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People of the Abyss, The Paperback – 1 Nov 2014
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'No other book of mine took so much of my young heart and tears as that study of the economic degradation of the poor.' Jack London; 'At a time of heightened concern about the poor and homeless on the streets of London, the re-appearance of The People of the Abyss is to be welcomed. It is a complex text combining awkwardly a passionate critique of modern civilisation with a rhetoric of racial degeneration, but it is one that resonates disturbingly with much contemporary comment on the problem.' John Marriott, University of East London 'It is written with the smoldering anger of turn-of-the-century revolutionary socialism. There are no gray shadings in London's economic world. There is only the evil of capitalism and the saintly suffering of the poor. The rich had had their stories told in mass periodicals, and London felt it was time to let the ignored speak. He thus wrote the biographies of the people who have been exploited by imperialism and capitalism. This is the book that counters the Horatio Alger story. For every Alger, for every Rockefeller, there is a mass of sufferers whose plight enabled the speedy rise to wealth of a few. In its sociological and journalistic documentation of poverty is a call for direct action. Wealth blinds, and London makes us see. With this reprinting of London's incredibly important and readable book, Pluto Press and London remind us of how economic exploitation must always be fought, that we must always be educated in the lives of the unfortunate.' James Williams, editor and publisher of the Jack London Journal 'During my youth I walked the streets of East London, following in the footsteps of Jack London. He brought back, so movingly to this young reader, the poverty and suffering as well as the laughter and tears manifest in the outcasts and dispossessed of our locale at that time. Together with the revelations of Charles Booth, G.R. Sims et al, that book helped shatter the smug composure of Edwardian England, as well as providing a transatlantic best seller.' Professor William J. Fishman, Queen Mary and Westfield College 'In 1902, Jack London, posing as an out-of-work sailor, went underground into the belly of the beast: the slums of London's East End. With passion and vision, he used his skill as a journalist to expose the horrors of the Abyss to the world. Because of his ability to blend in with working people and put them at their ease, because he donned their clothing, and spent nights on the street--working odd jobs, sleeping in the homeless shelters he gained an insight into the slum life which remains unique. By interweaving the personal stories of the people he encountered with political analysis, he produced a vibrant work of nonfiction, which remains relevant to this day. Consider the following: about one in five children in the U.S. live in poverty. Poverty is war, and it rages on with no end in sight, and the management is still guilty of mismanaging the wealth. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the People of the Abyss are among us today.' --Tarnel Abbott, Great-granddaughter of Jack London, Contributing Editor, Jack London International (www.jack.london.org)
"Disguised as a stranded sailor, American journalist Jack London took to the streets of Whitechapel to document the struggles of London's destitute, in what is believed to be the earliest contemporary account of life on the city's streets. He wrote The People of the Abyss (1903) based on his first-hand account of living in the East End." - The Daily Mail
"In its sometimes powerfully precise, sometimes orotund way, The People of the Abyss tells of a doomed world...it is good to see the photographs restored to their rightful places, interspersed throughout this lovingly produced new edition from Tangerine Press and the L-13 Light Industrial Workshop." - --Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Jack London (1876 1916) was an American author, journalist, and social activist. He was a pioneer in the then-burgeoning world of commercial magazine fiction and was one of the first fiction writers to obtain worldwide celebrity and a large fortune from his fiction alone. He is best remembered as the author of White Fang and Call of the Wild, set in the Klondike Gold Rush, as well as the short stories "To Build a Fire", "An Odyssey of the North", and "Love of Life". He also wrote of the South Pacific in such stories as "The Pearls of Parlay" and "The Heathen", and The Sea Wolf, of the San Francisco Bay area. London was a passionate advocate of unionization, socialism, and the rights of workers and wrote several powerful works dealing with these topics such as his dystopian novel, The Iron Heel and his non-fiction exposé, The People of the Abyss.
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I've only read Call of the Wild but I'll be seeking out more Jack London books. A wonderful writer and a thoughtful compassionate man who was far ahead of his time.
It certainly puts to bed the current bulldung being flung about about so called "White privilege"
If you have a vivid imagination and enjoy social history on London get your nose into this book and take yourself back there and then thank your lucky stars you were born in this day and age,if this topic is of interest to you then it is well worth a read,a nice easy read.
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