Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Jungle

Upton Sinclair

This book was a change of pace. I’ve read a lot of British literature and other European favorites, but it was time to go to an American author. This book is very interesting.

It is about a man named Jurgis Rudkus. He travels to America with his family to find fortune, but is brought to the brink of death by the brutal conditions of the meat packing industry in Chicago. His family suffers and some die. He goes without food, shelter, and decent treatment.

There are descriptions in this book about the conditions that people were living and working in that makes me cringe. Being that this book is based upon true lifestyles that people had to endure, I wonder at the American Dream.

Its hard to describe the disgust I felt at the rich owners of the Beef Trust, and the corrupt politicians. The suffering that Jurgis went through, along with several thousands of people is unbelievable. All I can say is that you have to read it to believe it.

Towards the end of the book it begins to get a little preachy in favor of the Socialist movement. Since this book was published in the early nineteen hundreds it makes perfect sense. But now that things have changed in regards to labor laws and the food industry it is a little outdated in its views on politics.

This book brought about great changes in the food industry. Thank goodness it did. The changes that took place for the laborers is amazing as well. So many people died because of the greed of the rich owners. But it has changed and brutal working conditions are no longer allowed.

I recommend this to anyone studying in early 20th century America. It will help you to understand the ways of progress. I enjoyed reading it a lot, except for the nauseating tales of how they handled the meat. That wasn’t too pleasant.

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