I had previously only read Call of the Wild by Jack London which I thoroughly enjoyed. Clearly this man is an excellent writer, the words are clear and concise, the grammer is excellent.
Which brings me on to the theme which is shocking. If you have read Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London it is tame compared with this. Mr London, an American of some means, purposely sets out to explore the misery of the East End of London. This book chronicles all he saw and misery it was. Terrible living conditions, hunger, life on the streets, a family of seven or more living in a single room where they slept, washed, ate, abluted. More than 90% of the entire population of London died early and in poverty at a time when the British Empire was at its height.
The book ends with what is basically a call to Socialism and, although Socialism is an anathema to me, had I seen what Mr London writes about, I would become a Socialist.
Britain today is a thriving country and its Empire is no more. It took a foreigner at the turn of the 19th C to diagnose its ills, weaknesses, horrors of treatment of fellow human beings and, ultimately, to predict the downfall of the World's greatest nation because of its neglect and indifference to the suffering of its ordinary people.
As bizarre as it may seem, in the light of having read this book, I would say that WW1 did the ordinary Briton a service in that it brought more equality to peoples' lives. Reading the newspapers today on how the top 5% of earners are taking a disproportionate share of the country's wealth did not shock me until I read this book. Now it does.