The Iron Heel Paperback – 7 Apr 2014
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About the Author
John Griffith London (born John Griffith Chaney) was an American author, journalist, and social activist who lived from 1876 to 1916. His works, all fiction, were always founded in some fact or idea which he then conveyed, making his books full of double meaning and offering deeper understanding for those able to see it. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
For 'The Iron Heel' is a fine socialist text but it is not just this. Certainly the book influenced George Orwell and a stream of thought that would eventually become 1984. A dystopian novel, a love story, a tale of courage and prescience and sacrifice and failure. The life and work of Ernest Everhard as recounted by his wife, Avis, but presented as history, her words scarred with asterisks that lead to footnotes added seven centuries in the future, in B.O.M. (Brotherhood of Man) time. The historian, Anthony Meredith, adds insight regarding the times in which Ernest and Avis lived but also explains the myriad of generations of change that separate him from them. It is a compelling format that gives the work dimension, adding to the tragedy of Ernest and Avis, that is also that of the masses.
The Iron Heel is a mighty boot that walks on the faces of the workers. It is the power of a small majority, the Oligarchy. It is a representation of the wealth of the few (the 1%?) while, by design, the masses are made to suffer in squalor. The middle classes are destroyed and vast corporations have their fingers in a sumptuous array of pies. Like many dystopian novels, it isn't far removed from the truth. Fascism or societal control or capitalism or whatever you want to call it is identified as something at first discreet, the thing that is spoken of in conspiracy theories and generally disbelieved. Then it is the all-pervading system that loops Man in chains.
An absolutely appalling waste of anyone's money.
"The Iron Heel" was written in 1908 and remains one of the more prophetic novels of the 20th century. His track record with regards to a national secrety police agency, the rise of Fascism, the creation of attractive suburbs for the middle class while the unemployed and menials live in "ghettoes," is remarkedly better than that of Edward Belleamy's "Looking Backward," Aldoux Huxley's "Brave New World," or George Orwell's "1984," the novels that are usually judged by their prescience in terms of utopian literature.
The novel presents the story of the American revolutionary Earnest Everhard, as told by his wife Avis, who is actually the more effective revolutionary leader.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Buy the Lawrence Hill version, which is complete and has a good contemporary critical introduction.
"The Iron Heel" was written in 1908 and remains one of the more prophetic novels of the 20th century. His track record with regards to a national secret police agency, the rise of Fascism, the creation of attractive suburbs for the middle class while the unemployed and menials live in "ghettoes," is markedly better than that of Edward Belleamy's "Looking Backward," Aldoux Huxley's "Brave New World," or George Orwell's "1984," the novels that are usually lauded and judged by their prescience in terms of utopian literature.
The novel presents the story of the American revolutionary Earnest Everhard, as told by his wife Avis, who is actually the more effective revolutionary leader. London tells how the manuscript was unknown for seven centuries, to be discovered long after the final triumph of socialist democracy in the yar 419 B.O.M. Avis Everhard describes the struggles of the working masses against the oligarchy, and how they were ruthlessly suppressed, especially in the Chicago Commune that is the main setting for the action. There is a strong current of violence, with Black Hundreds wrecking the socialist presses,a bomb exploding in the House of Representatives, and revolutionaries being hunted down by the military arm of the government known as the Iron Heel. The Everhard Manuscript breaks off in the middle of a sentence, a footnote explaining that history does not know if the author escaped or was captured.
The story is somewhat atypical for London in that it does not represent the white supremacist and male dominant vision of the world we usually find in his novels. London's message is the blatant warning that if you allow the Revolution to be defeated, then the ruling class will "grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces." Ultimately "The Iron Heel" is a novel whose importance clearly outstrips its literary quality. The problem is that with the end of World War II and the defeat (essentially) of Fascism that London's novel was no longer of interest as the world was confronted with a new set of problems. Yet, London's dytopian novel is one of the works in that genre that deserves to be reconsidered more often.
In pure Marxist style, a tiny Plutocracy (seven powerful groups) has taken hold of all powers in the US. It has at its beck and call the police, the army, the courts, the schools and private militias. The press became `suppressage'. Its policy is to print nothing that is a vital menace to the established and to mould public opinion.
The Church is also their mouthpiece: `the command to the Church was `Feed my lambs', but out of the dividends magnificent churches are built where your kind preaches pleasant platitudes to the sleek, full-bellied recipients of those dividends.' When one of its ministers speaks out for the poor, he is put in an asylum for being `insane'.
In order to keep control of the proletarians, the Plutocrats force a split in the unions between the strong unions in the monopoly corporations and the rest of weakly organized labor.
Another means of control is terrorism and `agents provocateurs' whose bloody attacks are foisted on the shoulders of their enemies.
The only opposition to the rule of the oligarchs consists of the `Brotherhood of Man', a socialist semi-clandestine organization.
A Marxian capitalistic endgame explodes with a bloody war between the few and the many ...
This forceful revolutionary book is brushed in an idealistic tone, with rather naïve black and white (the good and the bad) colors.
Unfortunately, it is partly still very topical. The struggle between right and left in the US became the global struggle between North and South. Terrorism, control of the media, the influence of education and religion, control of the courts are still red hot topics today.
This book is a real find. Not to be missed.