The Jungle
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The Jungle

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3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  77,305 ratings  ·  3,456 reviews
For nearly a century, the original version of Upton Sinclair's classic novel has remained almost entirely unknown. When it was published in serial form in 1905, it was a full third longer than the censored, commercial edition published in book form the following year. That expurgated commercial edition edited out much of the ethnic flavor of the original, as well as some o...more
Paperback, The Uncensored Original Edition, 335 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by See Sharp Press (first published 1905)
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Robertisenberg
Naturally, my high school English teacher felt it necessary to assign "The Jungle" to read over Thanksgiving break. As my Dad carved the turkey, the conversation went something like this:

MOM: Could you pass the turkey?

ME: Oh, yeah, great, why don't we pass the meat that untold numbers of Slavik immigrants had to die to process? Why don't we just spit in the face of the proleteriat and laugh, knowing that he's too malnourished to fight back.

DAD: Are you okay?

ME: Oh, sure, I'm great. And you know...more
Heidi
Whenever I've asked someone if they have read The Jungle, and if they have not read it, they always respond, "isn't that about the meat packing industry?". I think that response is exactly what the author was trying to point out is wrong with his society at the time.
It is true that the main character of the book at one point goes to work in a meat packing plant, and its disgusting, and when the book was published apparently the FDA was created as a result, or something. The problem is, though,...more
Jason Koivu
Reading The Jungle will have you wringing your fists Upton Sinclair style.

description

Right up until I read it, The Jungle was one of those books I'd always heard of, but not heard about. I knew it was important, apparently, because everyone said so, but no one said why. (I guess I should have asked.) From what I gathered, it had something to do with the meat industry and its nefarious doings in the early 20th century, which led me to expect a dry, straight-forward, tell-all non-fiction revealing corruptio...more
Rachel
(written 6-03)

Wow. Now I can see why this book had such a big impression on those who read it in the early twentieth century. Really heart-wrenching (and gut-wrenching) stuff. There's the famous quote that Sinclair said he aimed for the public's heart and hit it in the stomach instead. I guess people didn't care much for the Socialism stuff, but when they learned what exactly their sausage was made of, they got mad.

It was surprising how much Sinclair reminds me of Ayn Rand, especially considerin...more
Jed
Sep 08, 2008 Jed rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: tough people
Recommended to Jed by: bennion (and a handful of people who were afraid to read it)
if i had the words to describe the horror of reading this book, i'd certainly find a way to put them here. this was a physically challenging read, as it took an epic energy even to continue. All the terrors you've ever heard about what you might find in its pages are absolutely true. the weight of it is oppressive. it stinks with the filth of early america, it aches with excruciating poverty and unrelenting suffering, and it drips an inhuman avarice summoned from the darkest reaches of a roiling...more
Danger
It's been a while since I read it, but I believe this book features a precocious young boy named Mowgli Rudkus who was raised by wolves. After singing a bunch of songs with bears and orangutans in the jungles of India, Mowgli immigrates to turn-of-the-century Chicago where he lives in abject poverty until he falls into an industrial meat grinder and becomes a hamburger. He is later served to Theodore Roosevelt for Thanksgiving dinner, 1906.

This book also has the distinction of changing America'...more
Jonfaith
It is impossible for me to review this without appearing to be pissy. The work itself is barely literary. The Jungle explores and illustrates the conditions of the meatpacking industry. Its presence stirred outcry which led to much needed reforms. Despite the heroics of tackling the Beef Trust, Upton Sinclair saw little need in the actual artful. The protagonist exists only to conjoin the various pieces of reportage. There isn't much emotional depth afforded, the characters' motivations often ap...more
Timmy
What a disservice that this book is mostly read and remembered as a mere historical reference and expose on socialism and the meat-packing industry! The final four chapters which lapse into doctrine, preaching, and recruitment don't help any in casting off the label, but otherwise the book goes well beyond the Socialist politics which motivated Sinclair to write it. The first three hundred pages focus on hardened descriptions of the physical and emotional tragedy of working class immigrants losi...more
AMD
Mar 04, 2008 AMD rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to AMD by: Mr. Buchas
I had to read this book in my high school U.S. History class. I was in an "Academic" class because due to scheduling conflicts, I could not be in either "Honors" or "AP". I hated this class. I loved the teacher, but at one point the a student stopped class to ask what the difference between the U.S.S.R. and Russia was. I spent almost every class period simultaneously wanting to kill everyone and go get coffee with the teacher, but I never spoke out loud. (Incidentally, he told me I would like co...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Essay #64: The Jungle (1906), by Upton Sinclair

The story in a nutshell:
(Much of today's plot recap was cribbed from Wikipedia, for reasons that will become clearer be...more
Leah W
Things not to do:
-tug on Superman's cape
-spit in the wind
-discuss The Jungle extensively in your junior year literature class directly before lunchtime on hot dog day
-mess around with Jim

I still don't eat hot dogs. And I ate hot dogs up until then, despite having uncles who worked at the hot dog factory that weren't the most finger-rich of individuals.


Re-read in 2005 for Gapers Block book club.
Darwin8u
One of the great social/protest novels of the 20th Century. 'The Jungle' is at once an indictment on the treatment of immigrants, poverty, American wage slavery, and the working conditions at Chicago's stockyards and meatpacking plants -- and simultaneously an exposé on the unsanitary conditions of the meat produced in the plants and led to Federal real food reform. Did I like it? Well, it pissed me off, so I thought it was a great piece of writing. It reminded me of the time when I was 19 and l...more
theduckthief
"They could tell the whole hateful story of it, set forth in the inner soul of a city in which justice and honor, women's bodies and men's souls were for sale in the marketplace, and human beings writhed and fought and fell upon each other like wolves in a pit, in which lusts were raging fires, and men were fuel, and humanity was festering and stewing and wallowing in its own corruption."

The Good:

Jurgis Rudkus is a Lithuanian immigrant, newly landed in Chicago, IL with his extended family. Like...more
Kater Cheek
I have a tendency to be easily swayed by arguments, so I asked a well-read friend for an antidote to Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED. She suggested this book. If I ever get that wish where you get to resurrect people and have them at a dinner party, I'm going to have Ayn Rand and Upton Sinclair there together. That would be an awesome cage-fight between the philosophers.

This book has an actual story with actual sympathetic characters. Well, they start out being sympathetic. Jurgis and Ona are a young...more
Kristen
"There was no justice, there was no right, anywhere in it--it was only force, it was tyranny, the will and the power, reckless and unrestrained! They had ground him beneath their heel, they had devoured all his substance; they had murdered his old father, they had broken and wrecked his wife, they had crushed and cowed his whole family; and now they were through with him, they had no further use for him--and because he had interfered with them, had gotten in their way, this was what they had don...more
Dan Henk
I read many of the standard high school required reading fare, Grapes of Wrath, Cry Beloved Country, Hearts of Darkness, Wuthering Heights, The Great Gatsby, and so on. All held their own rewards and witticisms. Some were better than others, but I could see why all were required reading. I actually had never read this book in high school. I had heard about it, and always meant to, but it took me a good 20 years to get to it.
It starts out alright. You can tell it's written by a journalist, not a...more
David
With a hundred years of hindsight, we've learned so little.

Chicken processing plant

Waste lagoon

The 1%

Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is famous for disgusting America with its tales of meat packing workers falling into vats and rendered into lard, and all the things that went into sausages and tinned beef. (Cigar butts and poisoned rats not even being the most disgusting ingredients...) But as Sinclair said about his most famous book, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach." The Jungle is not primarily about...more
matt


I'm really surprised that I hadn't added this one yet. I thought I had. We certainly go back a long way...

I read it summer before Junior year of high school for the much-coveted AP English/History class. I was excited; I remember staring at the cover of the boring old Bantam edition (I couldn't find it amid the list of editions, so I went with the pretty badassed, eye-catchingest one) and feeling like a big kid at last.

It wasn't necessarily the greatest aesthetic achievement in the history of...more
Crystal
The Jungle may not be great literature, especially with the clunky socialist propaganda at the end, but with the news lately about food from China (has the gyoza scandal made US news - several families in Japan got sick after eating dumplings that were made in China that had been tainted with pesticide), it is a good reminder that developed countries went through some pretty horrible stages, too. The vision of cheap labor supplied by immigrants, including children, is timely in this age of glob...more
Rachel
Ah, The Jungle. I know that this is traditionally an item on many high school required reading lists, but I picked it up of my own volition a few years ago. Coincidentally, Hurricane Katrina had just swept through my life, indirectly causing me to become a vegetarian.

Sinclair's writing really surprised me. I expected his style to be dry and antiquated, as some classics unfortunately are. I couldn't have been more wrong! The book was fascinating and kept me interested during many hours of commuti...more
Warren Watts
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle
I can't say I liked this book. Truthfully, it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to read, but the story has definitely stayed with me, and I've found many applications for it throughout the years. It was hard to read because its just so unstintingly honest in conveying the miserable condition of these immigrants. Normally I don't like reading about suffering for suffering's sake, but I think this book served a purpose. It was based on real events, and of course, there were probably wors...more
Ken Moten
I read this book for school and I have to say I have mixed feelings on it. On the one hand I think this book is deservedly celebrated for the change it provoked, the problem is that was not the book's purpose.

The book is famous for its graphic portrayal of the meat packing industry in turn of the century Chicago which successfully pressured lawmakers to introduce Food Safety standards to the American market (seriously if you brought meat from a store before this book came out you were eating st...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Angels Weep For Goodreads)
I read this book in high school and I couldn't put it down. It really gives you shivers to think about what went on in the food and meat industry prior to regulations. Some of the adulterants and utter crud they added to milk and meat will make your hair stand on end. Also it is horrible what workers suffered because they literally had no protection from the government from their employers. This book works well on the level of fiction and as a bit of an expose on the meat-packing industry. Inste...more
Peter
I learned about The Jungle in American History class back in high school. It was taught as being an expose about the meat packing industry. It's true that it's tangentially about the Chicago stockyards, but only as an introduction to the failures of capitalism; the analogy between the animals, who are wanted only for their meat and whose sentience and suffering are utterly irrelevant, and the workers who are wanted only for their labor with the same lack of caveats, is made quite clear.

The disre...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
This book gives a whole new meaning to survival. Living in Laos I saw starvation and lack of every thing we consider necessary to being human in way of sanitation and medical care that I could come up with. For some reason this left me with the tainted notion that poverty equated naturally with the rural sector. This book blows that idea completely to bits. The kind of never ending cycle that the factory system sets up in this novel is insanely cruel and grotesquely upsetting. Your heart aches w...more
Mike
May 06, 2013 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Like many others, I was given the joyful privilege of reading this and many other Classics in High School English. Of course, since mine was a public, but pretentious school, we were handed "Babbit" by Sinclair Lewis (whose name I needed for a trivia question 3 weeks ago), "1984", by George Orwell, "Moby Dick" by Melville, a few of Shakespeare's (not Bacon's!) plays and so on.

At the time (when mammals were still all egg-laying) I wasn't very impressed by the socialist propaganda, despite having...more
Emma Rj
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kaph
Verdict: The book that aimed for the heart and hit the stomach, a bleak a frequently stomach churning account of factory life in Chicago depressing for its relevance a century later.

In what is far from a unique experience, I first encountered The Jungle in high school. We didn’t actually have to read it at the time, though I would have jumped at the chance to substitute it for The Grapes of Wrath. Not just because Grapes of Wrath is intolerable, but because The Jungle sounded kinda cool. It was,...more
Jennifer Burke
Just because something is considered a classic and read in lit classes in the majority of our educations, doesn't mean I have to like it or bow to it as a 'seminal work'. I recognize the importance of what Sinclair wrote about the horrors of industrial America and the early food industry of the early 20th century, I can see the social commentary, the expose nature that came through fiction, and it being unusual at the time.
Doesn't mean I have to like the book or want to ever read it again. Not e...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
How the terrible situation for immigrants develops over the course of the book? 6 51 Apr 20, 2014 09:27AM  
Motivation to Read 10 63 Mar 15, 2013 08:48PM  
meat workers situation in america in late 19th century 4 49 Mar 15, 2013 07:47PM  
summer readings 16 35 Aug 10, 2012 09:04AM  
The Worm Coven: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 3 18 Nov 18, 2011 06:24PM  
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Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. was an American author who wrote close to one hundred books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the twentieth century, acquiring particular fame for his classic muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906). It exposed conditions in the U.S. meat packing industry, causing a public uproar that contributed in part to the passage a few months later of the 1906...more
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“They use everything about the hog except the squeal.” 19 likes
“If we are the greatest nation the sun ever shone upon, it would seem to be mainly because we have been able to goad our wage-earners to this pitch of frenzy.” 17 likes
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