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The Iron Heel

3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,017 Ratings  ·  293 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, 303 pages
Published 1957 by Sagamore Press (NY) (first published 1908)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Alex
May 23, 2014 Alex rated it did not like it  ·  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
Cwn_annwn_13
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
Matt
Aug 08, 2015 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A working class hero is something to be

This is an important book. It's so important that the editors of the German Wiktionary site decided to use a quote from the book for the entry IMPORTANT. I think I never used the phrase must read for a book in any one of my reviews. And I'm still not doing it here. But I'd answer YES! if you ask "Should I read this book?"

Those of you who read other works by Jack London and think that this is some adventure story set in Alaska or on a ship at sea or someth
...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
Lyn
Mar 17, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Iron Heel by Jack London is Upton Sinclair meets Wolf Larson.

Described by many as the first of the modern dystopian novels, this one takes a strongly socialist stance, clearly espousing this ideology in lengthy diatribes. While reading this work I frequently compared to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, but in contrast. Both novels ambitiously seek a prophetic tone, but both ultimately wind up as monological propaganda with straw man arguments propped up in opposition.

The Iron Heel does have the
...more
Thom Swennes
Sep 17, 2012 Thom Swennes rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 23, 2012 Alfred Searls rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Jon-Erik
Jan 01, 2011 Jon-Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris Dietzel
Jul 23, 2015 Chris Dietzel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Take the journal style of Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale', the social outrage found in Orwell's nonfiction writing, and Ayn Rand's use of long-running dialogue to get across political ideology and you have 'The Iron Heel.' First published in 1907, it's heard to imagine this book wasn't influential to each of those authors. It's also hard to believe I didn't even know about the book until another GR member referred me to it.

The Oligarchy in 'The Iron Heel' aims to crush its citizens, just as Ocea
...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
B-MO
Nov 23, 2009 B-MO rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wow....
Wow...

Wow....

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
Jim
My old 1970ish paperback has an introduction by Howard Zinn that's very well done. My only prior reading of Zinn was his A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present by Howard Zinn. I don't care for him too much as a historian due to his bias, but he is readable. He seems to like "Iron Heel" a lot, too.

My first impression was a weird one. It kind of reminds me of Atlas Shrugged for some reason. I don't think London & Rand could be further apart politically, though. Every comparison
...more
Brian
Jan 08, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jon
Feb 11, 2011 Jon rated it it was ok  ·  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.
wally
Dec 05, 2011 wally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: london
"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."

contents
forward
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
Anna
Jan 15, 2013 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
'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 really liked it
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
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
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
Edie
Mar 04, 2013 Edie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steven
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
Shane
Aug 29, 2015 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dystopian novel, the precursor to Orwell’s 1984, that has echoes of today’s ascendance of the “One Percent,” or the Oligarchy as London called it during his day.

The device used to convey the story is an interesting one: a historical record kept by the wife, Avis Everhard, of the founder of the Revolution, Ernest Everhard, of an uprising that raged against the Oligarchy for 300 years before Socialism finally took hold in the form of the Brotherhood of Man (BOM); this manuscript has been found 7
...more
Buck Ward
This book, The Iron Heel, is a manuscript that has been discovered 7 centuries into the future, 300 hundred years in the Christian era and 400 years in the era of the Brotherhood of Man. The manuscript was written by Avis Everhard. The driving force is her husband, Ernest Everhard. Everhard is a tireless socialist activist and revolutionary. He preaches the gospel in favor of Labor vs. Capital. Even when he addresses a group of capitalists, they are unable to refute his arguments. The first thir ...more
Greg Strandberg
I enjoyed this book when I read it back in 2000 or so. I was 18 and impressionable, perhaps confused. Stories of the rich subjugating the poor and having their way with them just made sense.

The book is heavy-handed at times, but it's a good read. I would not recommend it as your first Jack London book, that's for sure!
Lucille
May 04, 2012 Lucille rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia, for-school
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
Oct 25, 2010 Neil Crossan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Wolfpabiru
Jun 04, 2013 Wolfpabiru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
«Ovunque esista una classe dominante, gran parte della morale pubblica ha origine dai suoi interessi e dal suo senso classista di superiorità».


In uno dei racconti di Tu, sanguinosa infanzia di Michele Mari, Conrad dice a Jack London: "lo stile, benedetto ragazzo, lo stile.

Leggendo i libri di London in italiano ovviamente è impossibile giudicare "lo stile", influenzato com'è dal traduttore, ma se c'è una cosa che mi affascina sempre è la grande versatilità di quest'uomo. Riesce a raccontare sto
...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
Douglas
Jul 07, 2009 Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mike
Jun 22, 2015 Mike rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-owned
This is an odd novel that's really divided into two parts: the first half documents the political philosophy and rise of Ernest Everhard, with long speeches and conversations detailing London's socialist views. In all honesty, it reads like a socialist Ayn Rand novel, with flimsy characters who exist merely to spout political perspectives or act as straw men to Everhard (whom London clearly sees as a heroic version of himself). The second half of the novel documents the violent revolution agains ...more
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  • Swastika Night
  • When the Sleeper Wakes
  • News from Nowhere and Other Writings
  • Red Star
  • After London: or, Wild England
  • It Can't Happen Here
  • The Sheep Look Up
  • The World Inside
  • Kallocain
  • The Guardener's Tale
  • Bend Sinister
  • Alcatraz: Jack Folla un DJ nel braccio della morte
  • The Purple Cloud (Frontiers of Imagination)
  • Reflections on the Way to the Gallows: Rebel Women in Prewar Japan
  • The Drive-In: A Double-Feature Omnibus
  • The Hustler
  • A Strange Manuscript found in a Copper Cylinder
  • The Machine Stops
1240
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
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“The press of the United States? It is a parasitic growth that battens on the capitalist class. Its function is to serve the established by moulding public opinion, and right well it serves it.” 12 likes
“I know nothing that I may say can influence you," he said. "You have no souls to be influenced. You are spineless, flaccid things. You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats. There is no Republican Party. There is no Democratic Party. There are no Republicans nor Democrats in this House. You are lick-spittlers and panderers, the creatures of the Plutocracy.” 6 likes
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