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on 16 February 2017
A book which is as relevant today as it was when it was written. Tressell addresses the inequalities between the working and the ruling classes. The book has been written in such a way that the reader can empathise from Frank Owen's perspective, the way his co-workers are taken advantage of without them even realising and the methods employed by their bosses to gain maximum effort for minimal gain. Even the surnames of the characters gives you a glimpse of their personalities which come to fruition when you begin reading. Overall an outstanding piece of work and the book which other socialist and left leaning publications are judged against.
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on 28 September 2016
The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists is a novel by Robert Tressell first published in 1914 after his death in 1911. An explicitly political work, it is widely regarded as a classic of working-class literature, The book conveys without sensationalism the detail of manual work and the tiny things almost unimaginable to any comfortably situated person which make life a misery when one's income drops below a certain level.It's a book that everyone should read, it's a piece of social history that left one feeling a considerable novelist was lost in this young working-man, whom society could not bother to keep alive!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 January 2014
This entire, brilliantly written book is a polemic against the exploitation of the working classes by capitalist employers, with the collusion of the established church. Given the period in which it was written, one can understand the depth of rage and frustration which he expresses. The book's realism is such that it is painful to read and certainly no cheering piece of escapism. Indeed, it is an education into the lot of working people in the early part of the twentieth century. No right-minded person could fail to share Tressell's anger against such unjust and cruel suffering and it is very understandable that reading it has changed the political allegiance of some.
As a piece of social history and as a literary masterpiece, this is a powerful book. It raises uncomfortable issues about the suffering of poor people in the emerging economies, too. Karl Marx thought that the answer was violent revolution, but the real answer seems to have been social care, education and opportunity, leading to the growth of the middle classes and the creation of increased wealth. We have millionaires today whose ancestry lies in the oppressed working classes. The counter-argument against socialism made by capitalists is that there has to be the opportunity to create wealth for oneself through invention and entrepreneurial activity, so that there is enough wealth in our nation to be shared with working people. Socialism does not have a great record in this respect and has sometimes turned out to be pretty oppressive and stultifying. Overthrowing established and often hypocritical religious structures had unexpected consequences, too, since Stalin's and Hitler's mass murders were easier to justify when it was no longer generally believed that all men are made in the image of God. In fact, it has proved impossible to eradicate religious belief. instead, it has sometimes been a symbol of resistance against an unjust regime, whether right or left-wing.
I have no political axe to grind; I'm merely pointing out, in answer to some other reviews, that books are written at a particular point in history. The answers that seemed right at that time may be shown by later history to have been flawed. How we respond to the book is a personal issue, though a concern for justice and the desire to help the poor and give people a real chance in life must surely be the response of every right-minded person. Certainly, this is a book that demands a response.
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on 21 April 2014
I am not going to repeat the reviews others have written.
This book was written about 100 years ago when the working class were treated so appallingly by unscrupulous employers,etc.
But having read it, there is not much difference to what the working class people of the UK are going through in 2014.
I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in social history, this book could have been written yesterday.
The comparisons between life in Edwardian times and what is happening in the UK now shows nothing has really changed over the years for the working class people in the UK.
You just have to compare what was going on then to what the Tories are doing now!
This book just shows why it is so important to belong to a Trade Union!
If David Cameron and his cronies had their way the sick, disabled, the old and unemployed people would be in the workhouse.
It's a wonder the Tories haven't thought about bringing the workhouse back, after all the UK is heading back to the 19th century with their policies!
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on 21 September 2015
I have given this work five stars because the author, who wrote this in 1911, analyses within this tale of poverty stricken working people how the conditions created by uncontrolled capitalism affect not only their living conditions, but, the affect on the common psyche. It describes how, in the face of the perceived hopelessness of their condition, people accept their lot and remain subservient to their "betters" society.

It is a sad read especially as it could more or less be describing attitudes and what may become the condition for many in 21st century UK.
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on 24 March 2017
Was recommended to read this by a friend, and it is an excellent illustration of life as a worker and the gulf between the working and non working classes. What is interesting and disappointing to note is how little things gave changed over the years - workers earning low wages, hired and fired, trying to deal with health problems and bringing up children. Well worth reading!
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on 13 August 2016
Such a brilliant description of working class life in the late 1800 's up till the first world war. So true to life in so many ways now, as it was for them. They were really victimised - callous factory & mine-owners & no trade unions, or medical help if they had no money . Robert Tressell could not get his book published in his life-time & died in a Paupers grave in Manchester aged 45. His daughter finally found a publisher who gave her £25.00, since then it has become a Labour Party classic
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on 20 June 2016
Anyone who takes our NHS and welfare state for granted should read this book
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on 7 July 2017
A book to get you thinking. The problem though is that the people that need to think more probably wouldn't buy it . Robert Tressell's thoughts on women were ahead of his time. A book that is sad and funny and thought provoking. I didn't read this in one sitting it was a book that I had to keep coming back to. I don't know if that was a problem with me or the book. Glad I read it .
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on 21 November 2015
Pulls the reader into a time when life was really hard for the majority, and extremely cushy for the privileged few. A hundred years later and you can still relate to the themes. Some would say it's as true today as it was then. Let's hope we never see the same level of social injustice on this country ever again?
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