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The People Ofthe Abyss

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,507 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
Jack wrote this book after passing as an Americaqn sailor stranded in London in 1902. He had been sleeping in flop houses living among the destitute. A classic novel of the people who live in the abyss of poverty. This book is the best selling novel for this publisher in the 6 years that the seven London books have been available thru Synergy. We are happy to bring you thi ...more
Hardcover, 148 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by C. Abarca Vasquez (first published 1903)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kathleen
Dec 27, 2012 Kathleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable classic, deserving of a place on the shelf right next to Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. In fact, The People of the Abyss likely inspired Orwell to write his book, according to a biography I read.

If the reader can put aside the fact of London’s strange ambivalence in matters of race, he is an impassioned and articulate spokesman for the underclasses. His account of an extended foray into what he refers to as “Darkest England,” that is, London’s East End, is rivet
...more
Oldroses
Apr 17, 2010 Oldroses rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
What Jacob Riis did for New York City with his photos of tenements, Jack London did for London with his book, The People of the Abyss. The abyss that he referred to was the squalid East End of London, where the poorest of the poor lived and died.

All of the horrors are there, described not by a dispassionate historian keeping a professional distance in his reporting, but in eyewitness accounts of and interviews with people living in appalling conditions.

What I found most horrifying about this bo
...more
Isil
Apr 09, 2009 Isil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: litterature, xxe, usa, document
1902. Victoria vient de mourir et l'Angleterre prépare le couronnement de son successeur. London, jeune journaliste américain se fait passer pour un marin en rupture de ban pour pouvoir s’immerger totalement dans les bas-fonds de l’est londonien et vit comme ses habitants. Le Royaume-Uni est alors un grand Empire et une réussite économique incontestable. Pourtant un adulte sur quatre à Londres meurt dans un hospice ou à l’asile. Selon Jack London, 939 habitants sur 1000 finissaient indigents en ...more
Elliot Ratzman
Aug 27, 2012 Elliot Ratzman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elliot by: Mark Engler
Before Jack London was the world famous adventure story writer—in his 20s and 30s—he had lived a dozen lives: child laborer, thief, sailor, failed Klondike prospector and hobo. A committed socialist, and hard-charging risk-taker, he turned to writing in his early 20s after nearly dying in an Arctic winter, and this 1903 book was his second major publication, just after Call of the Wild. London disguises himself as a homeless American sailor trapped in England. He explores (the city of) London’s ...more
Matt

If civilization has increased the producing power of the average man, why has it not bettered the lot of the average man? There can be one answer only — MISMANAGEMENT.

Jack London's first-hand account of the People of the Abyss is not fictional. It is direly real. In the summer of 1902 London (the author) went to London (the city) to witness the "life" of the people in London's East End, the infamous Whitechapel District, or, what the author called the under-world of London. I have to put the wor
...more
Mark Goodwin
A very intense book. The way the author describes the horrid conditions of East London (around 1900) will make you really grateful for your present situation in life (no matter what it might be). It is amazing and very difficult to believe that so many (as in thousands upon thousands) of people lived in such desperate and despicable conditions yet this was the case. Jack London voluntarily put himself in this situation to learn what life was like for the wretched. Luckily for him, he had a refug ...more
Ella Belakovska
Dec 14, 2013 Ella Belakovska rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very few people seem to have heard of Jack London these days, and I was only vaguely aware of him, which is a real shame because he stands right up there with the likes of George Orwell - who I've only just discovered was inspired by this very work to write his own 'Down and Out in Paris and London'.

Jack London was an American writer who chose to go undercover in the East End of London (much to the outrage and fear of his friends) and journalise his research. The resulting work is a fascinating
...more
LeeAnn Heringer
I read this as a companion piece to "Wolf", the recent biography of Jack London. He was a lifelong socialist and this was a subject he was passionate about. This was the dark underbelly of the gilted age. And because of unions and the socialist party, we have minimum wage, social security, and welfare to provide a safety net for the kind of problems Jack London explores in this book.

But I am a poor revolutionary (and I think Jack London was too). 100 years later, people are still being chewed up
...more
Diane S ⛄
For six weeks Jack London dresses and attempts to live like the poor on London's east side. He quickly realizes that no matter how hard a man or woman works, the cards are stacked against them. I'm sure this had a greater impact when read during the time it was written, when bringing the poverty and disease of these people to the public's attention would have been an impetus to change. Interesting and this was a side of London I had not previously been acquainted with.
Mimi
Dec 28, 2014 Mimi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book was able to break my heart several times :( i literaly cried at the suffering of people

i don't regret reading this, for i feel it had changed my perspective towards life and people .
Daniel Villines
Oct 27, 2015 Daniel Villines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My present political position in life is one that has evolved through time. I was a young Republican in my early adult life and then began to observe how our first-world society works and more importantly, read about how it used to be. Books such as The Jungle, Sister Carry, and Martin Eden defined for me the societal conditions that existed when the free market was allowed to shape society under near laissez-faire conditions. By looking at life as it is depicted in these books I was able to dev ...more
Cassie
Jan 07, 2009 Cassie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the same vein as Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London, but lacking the heart and humor that I associate with Orwell's treatment. To be fair, it's an autobiographical account of slumming it in the worst of England's poverty at the turn of the century: why should it be funny or heartwarming? However, when you compare this text with Orwell's, it reads much more like something you'd find in Rolling Stone. A shock piece intended to wake people up and make them realize the horrors of poverty. ...more
Masoud Niazi
تیره بختان جامعه -جک لندن
قسمت اول داستان بسیار بیشتر از قسمت دوم برای من جذاب بود شرح وقایق و گزارش نویسی قسمت اول رو دوست داشتم
درواقع تیره بختان جامعه شرح سفر تحقیقاتی جک لندن به منطقه فقیر نشین شرح لندن در لباس مبدل است. او برای اینکه تجربه دست اولی از زندگی فقیرانه طبقه زیردست انگلیس به دست بیاورد خود را به جای یک بی خانمان جا می زند و چند روزی را با بی خانمان ها و فقرای لندن می گذراند. گزارشی که او از این زندگی نکبت بار ارائه می دهد دادنامه ای بر علیه جامعه سرمایه سالار آن دوران است. البته
...more
Pamela Wile
Mar 07, 2011 Pamela Wile rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was a little hard to get through the early 20th century style of writing but this book made an impact on me. My great-grandfather, Charles Henry Smith, arrived in Canada in 1889 at the age of 18 and I wondered what life was like in England when he was a boy. This book was first published in 1903 so 14 years later, so I imagine circumstances were pretty much the same. The conditions that the elderly, sick, out of work adults endured were deplorable. The despair they felt a ...more
Marie-aimée
Nov 07, 2013 Marie-aimée rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ceci n'est pas un roman mais une enquête sociologique menée par Jack London dans le quartier le plus pauvre de Londres. C'est un véritable effort de recherche, il va s'habiller comme ses habitants, parler comme eux, vivre dans les asiles et s'astreindre le plus possible à une vie semblable. C'est par cette expérience éprouvante qu'il livre d'une part des données économiques, sociales et culturelles, mais aussi politique comme par exemple lorsqu'il dénonce la loi qui empêche les SDF de dormir dan ...more
Tony
THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS. (1903). Jack London. ***.
London spent six weeks during the summer of 1902 penetrating the bowels of London’s East End – in those days, the home of the have-nots. He went is disguise, dressing in the same kinds of shabby clothes and living under the same conditions. His task was to document how the other half lived – poverty and shame being the primary characteristics. London was in his early days of Socialism, and wanted to bring the conditions of London’s poor to the a
...more
Owen
Jan 17, 2013 Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about what Bulwer-Lytton famously called the "great unwashed," referring to the lower classes in English society in the 19th century. London confirms that not only are they still unwashed at the turn of the century (a bare 112 years ago), but that the situation is unbelievably tragic and applies to hundreds of thousands if not several million English men and women and their offspring. He has no hesitation in ascribing the fault to criminal mismanagement by the elites of the time ...more
Karli
Feb 13, 2015 Karli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-lit
I'm an American. I'm middle class and in my neighborhood there are people who are not. It helps to remind me just how lucky I am. It's not always fun or safe. However, there isn't a sense that I'm not awake to what is happening to people in my country who aren't me.

Jack London has made a dramatic call to arms in this book. It's an emotional tale and he doesn't always hold to the same standards that I would expect from a modern day journalist. Still, this book is a keen reminder of how the Britis
...more
Pat
Jan 22, 2010 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Way more ballsy than Barbara Ehrenreich, way less ballsy than George Orwell. He doesn't get caught up in this wishy-washy just-the-facts objectivity thing that's making the rounds. He gets mad, and that goes into the book. He's a socialist and that goes into the book. Of course, he also left himself an escape hatch which he uses constantly. His stories are basically, after decompressing, he goes back under for a visit to a spike, or a lodging house or a trip around town after dark and runs back ...more
Naomi
Oct 05, 2011 Naomi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book which was basically a sociological investigation of the Whitechapel area of London, while London lived there in the late 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, and how it was possible for Jack the Ripper to commit his crimes. Totally different from anything I have read by Jack London, but worth the read.
Nanou
May 28, 2015 Nanou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
En 1902, Jack London séjourne à Londres, afin d’explorer les bas-fonds londoniens et le quartier d’East End. Afin de vivre l’expérience par lui-même plutôt que de rapporter les propos des autres, il se déguise en clochard et s’intègre à la population locale, tentant de comprendre les rouages d’une société de misère au sein d’un Empire florissant.

C’est un constat terrible qui est dressé dans ce récit. Jack London montre comment les pauvres de l’East End n’ont aucune chance de sortir de l’enfer, d
...more
Alina
Feb 15, 2011 Alina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Jack London swoops from overseas to gawp at the zoo exhibits. He has a fine time at first, overjoyed at being mistaken for a local when his fancy dress costume works. What a transformation, he chortles, seeing himself in the pawnshop's mirror! People in the street call him 'mate' instead of Guv'na now. He is at one with the people, where it may be cold outside but it is warm in their collective hearts. It's not all fun and games, though. Being homeless soon reveals its ugly underbelly and off he ...more
wally
Jul 28, 2011 wally rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: london


done.

interesting....um, tale. Or reporting. What happened I wonder, did Jack London have some time on his hands? And how did he get time on his hands? Out here on the perimeter, I have no time on my hands, unless it be time to ponder what the hail is happening...

So like the first 50% of this story is...that...story. London, or another anonymous narrator in the east end of London where life is hard, people live stacked like sardines, die young, etc etc etc.

I was reminded of word from our own decl
...more
Sam
Feb 27, 2013 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jack-london
This masterpiece is right up there with Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. Rather than talk about the future London describes life in the Abyss also known as London's East end in the early 1900. I can't help but feel not very much has changed in London's East end, sure the Olympic park was built there and sure there are rich people, but there are very poor people leading a miserable existence. I would love to read a similar commentary written in this style with a 2012-2013 lens.

The cha
...more
Anna
Nov 01, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'The People of the Abyss' contains Jack London's reporting on London’s appalling poverty in 1902. (This double London will probably make the review confusing, for which I apologise.) Jack London, the American novelist and essayist, explored and experienced the East End and wrote with a great depth of feeling and empathy about what he found there. Thus, I found the book very depressing, as I’d thought that urban poverty had to some extent been alleviated by the turn of the century. Certainly not, ...more
Victor
Nov 08, 2013 Victor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Em inícios do séc XX o aventureiro Jack London decide "brincar aos pobrezinhos" e para isso assume o papel de sem-abrigo na cidade de Londres. Na época, calculavam-se em 35 000 aqueles que vegetavam sem eira nem beira pelas ruas, à procura de uma côdea de pão e de um sítio para dormir... Um relato que nos faz pensar, por comparação, como houve uma incrível evolução (ou não...) social desde esses primórdios do século.

Excerto: "havia também seres disformes e inquietantes, de rostos grotescos e de
...more
Pedro Menchén
Apr 02, 2013 Pedro Menchén rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Admirable trabajo de investigación sobre la terrible situación de los habitantes del East End de Londres en 1902 y, por extensión, de las clases populares británicas de la época. El libro es muy ameno. Hace años que lo tengo y no me había atrevido a leerlo, pensando que sería un texto aburrido, lleno de datos y estadísticas, pero no hay nada de eso. Bueno, sí hay datos estadísticos, pero muy bien dosificados, que sirven al autor para ilustrar su teoría de que "el Imperio no funciona". Pero tambi ...more
Rachel
Mar 08, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
People of the Abyss describes in great detail what it was like to live in the East End of London during the late 19th Century from the viewpoint of an American journalist Jack London. Despite being written nearly 100 years ago the book is very easy to read, I found London a very likable narrator and I particularly enjoyed the chapter where he stayed at a workhouse.

I found it amazing just how much London and the UK has changed so much in the last 100 years with the utter desperation of being hom
...more
Val
Jack London spent time in London living in hostels and cheap lodgings, queueing for handouts, roaming the streets and finding out about working class life. He then wrote this deeply felt and passionately expressed polemic. There had been various reports on conditions of the working poor in the capital. More people probably read this and so it may have helped persuade some middle and upper class, literate people to support and bring about some of the social changes brought about by the Asquith, L ...more
Trounin
Цивилизация! Развитие человечества достигается за счёт разделения людей на социальные классы и угнетения одних другими. Многие века данное положение многих устраивало, пока низы не стали задумываться о своей горькой участи. Раньше человек зависел от способности добыть пропитание для семьи, теперь он зависит от других обстоятельств, где в угол поставлен обмен труда на эквивалент доступных благ. В начале XX века ситуация особенно усугубилась, а общая атмосфера начала накаливаться, что впоследствии ...more
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“But at the best, it is a dull, animal happiness, the content of the full belly. The dominant note of their lives is materialistic. They are stupid and heavy, without imagination. The Abyss seems to exude a stupefying atmosphere of torpor, which wraps about them and deadens them. Religion passes them by. The Unseen holds for them neither terror nor delight. They are unaware of the Unseen; and the full belly and the evening pipe, with their regular “arf an’ arf,” is all they demand, or dream of demanding, from existence.” 4 likes
“Class supremacy can rest only on class degradation” 3 likes
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