The Iron Heel
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The Iron Heel

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  2,953 ratings  ·  232 reviews
Set in the future, "The Iron Heel" describes a world in which the division between the classes has deepened, creating a powerful Oligarchy that retains control through terror. A manuscript by rebel Avis Everhard is recovered in an even more distant future, and analyzed by scholar Anthony Meredith. Published in 1908, Jack London's multi-layered narrative is an early example...more
Paperback, 266 pages
Published December 25th 2011 by Empire Books (first published 1907)
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May 23, 2014 Alex rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: socialist pigs
Jack London wrote a dystopia! Did you know that? I didn't! It is terrible.

The first 75% is pure political screed. And not very well scrode, either; it's hysterically and ineptly scridden, and it makes socialism look bad. (By the way, that Lincoln quote didn't happen.) The fact that I happen to agree with the basic ideas here doesn't make the book any less boring.

When the plot finally does kick in, it's...well, who cares what it is? Without discussion*, if it hasn't kicked in by the halfway mark,...more
In the Iron Heel London lays out something right in step with reality, past present and almost certainly the future. Jack London was a guy that had hobnobbed and interacted with the well to do (he was even a member of Bohemian Grove) but he had also seen the hard side of life, working on fishing boats and in various brutal exploitive labor jobs, doing time in jail, etc. So he had an insight that not many people have.

In this work he really lays out through fictional characters how many segments...more
A.J. Howard
The Iron Heel is said to have been a great influence on later dystopian fiction, but London's book is completely lacking the subtlety and skill of Orwell, Huxley, or Burgess. Where the latter authors tell carefully crafted fables, London relies on heavy handed, exhausting, and apparently plagiarized polemics. Although they are almost ideological antonyms, this book is much more akin to Rand's Atlas Shrugged than Orwell's 1984. At least Rand's tome managed to engage the reader before embarking on...more
Thom Swennes
Sep 17, 2012 Thom Swennes rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I would recommend it to every thinking and feeling person.
Revolutionary! I have read some of Jack London’s works but The Iron Heel came as a complete surprise. Published in 1908, it proved both intuitive and fatalistic. Written before the World War I and the Russian Revolution, it suggested their passing. The book is written as a manuscript written around the start of World War I and found hundreds of years later. The document describes the coming revolution and it inevitability. The industrial revolution and capitalism has run amuck and the oppressed...more
Alfred Searls
Now, before we go on, here’s a suggestion; check your personal political views in at the door. In ‘The Iron Heel’ Jack London openly displays his early twentieth century socialist leanings but the book itself is much more than the sum of its political and economic parts. Don’t believe me? Well try this for size - “Under the oligarchs will flourish, not a priest class, but an artist class.”

A bold assertion I think you’ll agree, and one which few writers have ever chosen to ascribe to an imaginary...more
George Orwell commented that the prophecies of this book turned out to be more true than either The Shape of Things To Come or Brave New World. He was correct. It was also more prophetic than 1984. In the end, 1984 is a reduction of philosophical ideas into a manual of power. Even if Oceania never exists, it will always be, like a Platonic idea, out there as a model for a way to run the world.

The Iron Heel, on the other hand, could almost have been written in 2007 instead of 1907.

As a political...more
It is not difficult to imagine why this work does not share the same recognition as White Fang or The Call of the Wild. London, through the character of Ernest Everhard, makes no apologies for his relentlessly honest assessment of contemporary capitalism and the society it is producing. In the story, the "Iron Heel" of the title is a title commonly applied to the capitalist "Oligarchy" that rises out of the numerous contradictions in capitalist society that were so starkly visible in the early t...more
Thomas Dolan
My respect for London has just been destroyed, the hammers of his long, boring, and inaccurate arguments slowly beat his glorified reputation in my eyes to nothing more that Sadaam Hussein's Babylon.

Basically,this book is London's attempt to convert you to his Socialist viewpoint, with something about a revolution and an awful, horribly half-baked love story. I'd finished this book about two days ago, and all I remember are the long, drawn out, "arguments", that as anyone who has read this book...more


OK, ok....First off...this is not your regular Jack London stuff, hell I didn't even know he was a socialist till reading this.

This is a dystopian novel, an odd book, supposedly a manuscript dug up around the year 2700, this manuscript chronicles events that take place in the early 20th century as capitalism develops into a sort of oligarchy.

The reader is given footnotes by a historian from 2700 who is trying to explain the strangeness of some of our history to his contemporaries...more
'The Iron Heel' is an interestingly inconsistent book, not so much in ideology as in style. It is presented as a hagiography of an unsuccessful revolutionary, written by his wife. The first few chapters include her slightly tiresome habit of breathlessly praising everything he does or says. The account becomes more compelling when the wife herself becomes an active revolutionary and is separated from her husband. At this point, though, events very violent and the book culminates in the horrible...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 24, 2013 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Jesse from SFF Audio
“We are all caught up in the wheels and cogs of the industrial machine.”

When this book was selected for an SFF Audio Readalong discussion (link at bottom of post), I was surprised I hadn't heard of it in all my reading of dystopias and disasters. Jack London, an ardent socialist, published this in 1907 as a warning for the Oligarchy that was bound to take control if the proletariat didn't rise up.

The story itself is told through the diary of Avis Everhard, telling the story of the revolutionary...more
Feb 11, 2011 Jon rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: KC Pub Lib Altered States Winter 2011
Dystopian, or very dated alternate history, which drowned me in Marxism and the evils of capitalism as viewed through the lens of the very early 20th century. My perspective, a century later, shows many of these ills have been legislatively remedied. Not much of a story or plot, no real character growth; mostly essay or lecture on socialism, topped off with stomping feet, neo-terrorism and the beginnings of a non-nuclear Cold War.
"at first, this earth, a stage so gloomed with woe you almost sicken at the shifting of the scenes. and yet be patient. our playwright may show in some fifth act what this wild drama means."

1 my eagle
2 challenges
3 johnson's arm
4 slaves of the machine
5 the philomaths
6 adumbrations
7 the bishop's vision
8 the machine breakers
9 the mathematics of a dream
10 the vortex
11 the great adventure
12 the bishop
13 the general strike
14 the beginning of the end
15 last days
16 the end
17 the scarlet l...more
I give this book 5 stars for being revolutionary, in more ways than one. When it was written, I think the closest there was to the dystopian genre was H.G. Well's Time Machine. It was a leader in that sense, but it was also incredibly predictive and insightful to many future events. I had to stop reading several times to check the original copyright of the book. Was it really only written in 1908? How on earth did Jack London, the author best known for books like Call of the Wild and White Fang,...more
While I was reading this book I had to keep reminding myself that it was written in the first decade of the 1900's. This was a book that was well before it's time with both dystopian and science fiction themes. The beginning parts of the book could also easily take place in today's society with some of the same themes. Capital vs. Labor, Capitalism vs. Socialism, Revolution and Class Warfare, Secret government intrigue and manipulation of identification. Maybe not the most accurate depictions of...more
London's novel is written with an interesting narrative stucture. It is in the first person perspective of a character who is not intitially the novel's hero, and is introduced and annotated by a fictional historian supposedly 700 years in the future.
Avis Everhard (nee Cunningham) is a somewhat frustrating character. Scratch that. She is irritating. She is the narrator of the novel, which is meant to be her journal. The biggest issue that I take with Avis is how blinded she is by her awe for he...more
Neil Crossan
Imagine a revolutionary figure in the future. Imagine his sudden execution by the government. Imagine his wife running off to a place where she can write the story of her brave husband. But before she can finish the government has tracked her down. She hides the book in a tree and flees for her life. It’s 400 years later and the book has been found, but by now the government is benevolent and the book is published under the title The Iron Heel, with notes by historians correcting & adding to...more
Mike (the Paladin)
This book illustrates that just because you like some of a writers work it doesn't mean you'll like it all.

What we have here is an attempt at selling an ideology inside a sort of doomed romance story...and take that as I wrote it. Not only is the romance doomed, so is the story. Any story in this volume (which I skimmed as an attempt to read London's tortured attempt to make universal socialism logical is painful at best) Any story in this book (and there isn't much) is completely overwhelmed b...more
Craig DiLouie
This is Jack London like you’ve never read him. In THE IRON HEEL, his sweeping Dystopian novel published in 1908 (available free here, including in Kindle and other formats), a young upper class woman meets a socialist firebrand and becomes entwined in his destiny to play a part in a bloody class war fought on the streets of America. Labor, pushed deep into poverty and fed up with its share of the produce of capital, rebels against the capitalist class and elects socialists to Congress, which di...more
Jul 07, 2009 Douglas rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Orwell, Huxley, and other novelists who wrote of dystopic themes
During the Cold War, my teachers ignored and did not teach the whole of Jack London. We learned back then that he was a journalist who ventured into Alaska and wrote adventure stories about animals, such as Call of the Wild and White Fang. London was in fact a committed socialist who wrote many left-wing essays and several powerful novels about the plight of the poor and the socialist cause. Twice he ran for mayor of Oakland, California, as a socialist. The Iron Heel is London's dystopic novel a...more
"Out of the decay of self-seeking capitalism, it was held, would arise that flower of the ages, the Brotherhood of Man. Instead of which, appalling alike to us who look back and to those that lived at the time, capitalism, rotten-ripe, sent forth that monstrous offshoot, the Oligarchy."

I chose to open with this quote not only because it encapsulates the basic premise of The Iron Heel, but also because I think it gives the reader a good glimpse of Jack London’s writing style. I just love the phra...more
Ahmed El  Wakeel

رواية تتنبأ بظهور الرأسمالية ثم سقوطها وعودة الإشتراكية كُتبت 1907 !!
Dec 14, 2007 Bruce rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: politicos
(1) Capitalism, though I'm firmly in its clenches, indeed sucks. (2) London could really write. (3) Yours for the revolution...
James Barker
My father loved Jack London. When I was a child, in his library, the little room under the stairs, there were faded copies of 'White Fang' and 'Call of the Wild' that had both seen better days. I wish Dad had got beyond the boy's own adventure output that made London famous; I think it would have helped to explain some things that troubled him throughout his life.

For 'The Iron Heel' is a fine socialist text but it is not just this. Certainly the book influenced George Orwell and a stream of thou...more
Jose Gaona
Escrito a modo de crónica casi mítica, "El Talón de Hierro" nos habla de un futuro distópico y, por tanto, es un libro a añadir a la lista que forman "1984", "Un Mundo Feliz", etc. Una de sus virtudes indiscutibles consiste en presagiar certeramente el surgimiento y la concentración de los grupos de poder para-políticos, las multinacionales, trusts y, en una palabra, la "oligarquía" como desarrollo del capitalismo maduro, al mismo tiempo que consistir en una exposición bastante didáctica de las...more
Tko bi rekao da London može napisati ovakvu zvjer?
Čitajući, često sam imao u glavi scenu iz Matrixa u kojoj policajac piše prometnu kaznu dok Morpheus govori Neu nešto kao: "Zapamti. Oni su toliko uključeni u sustav da će umrijeti kako bi ga zaštitili." Eto! London je našao nevjerojatan način kako pokazati upravo to. Zašto je kapitalistički sistem tako uspješan? Zato što ga potrošnjom dobara koja mu ne trebaju, svaki pojedinac zapravo brani. Isto čini svakim svojim činom koji bi trebao imati za...more
The Iron Heel is considered a dystopian novel, and it was written in 1908 by Jack London. I generally enjoy dystopian stories, and I did enjoy the majority of this book as well. On a scale of one to ten, I would rate this book a seven.

*possible spoilers*

This book is mostly presented as a historical document, a manuscript by Avis Everhard, a socially elite woman who falls in love with a Socialist revolutionary, and with Socialism itself. The book tells the story of the erosion of Capitalism as an...more
John Maniscalco
I am a big fan of Jack London, which is why it is so difficult for me to admit that I really didn't like this book. But since London has provided me many hours of entertainment, I will start off with a positive. London displays an intimate knowledge of Marxist thought and articulates complex concepts into laymans terms. He, of course, was a socialist, and would have made an excellent propogandist for the socialist cause.

The book is really divided into two sections. The first section, which takes...more
Andrew Donakowski
As heavy handed as the capitalist machine is repressive, the Iron Heel is an early take on the "dystopian" novel pulled off better and later by the likes of Aldous Huxly (Brave New World) and George Orwell (1984). Written in 1907, it is sometimes praised for it's "uncanny predictions" (ex, international tensions leading to the first world war, development of organized union "castes"). The back of the book describes it as "part science fiction, part dystopian fantasy, part radical socialist tract...more
Sometimes there is a book that plainly speaks to your inner spirit. Something that not only speaks, but violently shouts its message at you. As abrasive as this may sound, sometimes the voice doing the shouting is refined, and taking a position of professionalism. Jack London somehow manages to shout out his message with such a voice.

The Iron Heel was published in 1908. I was only familiar with London's rugged outdoorsman-style writings (White Fang, Call of the Wild), but when I heard that he wr...more
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Jack London was an American novelist, journalist, social-activist and short-story writer whose works deal romantically with elemental struggles for survival. At his peak, he was the highest paid and the most popular of all living writers. Because of early financial difficulties, he was largely self educated past grammar school.

London drew heavily on his life experiences in his writing. He spent ti...more
More about Jack London...
The Call of the Wild White Fang The Call of the Wild/White Fang The Call of the Wild, White Fang and Other Stories The Sea Wolf

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“The press of the United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. It's function is to serve the established by moulding public opinion, and right well it serves.” 5 likes
“We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words—Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power.” 2 likes
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