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on 3 July 2015
This book caused such a sensation when it was first published at the turn of the 20th century, that it actually sparked legislation from the White House. In short, immigrants arriving from the US are optimistic about the land of opportunity, only to discover that it's full of corruption, degradation, and heartache. Once they start down a certain road, there seems to be very little escape from it -- either death, degradation, or corruption, it seems. The only reason not five stars is because a) Jurgis, the main character, does occasionally bring his bad fortune upon himself, and b) the last chapter or so is a polemic about the promise of Communism as a fix-all. Very interesting about the latter from this side of history, and perhaps helps us understand why extreme socialism would seem an ideal solution to people in that position, but the book just stops with a kind of Communist manifesto and no real resolution.
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on 2 June 2018
I know the phrase is rather overused, but this is a page-turner. Rather hard to read at times, not because of the style, but because of the hardship and unfairness that fall on the family. Certain parts remind me of Angela's Ashes and Grapes of Wrath ( no bad thing). Really surprised that I had never heard of this author before, and I consider myself well-read. This is one of those books that will stay with you. Try it.
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on 3 August 2015
Vivid and eye-opening novel concerning the exploitation and grinding poverty of workers in the Chicago meat-packing factories of the 1920s.

The book is centred around Jurgis, a jejune Lithuanian immigrant and his travails through this dreadful industry. Even if Sinclair's detailed descriptions of the trade and practises are only half true, it's impossible not to feel indignation and outrage.

The prose is superb, and anyone who hasn't yet discovered this novelist will be richly rewarded.
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on 13 December 2016
It is a must read. I bought this novel as a gift. I read it 10 yrs ago for my American Lit. Course and I have to say it left a mark in my subconscious. One will never see society the same. Worth buying and reading.
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on 18 January 2017
A very sad, bitter book. Very poignant and still relevant today. I can't believe so much tragedy happened and we were never taught about it. Studying this for my English degree, and was very moved by this book.
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on 17 November 2015
Completely absorbing story of the struggles of eastern European family who migrated to America at the turn of the century. This will break your heart at times and can be distressing for some. The unabridged version can be rather drawn out but it still remains one of the most moving books I have ever read...and I first read this in 1950!
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on 16 November 2016
The star rating is misleading, I found the book harrowing, infuriating and deeply moving. A classic of its time, for any time, and, sadly, for our time , as social injustice continues to be all too prevalent even in today's society. Highly recommend, however.
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on 18 May 2014
An incredible account of the appalling conditions suffered by thousands of migrant workers in the Chicago meat processing industry in 1900s Chicago, at times horrific, hilarious, tearjearking and amazingly prescient - many of the conditions could be transplanted to current day garment manufacturing in 3rd world countries.
Makes you seriously think about early socialist ideas and why they still have relevance a hundred years later. Might also make you want to become a vegetarian!
There is ongoing controversy about whether the details are historically accurate: they certainly seem completely believable.
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on 17 September 2015
Harrowing, but captivating. A brilliantly written and deeply evocative account of urban poverty and desperation. As relevant now as it ever was.
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on 9 July 2014
Harrowing, pure and simple, and a good writer can have such a good effect. The realism of the narrative convinces us of the plight of immigrants, and underwrites hopelessness. Ruined somewhat by the socialist tract at the end, but Sinclair believed in what he wrote. However, solutions to a somewhat eternal poverty, namely, a solution in socialism, seem naive considering history.
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