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160 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy literature that transcends the genre of political fable
This is a handsome republication of Orwell's two most renowned works, Animal Farm and 1984. Even if you're just looking for 1984, this edition is to be commended; it comes with a fine introduction by today's leading Orwell enthusiast, Christopher Hitchens, and the reward of including Animal Farm requires very little in the way of additional effort or expense on your...
Published on June 22, 2008 by Odysseus

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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many typos!
This is a fantastic piece of literature, but it is befuddled with typos. Amazon, please proof your ebooks before selling them. I'm quite disappointed that every other use of the word "book" is spelled "hook" and that "the" is constantly spelled "die."
Published on January 17, 2012 by Tom Gartin


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160 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy literature that transcends the genre of political fable, June 22, 2008
This review is from: Animal Farm and 1984 (Hardcover)
This is a handsome republication of Orwell's two most renowned works, Animal Farm and 1984. Even if you're just looking for 1984, this edition is to be commended; it comes with a fine introduction by today's leading Orwell enthusiast, Christopher Hitchens, and the reward of including Animal Farm requires very little in the way of additional effort or expense on your part. At 80-odd pages, you may as well pick it up in the same volume, and you're virtually certain to be glad that you did.

I'm not alone in being of a generation that was first required to read Orwell in my student days (Middle School, in my case.) It seems that there was a lot of literature churned out then, accessible to if not directly aimed at children, with the horrors of totalitarianism as its theme. In addition to reading Orwell, we were also reading Huxley, Bradbury, and Verne -- the youth-oriented John Christopher books being yet another example. The generation that lived through Nazism and Stalinism clearly wanted the younger set to be aware of the horrors that could be, and to remain on guard against them.

It doesn't seem to be quite that way anymore. Orwell's name is invoked today, but often in trivializing contexts: "Big Brother" is now a brain-numbing reality show, and "Orwellian" is a convenient and often hysterically-applied charge to political opponents. Some complaceny does seem to be inevitable: we are now further removed from the days when the likes of Hitler and Stalin killed tens of millions. Still, regimes arise that are nearly as horrific on a local scale, from Pol Pot to Saddam Hussein to the Taliban, and are real enough that Orwell's book is no joke. Orwell deserves attention if for no other reason than to sensitize us to the bad form associated with invoking his name in a trivializing context. There was a political ad on Youtube last year from an Obama supporter that cast Hillary Clinton on a giant Big Brother-like screen. I'm not in the least a fan of Senator Clinton, but associating her image with those of 1984 -- as was also done in an infamous Apple Computer ad -- trivializes Orwell's message in a deplorable way. Orwell wrote his novel to warn against real dangers that his generation lived through, and which others might yet, not as a marketing ploy to be used in selling either computers or nearly indistinguishable democratic political candidacies.

The main reason I am writing this review, however, is that re-reading Orwell in my 40's is a stark reminder that his novels are more than political parables, but are worthy literature. I hope that those reading these reviews will be aware of this, and not shut their minds to a rewarding literary experience.

As a kid, I was able to perceive the pedagogical intent of these books, but less so was I able to appreciate the literary artistry. 1984 in particular passes the Nabokovian test of creating a fully believable, if terrifying, alternate world. Beyond that, on nearly every page, Orwell leaves an image that just might stay with you forever. Small wonder that so many of the terms in 1984 ("Big Brother," "Newspeak") have burrowed their way into our lexicography.

Orwell was a man of the left who understood something that many of his compatriots did not; that what had arisen in the Soviet Union was a regime unprecedented in its horror (arriving before, and ultimately outlasting, its horrific mirror image, Hitler's Third Reich.) At a time when others on the left simply refused to believe in the reality of the USSR, he looked at it unflinchingly and wrote what it was really about.

Also, in childhood, I was not able to fully appreciate that Orwell's books simply weren't negative-utopian nightmare-fantasies, but paralleled actual events in the USSR with chilling accuracy. I knew, at some level, that he was satirizing certain events and characters in the Russian Revolution, but only in adulthood was I able to closely recognize nearly every episode and character in Animal Farm. Those familiar with USSR history will find it all here in the two books: the rewriting of the past to reaffirm the infallibility of the Party, the sudden reorienting of national propaganda to suit the latest twist of foreign policy, and the complete elimination of all references to those unfortunate souls decreed never to have existed.

Truly, the thing that makes 1984 terrifying now, is not what was imagined in the novel's construction, but what was real in its sources. It exaggerates even relative to the Stalinist state -- but not by much. It is this recognition that makes it a chilling read today.

1984 is the more vivid and evocative of the two novels. Excepting one passage (Goldstein's dreary history lesson about 2/3 of the way through) it is riveting almost throughout its 300 pages.

A few notes for younger readers: The moral of Animal Farm is not that Napoleon was simply a bad apple, but rather that the system adopted by the Animals ensured that ultimately such a tyrant would dominate. (I find the end of Animal Farm to be something of a false note; in the end the pigs prove no better than, and resemble, the humans they replaced, but this understates the tragic reality that the USSR was worse still than that which it replaced.)

As I close, I leave you with one random question about 1984: how come it never occurs to Eastasia and Eurasia to combine against Oeania? Given that Oceania keeps flipping its allegiance from one to the other, you'd think they'd ultimately catch on and both decide to attack Oceania at the same time.

Silly questions aside, this book is highly commended. Worth re-reading again, especially if you only have read Orwell when as immature as was I.
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193 of 207 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On this edition -, May 30, 2006
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This review is from: Animal Farm and 1984 (Hardcover)
Because most people will review the actual book(s), which in this case are classics and I feel do not truly need a review, I will review this edition. Having the two in one is useful if you, like me, have not read the two prior to purchase or if you are a fan of both books. They are bound handsomely and the dust jacket is simple and smooth. The introduction is by someone who is obviously enamored with Orwell, and it gives some insight to the work and history of Orwell, though is mostly unecessary as you could probably wikipedia the information. This is a nice edition and I felt it was a good choice for me.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic novels in a beautiful edition, April 24, 2008
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This review is from: Animal Farm and 1984 (Hardcover)
Animal Farm and 1984 are classic literature. You've probably already read them.

This edition presents them in a classic manner -- it is a lovely book, lovely dust jacket, and Christopher Hitchens does the intro. I usually find him funny and a little snarky, but in this intro, he is serious, high-minded, informative, and respectful.

I wanted to read 1984 again, since so many people are kicking around the terms "Orwellian" and "Big Brother" regarding current politics. I'm so glad this is the volume I bought. I know I would have gotten the same *words* in a flimsy paperback, but this was a really nice read.

I read both novels again. It has been... 20 years? Maybe longer since my first read-through. I'm a different reader than I was before.

I've got that grisly Room 101 scene back in my head -- I had forgotten that one. Thanks, Mr. Orwell.

This is a lovely edition. Treat yourself.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So many typos - why?, February 14, 2012
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I enjoyed these 2 works tremendously. It's part of a retirement project to read as many iconic works as possible that somehow I didn't get down to reading early in life. However, in this day and age of spellcheckers, why are there so many typos in this Kindle edition? It looks as if the works were scanned and translated into text by software, but not then checked. Come on Amazon, you can do better.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The The books are a great read! Some mispellings in the Kindle edition though., January 10, 2011
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I really wish these books were required reading when I was in school! I do remember watching the movie Animal Farm in 8th grade though, but I don't remember much of it. I was glad when I found the books here for such a reasonable price. These stories go very well with each other. I'm not going to give an entire book report on them, but here's a very basic rundown:

Animal Farm- A group of animals on a farm (duh) overthrow their cruel master. Because the pigs are the cleverest of all the animals, they establish themselves as the "leaders" (although, their motto is "All animals are equal") Two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, are consistently fighting with each other on how the farm should be run. Eventually, Napoleon trains some dogs, and they run Snowball out of the farm. After that, Napoleon basically turns the farm into a dictatorship under his rule. Towards the end of the book, Napoleon changes their motto to "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others".

1984- In this society, based in what was once London (in the story, it is called Oceania), Big Brother controls everything and everyone. Almost every citizen has telescreens in their houses that can not be turned off. Not only do the telescreens broadcast all the time, but they also receive, so citizens could be watched, although you never know when they are watching you. The protagonist of the story, Winston, is a rebel of sorts. He purchases a diary, and writes in it (a crime punishable by death). Eventually, he ends up having an illegal romantic relationship with a woman named Julia. And, well, you'll have to read the rest, because I don't want to give too much away. It is a great read, although, there is a part towards the middle-ish end of the story where Winston is reading "The Book" (a book given to him by the "botherhood", the underground movement against Big Bother)That part is a bit dry, but it picks up after that.

As far as the Kindle version I bought, I was going to go with the hard copy, but I went with the Kindle edition instead so I could read it instantly. I defiantly don't regret it, but there are some misspellings in the Kindle version. I'm not majorly picky about spelling, so it didn't bother me too much, but I feel this something that needs to be mentioned. If misspellings are a major issue with you, don't get the Kindle version. (although, I'm not sure about the spellings in the hard copy version either, but chances are, there are less). In my opinion, these both are stories everyone should read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great readers, February 12, 2008
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T. Jarrell (Alpine, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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Simon Prebble and Ralph Cosham both do a fine job of narration. They both have easily understood English accents, and differentiated character voices that are not distracting and allow the listener to easily follow dialog between multiple characters.

Both books are very good cautionary tales about over-mighty governments that remain unchecked by citizens. I am a naturally optimistic person, but after I read either one of these books I am forced to take a more warily critical look at the government and media. It is very important that all citizens do this occasionally to avoid becoming the sheep of Animal Farm or the blind party member of 1984.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two Valuable Elements of Our Literary and Political History, May 19, 2008
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This review is from: Animal Farm and 1984 (Hardcover)
Many of us were assigned these books to read in school by thoughtful teachers. All of us should read them. In both, George Orwell gives us the tools to see exactly what liberty means and why we cannot afford to lose it.

In "Animal Farm," the fable is sufficiently removed from human experience that you can read this one to quite young children, just as you can "Alice in Wonderland" or other classics which say more each time you read them as you grow up. Even a first-grader could see the relationship of the politics of the barnyard to the politics of the playground. The jeering refrain of "Surely you don't want Jones back" can easily be recognized as the propaganda fallacy called "Reductio ad Hitlarum." Whenever the ruling pigs ran out of useful things to say, they fell back on slogans which meant nothing, but which could be molded to mean whatever they wanted them to mean in a given circumstance.

The completely classic "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" is one we must keep in mind whenever politicians start using words as if they mean the reverse of what they do mean.

1984, too, has its beautifully classic lines. The main characters are all members of the Ingsoc Party (English Socialism). It is not until well into the book that we learn they are only some 15% of the population; the rest are proles. The proles are easily dismissed as insignificant: "They can be granted intellectual liberty because they have no intellect." Use that line the next time someone tells you it's not important to educate our entire population to the best of their capabilities.

When the main character, Winston Smith, attempts to placate his tormenter by saying "You are ruling over us for our own good," he is scorned as "stupid, Winston, stupid." The party big shot responds with one of the most chilling lines I have ever read: "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face--forever."

Through the medium of conversations in the lunch room of the "Ministry of Truth," Orwell is able to tell us much about the creation and preservation of a totalitarian state. One key is the control over language which the Party exercises: "Newspeak." One of the people working on the Newspeak dictionary explains it to Winston: "You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We're destroying words--scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We're cutting language down to the bone." He brags that very soon "all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron--they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be."

Putting these two in a single hardbound volume and adding a thoughtful introduction by Christopher Hitchens was a stroke of genius on the part of Harcourt Books. It will make it all the easier for professors of political science, literature, history, psychology . . . indeed, if it was not such a contradiction with regard to books so dedicated to liberty, I'd say make them required reading.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many typos!, January 17, 2012
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This is a fantastic piece of literature, but it is befuddled with typos. Amazon, please proof your ebooks before selling them. I'm quite disappointed that every other use of the word "book" is spelled "hook" and that "the" is constantly spelled "die."
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Pleasant Introduction to Audio Books, June 3, 2008
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This was my first venture into audio books and I purchased this because I could get two books for only a few dollars more than 1. This turned out to be a great purchase. I do not own a cd player that plays MP3's, but I was able to put the disk into my computer and drag and drop the files into my portable MP3 player and copy the files onto my hard drive so that I can listen on my computer or convert the files to WAV myself and burn onto a standard CD.

The boxed set is essentially a regular DVD sized box with a chapter listing. Nothing else is included, but you don't need anything else. The readers are wonderful. Very clear voices with nice inflection that doesn't distract from the story. Both these books are classic reads, so if you'd like reviews on the content of the books, I'd suggest you look up the paper editions as they are heavily reviewed and provide a lot of information.

This version is unabridged so the same information should apply. As a matter of fact, much of the information is easier to understand when listening to it rather than reading it off the page - particularly the introduction portion which I normally just skip over to get to the story was very interesting and much more thought provoking to listen to than I would have expected.

The sound is crystal clear and the product is highly recommended.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Orwell Speaks, August 20, 2006
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This review is from: Animal Farm and 1984 (Hardcover)
Six decades later, his work still speaks to us. Orwell's Animal Farm & 1984 are important pieces of literature and should be required reading for all. Once read, one realizes the relevance of each story and is forever changed.

The fact that they have combined both works into one book is just icing on the cake.
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Animal Farm and 1984
Animal Farm and 1984 by George Orwell (Hardcover - June 1, 2003)
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