Customer Review

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting reading, August 9, 2001
This review is from: The Jungle (Bantam Classics) (Mass Market Paperback)
If you are considering reading this book: 1) Read it! 2) Read the novel, then the excellent introduction (I've never read an introduction I liked so well.) I recommend you read this book not because it is such an incredible piece of literature but because of it's importance when it came out. The novel's central story is what happens to an immigrant family working in the Chicago stockyards in the early 1900s. Some reviewers have blasted the book's pro-Socialism, anti-capitalism slant. I think that is a bit silly; the last few pages are somewhat of a Socialist manifesto, but it doesn't interfere with the rest of the novel being an interesting read. While every conceivable bad thing happens to the protagonist, and while such occurrences may seem outlandish and unlikely, it is still important for us to consider that they could have happened; it is still important for us to consider how such calamities and uneducated choices can shape our lives. When the book was published, public attention focused not on the plight of the immigrant protagonist, but on the conditions in the packing plants and slaughterhouses. Sinclair meticulously researched this part of the book, and all his claims were supported but one (that of a man ending up in a bucket of lard). I have been to present day slaughterhouses and packing plants, and I know that conditions today are sanitary and humane for the most part. However, the book gave me an appreciation that this was not always the case. As you read the novel, consider your reaction if you had been reading it when it was first published; consider also the choices you would have made as the immigrant protagonist.
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