Allies, Lovers and Gods by John Humphrys review

I’m looking at a list of all the cells in my omicron and suddenly a science lesson in the age of PDSA is being fiddled with, with a six-letter asterisk somewhere in the midst. Then another. It’s a bit startling. Are these pincers? Or gnarls? Or something completely unrelated?

There are snippets of information about the science of genetics, but the bulk of this book is a narcissistic self-examinations. In a way, it’s also a bible of sorts. Something grows in the soil of self-love but it gets infected by worms. No matter how charming the illustrations or how appealing the writing, this is the sort of thing that strains belief, but I’d still rather read about biology than self-defence advice.

And when I say that this is a book that strains belief, I mean that it goes to some dark places and when that happens, we all see through the words like spray paint.

I count myself lucky that before that book arrived in my messenger bag, it had stayed locked under the bed. Back then, if someone took a stab at lifting a leg, the whole cardboard pyramid turned inside out.

• Allies, Lovers and Gods by John Humphrys is published by Transworld. To order a copy for £9.74 (RRP £12.99) go to or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

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