This slim book, written shortly before the author's death, continues many of the themes of his earlier, widely read Nations and Nationalism (1983). In a nutshell, Gellner argues that nationalism does not represent some timeless, atavistic force, but rather is a man-made creation that tends to arise as a consequence of industrialization. Phenomena like Islamic fundamentalism can be seen as a similar "disease of the transition." Earlier forager or agricultural societies are too small, segmented, or stratified to support genuine nationalism; only with industrialization and its high degree of occupational mobility does a system that links large numbers of non-kin on the basis of a high culture become feasible. The overall thesis is correct and worth pondering, although it has a hard time accommodating certain cases of nationalism arising in agricultural societies (for example, nineteenth-century Serbia). Gellner's sense of humor is evident here as in earlier books, as for example in a chapter entitled "Do Nations have Navels," which explores the question of why nationalists believe their creed is age-old when it is actually of recent provenance. The book concludes with some sound, though rather general, thoughts on how to deal with nationalist passions in Eastern Europe.