this become a classic?"

    There's no getting around it, Brave New World is a bad book. It's the story of a world where humans are engineered to fit a specific purpose and the engineering doesn't end after birth. The characters have come to accept this life, even the scheduling of their free time and the people they have relationships with, as normal. Our main character shifts halfway through the book to a man born on a reservation who is known as the savage. Then he comes into conflict with the New World.

    That's the plot, but here's the juice: it's boring. The characters never challenge the world, they rarely come into conflict with its boundaries, and frankly, they're boring. They don't grow or want to grow in any significant way. The conflict only happens when the savage comes to the city, and even then it's too little and way too late. Not only that, but Michael York is an okay narrator - but his American accent is atrocious.

    This stock is a definite Don't Buy.

    7 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 10-30-13
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 10-30-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great performance of this classic story"

    It had been a long time since I had originally read "Brave New World", and - as this title came up as a daily deal - I thought I'd take the opportunity to enjoy it once again.

    The story is still nearly as fresh and provocative as it was the first time I read it, albeit a bit tempered by the long years of reading and thinking about hosts of other utopian/dystopian societies.

    Still, if you're not familiar with this story of an engineered and conditioned society, it offers an interesting perspective on what it means to live a life worth living; and if it's been so long that it is only a faint memory, the theme and delivery still hold up and provide plenty of food for thought (and a fair share of pure entertainment, for that matter).

    There are very few mis-steps in the way of anachronistic "future" developments that might slightly distract you from the story, but overall the tale does not feel out-of-date and hold together quite well.

    The narration and production is superb, I can only complement the efforts of BBC Audio - the clarity of recording and the voice work come together for an excellent listening experience.

    If you are interested in utopian/dystopian speculative fiction, stories that examine what it means to be human and how we might accidentally subvert that, or just interesting "non-hard" SF, I would recommend giving this title a listen.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 10-24-13
    John 10-24-13

    St. Louis, Missouri

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    "Hats Off to Aldous Huxley, Michael York & Audible"

    Huxley for writing the book, York for reading it and Audible for making books like this available in their Daily Deals. I would never have bought it had it not been on sale—and I would have missed an amazing work of literature as well as a fine audio performance.

    Like many people, Brave New World was always one of those books I meant to read. Whenever a new tech marvel hit the scene or a new question of medical ethics made headlines, a news writer somewhere was sure to make an allusion to the title of Aldous Huxley’s masterpiece. But that’s as far as my understanding of the book went: a nebulous sense that it presented a less-than-savory picture of some indefinite, but very possible, future.

    But as Mustapha Mond, the World Controller for Western Europe might say, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    In the interest of full disclosure, you need to know I was born and bred in Detroit. Hence, a good deal of my enjoyment of the book stems from the author’s complete agreement with my own estimate of Henry Ford. Yes, he made America mobile. Yes, that mobility was affordable. But delve into some of the man’s writings, sayings and methods and you understand what Huxley is driving at.

    One day Ford was walking through his factory when he noticed a pile of short wooden boards. Upon inquiring about them, he learned they were broken up packing cases that had contained auto parts; they were about to be thrown away. In a flash of ingenuity, he ordered the wood to be used as floorboards for his Model T’s.

    It’s a story that appeals to all our recycling instincts (that’s the way we’ve been conditioned, right?) But dig a little deeper. Behind Ford’s idea there lurks a sort of maniacal drive for complete and utter efficiency.

    It goes hand in hand with Ford housing his workers in barracks. Yes, they were clean, bright places to live. But they were also places where the workers could be supervised. Drinking was frowned upon for obvious reasons. Dancing was encouraged because Ford had some odd theory about its moral benefits. Random inspections were a normal feature of life.

    Then there’s the famous $5 a day wage. Accepted now as a humanitarian measure—so much more, we are told, than what other industrialists were offering the downtrodden proletariat. In actuality, the downtrodden proletariat only got $2.50 an hour—the other $2.50 was held back, to be paid at a later date if the workers’ behavior met Mr. Ford’s exacting standards.

    If none of this is giving you the chills, then you may not want to bother with Brave New World.

    There’s a photograph of Ford relaxing (if that was possible for him) in his home in Dearborn—incidentally, an architectural monstrosity of conflicting styles. In the background a piece of needlework proclaims: “He who chops his own firewood warms himself twice”. Ok, that’s true as far as it goes. But again there’s that maniacal drive for efficiency, an almost Uber-Puritanical focus on work—a focus that excludes all other considerations.

    Ford crystalized that focus with the infamous remark, “History is bunk”. The blowback from those words was so widespread he tried to atone by building Greenfield Village, the open-air museum that is as much a monument to himself and his friend Thomas Edison as homage to the past. Nevertheless, the unguarded remark reveals his true thinking.

    In Brave New World, Huxley takes that thinking and follows it out to its extreme, “logical” conclusion. I understand that there’s more underpinning the book than just the wit and wisdom of Henry Ford. For example, I sense a critique of our Declaration of Independence (why did Jefferson include “happiness” among our inalienable rights, rather than keep to the classic Whig triumvirate of life, liberty and property?) It’s a piece of our foundational rhetoric that, taken to its “logical” extreme, can be just as culturally destructive as Ford’s hatred of the past.

    So much for the roots of the book. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about how much of what Huxley imagined has actually come to pass.

    On top of a masterpiece you also get Michael York’s performance, which is simply extraordinary. And again, big kudos to Audible for making literature like this available at sacrifice prices—and here’s hoping they’ll do it again soon. Many of the blockbusting best sellers that usually make the Daily Deal are, as the Savage would point out if he were here, a far cry from Othello.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ESK Moscow, Russia 07-22-12
    ESK Moscow, Russia 07-22-12 Member Since 2011

    There are books of the same chemical composition as dynamite. The only difference is that a piece of dynamite explodes once, whereas a book explodes a thousand times. ― Yevgeny Zamyatin

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    "Fantastic job!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Brave New World to be better than the print version?

    What a blasphemous question to ask!


    What did you like best about this story?

    It looks real. That's human nature never to learn from your mistakes.


    What does Michael York bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator did a brilliant job of bringing the characters to life. He had no problem with the female character as well.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I loved every minute of it. And to Michael York's credit, the experience will stick in my memory.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pita North Shore City, New Zealand 12-14-11
    Pita North Shore City, New Zealand 12-14-11
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    "Fascinating and unique classic novel, well read"

    Brave New World is Huxley's best known novel and a classic for good reason. This is a unique novel and a gripping expose on human nature. With overtones of Orwell's Big Brother this novel is set in a Utopia where the focus is on happiness, and where freedom and truth are removed from society. Huxley explores what happens when there is a clash with tradition ideals of moral obligation, religion, family, truth and free will.

    This is a novel that is well ahead of its time and the description of the world is very clever and the language and turn of phrase employed is wonderful.

    Micheal York really brings this to life with a masterful performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    RichInRI 03-22-10
    RichInRI 03-22-10 Member Since 2014
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    "i did not enjoy this presentation at all"

    as a matter of fact, i couldn't even finish the book. having read the book in my youth, i was looking forward to experiencing it again, but the manner in which the book was read grated on me. as much as i tried to look past the annoying presentation, i found myself becoming more and more annoyed. to say he least, it was an utter disappointment.

    30 of 45 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Salimata Arlington, VA, USA 12-31-08
    Salimata Arlington, VA, USA 12-31-08
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    "Reading can kill writing"

    This CD could put you right off this fundamental book.
    Personalized accents, hysterical shoutings, whinings, singings, supposedly used to bring life, don't bring anything, just make the book unbearable after a few minutes.
    Advice : (1) if you want to avoid irritation and reach the end, you should plan short listening sequences ; (2) never buy an audiobook without prior listening and comparing.

    31 of 48 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura Dallas, Texas, United States 06-22-13
    Laura Dallas, Texas, United States 06-22-13 Member Since 2014
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    "It's a classic for a reason!!"
    Would you listen to Brave New World again? Why?

    Yes because I feel it serves such a strong warning against allowing the government to rule and regulate that which is inherently flawed and as a result, beautiful and perfectly created. When the government oversteps nature, a chain reaction ensues.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Brave New World?

    The detail the author provides leaves the reader which powerful imagery and leaves very little to the imagination in the sense the reader does not have to supplement with what might be false or misguided images. For example, when describing the hatchery, the author is certain to mention in detail the process and in essence sets up a great foundation for the reader to better understand the actions of those that stemmed from the hatchery.


    Have you listened to any of Michael York’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not but I had always "heard" this book in American English and it was brilliant to hear it in its native tongue if you will as the story is centered in London.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The narrator was very vivacious, animated and energetic. Some of the most touching moments included the dynamic of John and "Linder" or Linda.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this to everyone. This book is a good "starting point" for those getting into current affairs. This is a true foreshadow of events that have occurred that the author hit on years prior but a closer look reveals that "Big Brother" and conditioning are amongst us. To have free thought is to be a strong reader and this supports such. Happy reading!

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
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  • Nick
    kings lynn, norfolk, United Kingdom
    4/23/08
    Overall
    "Better than a gram of soma...."

    Superb. An absolute classic! This thought provoking tale of social engineering is made even more accessible by the masterly narration of Micheal York. Sheer auditory pleasure!

    10 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Peter
    Beulah, United Kingdom
    3/11/09
    Overall
    "Excellent"

    Bleak and excellent. An interesting thought experiment. As opposed to Orwell's "1984", in which a totalitarian government rules by fear and brutality, the Brave New World leaders remain in power by enslaving their population to unbounded, self-indulgent pleasures. All humanity is lost when grief, pain and suffering are eradicated, and the book cleverly introduces a 'savage' from an 'old world' reserve who understands the loss that the new world has undergone. Despite it's cautionary tone (that seems to be more relevant in this day and age than when it was written) I couldn't help feeling I could do with just a little bit of unbounded, self-indulgent pleasure. Huxley would turn in his grave!! Clear sound and excellently narrated.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  • JMWILLIAMS
    NR. HALESWORTH,, United Kingdom
    8/4/09
    Overall
    "Sublime"

    I have never posted a review before, as I have never felt strongly enough, in either direction, to want to make a public comment on something - until now. It is more years than I care to remember since I last read Brave New World, and what a delight to listen to Michael York as the narrator. For anyone who thinks that they 'ought to' read this book, then this is the perfect way to do it; and anyone who wants to revisit this timeless classic, then you are in for a sublime 8 hours. If only all audio books were of this standard.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • M
    Wakefield, United Kingdom
    10/15/12
    Overall
    "Parody not prophecy."

    This novel has to be read with the writer's historical context kept firmly in mind to appreciate its absolute genius. It's a parody - and a very funny one - of all the utopias being prescribed and promised by the political theories that are sweeping the world in that very strange period that was the 1930s. Capitalism was being battered - due to the Great Depression - and Socialism, Communism and Fascism were vying for dominance of people's hearts and minds; each declaring they had the keys to human happiness. And, alongside this, the science of eugenics seemed to be justifying the European dominance of its empires as well as the right of the upper-classes to rule the lower. So throw into this already very heady mix the hedonism of the Roaring Twenties, and the still very fresh memories of the Great War, and Alduous Huxley is writing in an extremely volatile time. So what does he do? He takes the piss out of everybody.

    We follow the petty proto-revolutionary bureaucrat Bernard Marx (what a great name: George Bernard Shaw/Karl Marx) in his pathetic and ultimately futile quest for respect and importance in the genetically 'stable' utopia that has been manufactured. It's a very uncomfortable read at times - the erotic play of the toddlers comes to mind - and brutal too - the death clinics, and the descriptions of the Savages' reservations - but Huxley's point is to show that no matter what the grand Social Theories promise, they won't be able to take into account each individual's little weaknesses and lusts and ambitions; humans can't be put into little boxes and expected to be happy. The Shakespeare quoting savage John isn't happy in the reservation nor in the Brave New World; the stunted Bernard won't ever find acceptance from his peers, and Lenina ("Wonderful girl; splendidly pneumatic.") will never be able to understand her taste for something 'different'. Huxley isn't being prophetic, he's being parodic in Brave New World and he's having a lot of fun too. 5 stars

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • George
    Harrogate, United Kingdom
    8/6/11
    Overall
    "Marred by narration"

    Great book, no doubting that, but I'm half way through and had to break to come on here and say I can't STAND Michael York's narration. Really after 20 audiobooks or more from Audible this is the first time it's happened, and it's particularly surprising given he's such a well known actor, but absolutely every moment of his performance is over-egged. It's Jackonory story-telling, subtle as a brick and prone to spasms of indulgent and frankly frightening wailing and crying. And the accents, entirely his contribution from what I gather, are atrocious. I'm probably in the minority given other reviews here, but give the sample a go and try before you buy, that's my advice!

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  • Sean
    southampton, hampshire, United Kingdom
    7/6/10
    Overall
    "Interesing characters and ideas of the future."

    Michael York makes listening to this book very easy.

    The story portays a world where human engineering has advanced so far that children are grown in test tubes rather than born naturally. Distinct classes of people are manufactured in the test tube. Love and partnerships no longer exist as everyone belongs to everyone else. Subliminal teachings repeat the mantras of the new world order, ensuring stability and conformity. Drugs are freely available to wash away any hardship or stress. Gone are the writings of Shakespeare and all references to God.

    But there are a few that are not content with the way of the world and look for answers to their feelings of emptiness.

    The story follows these characters through their journey of self realisation and weakness, exploring the state's reaction to their outspoken views.

    I really enjoyed the story and considering its age was impressed by the forward thinking.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Kirstine
    Bonnyrigg, United Kingdom
    7/11/08
    Overall
    "A classic, but period piece"

    I read this book many, many years ago when it still had resonance for many fearing the emergence of regimented, totalitarian, mainly communist, states. Being set in the distant future it contains all sorts of predictions about technology and how societies function. It's funny to read it again and to see how things have turned out and how technology like mobile phones and computers simply weren't envisaged in the 1930s. Although it's force has in many ways been superceded by events, it's still a classic and fascinating read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Bertil
    Göteborg, Sweden
    3/26/13
    Overall
    "Great book, some volume issues"

    First of all, this is a great book which I recommend. I do think there is a problem with the sound volume however, in that the volume difference between the most quiet and the loudest parts is too big. I listen a lot while commuting and I had to frequently lower the volume at the loud parts, and increase the volume at the most quiet parts to save my ears / be able to hear. I think it would have been clever if the publishers edited or mixed the sound to prevent that.



    I don't think that should stop you from listening to this book still. Because it's great.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Penny
    BlackpoolUnited Kingdom
    7/19/10
    Overall
    "Memories"

    I first read this book 25 years ago at school. Time (or my age) has made this book even better! Well read by Michael York. If you like George Orwell's 1984, you'll love this.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Sharon
    3/14/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great book."

    Brilliant! This is not the sort of thing I normally read, but thoroughly enjoyed it. The narration is great, each character is very distinctive making the story very easy to follow.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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