In 1949, George Orwell (pen-name of Eric Arthur Blair) published what many consider his magnum opus, Nineteen Eighty-Four. In this dystopian future, Great Britain is part of an ideological superstate that maintains a totalitarian grip on society that is all-encompassing, with the population being monitored by round-the-clock surveillance, with government agencies that control all aspects of daily life, and with the very language manipulated to stifle un-approved thinking. It's the story of Winston Smith, who dreams that it might just be possible to oppose "the Party" and bring about change, and it's about the lessons he learns about the true nature of power in the modern world.
I first read this book in 1988, and while I did find it interesting, I thought that it went too far in expanding the Communist system of oppression to the entire world. But, watching the world around me I am astounded to find that Mr. Orwell's dystopia is actually beginning to have its echoes in my reality. I reread the book, and was surprised at just how prescient the book really was. The government wishing to monitor people without search warrants, the limitless laws that seem to reach into every aspect of everyday life, and even the manipulation of language to remove certain words or ideas as "politically incorrect."
Just how much does this book reflect reality? For those who would lead us, is it true that, "power is not a means, it's an end"? Is it true that, "If you want a vision of the future...imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever"? Or perhaps it's a boot on a human neck?
Whether this book is a prescient look at a future that is already being built, or a piece of doomsayer literature that goes too far, it is a classic of English literature that cannot be ignored. I find this to be one of the most interesting and disturbing books that I have ever read, and it is definitely one that I think should be read by EVERYONE.