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on December 20, 2016
For the first time reader this book will go down into memory forever. How graphic it is in detail and how the description of working poor tug at the heart strings. Sinclair has taken us deep into the workings of the meat packing industry in the early20th. century. The utter callousness and disregard of the industry bosses for the workers who did all the hard and dirty work. How the supervisors on the meat factory floor took advantage of the workers, the landlords and loan companies that all but rendered these workers pursuing the American dream into a nightmare. In places I had to skip pages because I became tearful and could not read further.
I could not help comparing the travails of the Lithuanian family in this book struggling in Chicago to the poor Mexican laborers in our San Joaquin Valley farms who live even today under slightly better conditions than slavery to put produce within our reach. American capitalism hasn't changed in over 100 years to any appreciable degree. Yesterday it was the African American, Irish, the Italian and east Europeans and now it is the Mexican, Guatemalan and Salvadoran slaves working for us. When will American industry learn to be fair and considerate with its own people ? Read up about Egypt of the pharaohs. That is a clear 4500 years ago when the Egyptian farmer-laborers built the great pyramids. The nobility of this colossal work out of a few laborers not with whips and deprivation but with care and consideration. Is America less civilized now than man thousands of years ago ? I thank Upton Sinclair who wrote this book.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon December 29, 2016
When I was a student, teachers always referred to "The Jungle" as the expose that led to the Pure Food and Drug Act, and described the book as an expose of the rats and filth that went into the meat packaged and sold at that time. While this is true, there was much left out of those scant explanations.

This is a novelized depiction of life in Chicago in the early 19th century. Yurgis and Ono, along with other members of their family, move to America to participate in the land of opportunity and riches. They quickly become pulled into the horrific world of the Chicago stockyards, and halfway through the novel, the idyllic life envisioned by Yurgis has been destroyed. He experiences other adventures over the next few years until he finds happiness by embracing Socialism. Throughout this long journey, Yurgis encounters more misery than the average man would be able to endure.

Sinclair accomplished a journalistic feat with his undercover investigation of the meat packing process (he spent almost two months working in the Chicago plants). This book also has a political undertone which reveals itself at the end with a long explanation of the benefits of Socialism (though this should not be a surprise to the reader, as capitalism and the two-party system is at the heart of Yurgis's problems).

This is a good read for those who have a desire to learn more about life in the early 1900s and the affects on immigrants and citizens.
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on March 16, 2017
I've read this over 20 years ago and I'm rereading it again, just to remind me what life is like if you don't speak up for your rights! Great Book from an era that we maybe repeating, hopefully not. In short, this a fictional (may have possibly happened) story is about an eastern European immigrant couple in search of the "American Dream", but due to extreme unsafe working/living conditions and class inequality, they ultimately succumb to the crushing wheels of progress of the Industrial Revolution.
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on November 8, 2016
I like The Jungle as a novel, but this particular edition infuriated me! Who is the publisher you can't tell, because apart from a nice looking cover the rest of the book looks like it was printed in somebody's basement. Seriously, Amazon?! The print is the smallest I've seen in my life and it seems like they tried to pack this novel in as fewer pages as possible. Bad, bad experience for my eyes ! I honestly don't know why this book is priced $12-$15 if the cost of printing it must be minimal with all the cramped chapters and practically no space between lines left. I would appreciate if next time before selling classic literature in such a bad format Amazon put a warning about small print, low quality paper and overall sad looking book. I'm not even sure if this edition is legal - there are no usual information on author, date of publishing and the name of publishing house anywhere on the cover or elsewhere. No foreword of any kind either. Looks like a pirate version to me. And I also bought The Great Gatsby at the same time , which appears to come from the same place . Not cool, Amazon, not cool. If this is Amazon.com own publishing house I am utterly disappointed . Only someone who has not known love for books can do such a lousy job.
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on May 17, 2016
We had discussed "The Jungle" in high school a long time ago and I had never gotten the chance to read it till now. All I knew getting into this book is that it discussed the horrid conditions of the Chicago stock yards and the meat packing industry in the early part of the 20th century. I also knew that based on this book laws were passed in Congress to regulate the industry forcing it to clean up it's act, literally. However, the conditions of the stock yards is not what this book is about. They were simply the backdrop to this heart wrenching story of a Lithuanian immigrant family which had come to America chasing the "American dream" with what can only be described as hopeful naivety. The story takes you through the process of them being chewed up and spit out by the merciless teeth of the early 20th century industrial capitalist machine. I won't give any details away but the journey of Jurgis Rudkus and his family is one that would surely make even the most hardened and callous individual to feel genuine pity and sorrow for plight of the protagonists.

Upton Sinclair's story telling is gripping in its suspense and vivid in its detail. It is chock full of socialist and progressive under tones and is quite liberal even by today's standards when it comes to socioeconomic standards; but at the same time the same overt racism which was rampant during that time manages to reveal itself in his writing more than once particularly when it comes to depicting African Americans, and certain groups of immigrants such as the Irish and Japanese. In conclusion my opinion of Upton Sinclair is that he's no hero, but he was certainly a visionary for his time. And in any case, I would highly recommend this book because not only is it insightful to the conditions of early 19th century America but many parallels can be drawn to today's America and because many of the core issues this book discusses are just as relevant in 2016 as they were in 1904.
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on March 16, 2014
Amazing writing. I'm not sure why this wasn't required reading when I was in school, or why I never was into reading classic novels in my younger years, but I'm glad I finally got around to reading "The Jungle." I can see why the book created such a stir.

This novel, written at the end of the gilded-age, shows the great divide created by unregulated capitalism, showing how workers and consumers can end up bearing the heavy burden, the real cost, of maintaining the lifestyles of the rich and powerful, how the American dream of working hard to succeed does not work when the cards are stacked against you.

Funny how some of these same problems are with us again. How easy it is to assume the free market can regulate itself, after generations of living in a regulated market. People seem to forget the first principle of business is to make a profit.

The ending was a weak point by today's standards. There was hope that socialism would address all the flaws of social inequity. Obviously, that never happened, though political changes were enacted to address some of the inequities. Socialism was a dream never realized and I'm not sure I'd want the author's final solution. It reminded me of Ayn Rand, escaping from Communism and seeing Capitalism as the ultimate system of perfection. The grass is always greener . . .

The theories of government never translate into practice with the lofty ideals or ethics of the philosophers who write about a perfect society. I doubt there is any system (including capitalism) that would be successful if not tempered to address the ways humans devise to scam the system.

What I found most interesting is the nation's current drift into a second gilded-age. It makes this a frightening powerful novel, a modern-day warning. I wish it was required reading.
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on November 7, 2014
The Jungle is a story about the struggles of a Lithuanian immigrant and his family in early 1900s America. Sinclair details the significant challenges faced by immigrants as they arrived and fought for survival. The book also exposes the brutal conditions for unskilled laborers in that time period, highlighting the factors contributing to the development of labor unions in America. The end of the book depicts how the main character, Jurgis, is drawn to the principles of Socialism based on his experiences in the American work force.

I didn't really care for the ending of this book, and the main character is constantly thrown into frustrating situations to highlight the brutal living and working conditions of the time period. And although I do not subscribe to Socialist principles, I can definitely understand why Jurgis chooses to believe in them based on his experiences.

I would not recommend this book if you want to read something uplifting, unless you are a Socialist.
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on January 3, 2014
It's a story that begins as if you had a microscope into the souls of real people, who are desperate, hard working slaves to a big machine. Then you zoom out and get a broader look at the machine and its negative impact on its immediate surroundings. All the while, you follow the central character, who is very naïve to begin with, but through so much experience learns, first hand how the entire system operates. Finally, you will see the broadest picture of a corrupted system that will destroy any and every thing to preserve its own wealth and keep a thumb on the working-class people who are either too busy or too ignorant to organize and abolish it. Sounds so familiar!

You will be shocked by so many atrocities and it will be difficult not to feel empathy for the characters, who destroy themselves in the name of Capitalism. Time and again the protagonist is put through trials that would cause you or I to curl up and die! It's a very dark book with a very good message and I recommend it to all!

P.S. I haven't read the other reviews, but I'm willing to bet that many of them will warn of the slaughterhouse scenes, which made me REALLY happy to be a vegetarian!
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on January 14, 2013
This book is a conundrum. As noted by my title, the first two thirds is very good, and tells the story of Jurgis Rudkus and his family's ill-fated migration from Lithuania to America. They find their way to Chicago, and then several family members go through a series of highs and lows, finding work, losing work, gettting taken by unscrupulous bankers and lawyers, getting injured on the job, being forced into sexual relationships to keep jobs, etc. The early part of the book centers on Packingtown, and this part of the book is riveting and well written. After a series of incredible misfortunes, the main character, Jurgis, takes to the road and discovers a bit of America. This section of the book is also interesting, though sketchy. Clearly, Sinclair was beginning to either run out of gas or run out of interest in the story. In the last third of the book, Jurgis returns to Chicago and attends a socialist rally in which he gets converted to this economic doctrine. At that point, the story of Jurgis is largely abandoned, and the last 15% (on kindle) of the book is a series of speeches and monologues on the wonders of socialism. This section was for the most part unreadable, and this is coming from someone who considers himself a liberal! The end doesn't actually even reference Jurgis, so the reader has no idea what happens to him at the end of the story. He simply vanishes from the narrative.

I had considered using this for a college level class in Economic Geography, but the last portion of the book was just too slow and preachy, as others have noted here. What is interesting is that within these pages is a GREAT novel, if only he had concentrated on Jurgis' story. The scenes in the meat packing houses are incredibly well written (and hard to read), but that part of the book is completely wrapped about halfway through. So, in conclusion, this may be a classic, but I believe that judgment is mainly for the first two thirds of the book. As a previous reviewer noted, don't feel bad that you don't read to the end, since the story of Jurgis is concluded earlier than that, as is the narrative.
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on February 6, 2013
I loved the character development and description of the Chicago slaughter houses and meat packing industry in the early 1900s.

The abuse of immigrants and workers in general was appalling. The harder they worked, the farther behind they were.

Jurgis, the main character, was a healthy,strong young man when he came from Lithuania with his fiance and family. He suffered horrible set back after horrible set back. When he enjoyed his FIRST - in 3 years - full body "bath", in a pond, I had tears in my eyes. (THAT was an awkward sentence but I hope the sentiment came through.)

Along the way, Jurgis learned how to read English and learned about politics. He discovered how the meat industry got away with breaking laws and health codes. He became part of the evil web for a brief time - until they couldn't use him anymore.

Then Jurgis discovered Socialism. The last part of the book is about Socialism and although it was very interesting the book ended without mention of Jurgis. WHAT happened to him????

One hundred years later, America still has issues with it's meat industry. PINK SLIME is just one of the problems.

The few, rich people at the top will Always try to take short cuts and make more money - even when they already have more than they need.

The Jungle is a timeless book. I'm glad I read it.
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