I took this with me on holiday recently. I cannot conscientiously say that it's the ideal book for the beach, but it was certainly thought provoking. The introduction raised some interesting questions, pointing out that the book is admired by nationalists and racial supremacists as well as by those on the left. And it was the novel's rather problematic ideology which I found the most interesting aspect of `The Iron Heel'.
In some ways its concern with the lot of poor workers was of course fully sympathetic, chiming with similar discussions in, for example, Upton Sinclair's `The Jungle'. The measures taken to prevent dissent by the `oligarchy' also aroused sympathy - their persecution of characters such as the narrator's father, a man of great integrity, reminds one of similar actions carried out by Communist and Fascist regimes later in the twentieth century.
But the novel seems to promote a ruthless and inhumane approach to putting the world in order which became increasingly uncongenial - the narrator's attitude towards the underclass, in particular, seemed cold and manipulative rather than humanitarian. And although the Oligarchy, within the fiction of the novel, is sinister enough, I can see that its depiction might play well with those on the right who have a paranoid fear of government, resent the apparent hegemony of urban, middle class, professional types with liberal views, and assume that hidden conspiracies are at work everywhere. Yet it's an intriguing book which resonates with all sorts of historical events and movements, including some in our own day.