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The Iron Heel (Rediscovered Classics) Paperback – January 1, 1981
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Novel by Jack London, published in 1908, describing the fall of the United States to the cruel fascist dictatorship of the Iron Heel, a group of monopoly capitalists. Fearing the popularity of socialism, the plutocrats of the Iron Heel conspire to eliminate democracy and, with their secret police and military, terrorize the citizenry. They instigate a German attack on Hawaii on Dec. 4, 1912; as socialist revolutions topple capitalist governments around the world, the Iron Heel has 52 socialist members of the U.S. Congress imprisoned for treason. Elements of London's vision of fascism, civil war, and governmental oppression proved to be prophetic in the first half of the 20th century. --The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From the Publisher
This book is in Electronic Paperback Format. If you view this book on any of the computer systems below, it will look like a book. Simple to run, no program to install. Just put the CD in your CDROM drive and start reading. The simple easy to use interface is child tested at pre-school levels.
Windows 3.11, Windows/95, Windows/98, OS/2 and MacIntosh and Linux with Windows Emulation.
Includes Quiet Vision's Dynamic Index. the abilty to build a index for any set of characters or words. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
The novel is the memoires of Avis Everhard and focuses on the exploits of her husband, Ernest Everhard during the start of the socialist revolution in America and the establishment of the authoritarian regime, the Iron Heel. Avis' manuscript is discovered by historians six hundred years in the future and of the novel's most entertaining features are the various footnotes with historical commentary on the revolution and its ultimate victory.
Ernest himself is an ideal man. He is a self-educated working class philosopher who never loses an intellectual argument and who is always right in his predictions...as confirmed by his wife and the footnotes. Although Ernest is an ardent socialist, he is also compassionate man who does much to help the poor and downtrodden.
The story is fast-paced and centers around the collapse of the United States as we know it and its replacement by the Iron Heel, a government run by and for large capitalists. The Iron Heel engages in a brutal war against the working class--both through "divide and conquer" techniques and brutal warfare. It is an easy book to read with a good mix of argument and action (Ayn Rand could have learned a lot from London's style!). One annoying feature of the novel is that Ernest is perhaps too perfect and his opponents are too much of straw men.
Some readers commented on how right London is on his prediction that the oligarchy has taken over politics. There is nothing really prophetic about this novel as it is built around a failed and incorrect economic theory. As an economist, I have to object to the underlying Marxist theories of economy. Marx (and through him, London) did not allow for technological change (or productivity gains) that has turned the economy from a zero-sum game to a growing pie. While there is certainly room to fight over who gets what share, the picture is not as bleak as Marx imagined.
Likewise, economic evolution does not seem to move in one direction and the winners and losers are constantly changing--Facebook did not exist ten years and Microsoft and Apple did not exist thirty years ago. US Steel today is a footnote. Finally, while conspiracies do exist, they are hard to maintain. While it might be in the interest of all "oligarchs" to act in one way, it is unlikely that they will do so.
Interestingly, I think that today the novels like Iron Heel tend to be written more about a leftist state running amok and trampling individual freedom (once again, Ayn Rand) than right-wings oligarchies doing the same.
For me, Iron Heel is well written and entertaining novel. Although I don't subscribe to the socialist doctrine underlying the novel, it is still well worth it.