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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Jungle
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2013
This is the first review I have written from the thousands of books I've read over my life. It delved into every emotion within my person. The Meat Packing industry in Chicago was the hope of a new life for all the ignorant European poor people shipped in. They had no experience nor knowledge of large businesses, politics and couldn't speak English. A good way to keep them ignorant. These people were morally pure compared to those who would exploit them in order to regain control of the money these extremely poor people earned and ultimately paid back with their lives.
I don't want to tell too much of this classic and real story but it is all too obvious that it is not too far away from the way we see multinational companies, Banks and Politicians conducting their business today. It leaves me thinking, so often, how can people who are supposed to be human beings treat other human beings in this way in order to make so much money and gain power for themselves, shareholders and puppet politicians.
Several times I put the book down and tried to read another book since it tore my emotions apart. However, I couldn't leave this book since I had to learn more. I strongly recommend that anybody who has a conscience and cares for others should read this piece of classic writing and then have a look at what is happening throughout our beautiful planet today and ask themselves - Who Are These People Who Can Do This To Others????
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' is the classic exposure of labour conditions in Chicago's meat packing industry at the beginning of the last century. But it is also an American version of 'Everyman', tracing the fortunes of Jurgis, a Lithuanian immigrant who has arrived with high expectations of a better life in 'the land of the free'. Disillusionment follows, as he and his family fall into the many traps that lie in his path. His trajectory from fit optimistic worker to a worn out bum that no one wants to employ is reflected in the disintegration of his young family as result of poverty and disease, helped by his own descent into a life of crime and degradation. His ultimate salvation comes via his conversion to socialism at a mass meeting, with the enticing vision of a major worker victory against capitalism within the next ten years.

Much of this novel makes grim, and at time distasteful reading. Misfortune is piled on misfortune; things always go wrong when life seems to be at last improving for Jurgis and his family. This reflects the basic weakness of 'The Jungle' as a novel: Sinclair too often treats his main characters as symbols in a morality tale. There is rather too much of the polemic, an impression reinforced by the disquisition on socialism (in its various forms) that is set out in the final section of the book. Events turned out differently in the US, of course, and the main impact of 'The Jungle' in practical terms came from its authentic and quite graphic details of the adulteration of meat by packers - including the use of diseased meat - revelations that inspired the first food and drug act of 1906.

High praise for this (very inexpensive) kindle version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An expose of the horrific conditions that existed in Chicago's meat-packing industry at the turn of the century. The true awfulness of slaughtering animals in industrial quantities on the 'killing beds' (I am resolved to remain a vegetarian for the rest of my life!); the adulterated meat which unscrupulous company owners fix up and sell on; the dreaded fertilizer works ('few visitors ever saw them, and the few who did would come out looking like Dante, of whom the peasants declared that he had been in hell'); the pitiful conditions in which early immigrant communities lived; and the sheer criminality of life, where everyone is in someone else's pocket, and the police are in the pay of local businesses. The reader soon observes that just as "they use everything about the hog except the squeal", so too the industrialists get all they can out of their workers before they cast them off as worn out.

The reader follows a family of newly arrived Lithuanian immigrants, headed by Jurgis and his bride Ona. Jurgis sets out determined to succeed: 'Leave it to me. I will earn more money - I will work harder'. Whether they ever make it or go under forms the main part of the book.
I found this a gripping read - Sinclair really brings this world to life. It goes a bit off the boil at the end when Jurgis becomes an ardent Socialist, and in the guise of his attending a lecture or two, Sinclair introduces lengthy harangues on the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2014
This was a vital life-changing pillar of my youth. Do we learn from the history of the meat-packing industry in Chicago? Sadly not, if the murderously dangerous conditions of the Indian sub-continent labouring to produce buy-and-chuck clothing for us is anything to go by. There seems to be an endless stream of proto-Sinclairs today with the ability to squirrel out such extortion of labour, yet what do they achieve? Poverty and need always seems to provide an endless conveyor belt of those for whom a pittance and squalid living conditions are better than rural nothing. Lewis would despair. Oh yes, and to the best of my knowledge, Armor Star is still a best-selling brand of canned meat in the US. I can't speak for their working conditions.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 December 2013
This book was a sensation at the time it was published, exposing, as it did, the appalling conditions in the Chicago meat packing industry. It lead to major changes in practices and conditions. However, it is a relentlessly depressing read and in the end I gave up as I ceased to enjoy reading it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2013
Unrelenting misery but totally fascinating even more so as capitalism and exploitation continues unconfined. Things may look better in 2013 but in reality we are still workhorses chained to the capitalist machine. Worth every star.
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on 21 August 2014
Written a few years before Tressel's famous book, this takes one through the hell of life for working men and women in the stockyards of early 20th century Chicago.
It may be hard to believe, but conditions there seem to have been even worse than for the poor painters and decorators in Muggsborough.
Sad to relate that I had never heard of this book until a few weeks ago. I will now research further into the author's other works.
Highly recommended.
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on 18 February 2014
I have had this book for a while now and I am struggling to get through it... Im finding it hard to read.. the way it is written is hard and also the content is quite depressing... I want to get through it to understand what it was like "in those days" but I think it will take a while.. A classic in its time but not sure how it appeals to the modern mind...
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on 24 August 2014
A harrowing story, but one with many reminders that we haven't progressed as far as we thought, considering that many many Eastern European workers are still toiling in our appalling meat packing and processing plants at this very moment.
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This is no easy read and, at times, the despair of the characters is almost too much to bear. However the eternal optimism of the main character carries you through to the - almost - happy ending. Overall an amazing book.
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