Very moving. I started out reading in paperback but found that after some years I was still mired in the Introduction. Having recently found OverdriveVery moving. I started out reading in paperback but found that after some years I was still mired in the Introduction. Having recently found Overdrive I discovered my library had it on MP3. Even at switching, I had to check it out twice.
At times very grim as the life of people on the floor of the meatpacking plants must have been. This book helped to get the meatpacking business investigated and changes were made.
While trying to find my correct edition (either MP3 or paperback) I discovered that there is an unexpurgated version with 36 chapters and the ones I had with only 31 chapters. This was originally serialized in the newspaper. And if this one has been toned down the original edition, as read in the papers, must have been quite something. This was graphic enough, at least for me.
I felt badly for Jurgis, not for what happened to him but because he never seemed to learn his lesson. He is continually being taught the same lesson over and over again. It did make me realize just how difficult life is for the fresh immigrant who doesn't speak the language or know how things work in the new land.
This is primarily an expose on Chicago (and probably other major cities) and the various industries connected with the city. In Chicago's case, that included the stock yards and the meatpacking plants, the steel industry, the railroad. These are the jobs open to fresh immigrants. And, of course, there are a couple of other industries open to women, not all of them legal.
I can recall being over by the stockyards in their waning days in the late '60s and could not believe that people could live with the air smelling that way. It was similar for when we would drive past the steel mills in the late '50s. We would have to close the windows because it smelled so bad. I guess we were lucky to live on the other side of town. But the people who live there apparently get used to the smell. Or possibly just don't notice it quite so much.
I had to laugh when an inebriated gent decided to take Jurgis home with him to his mansion on Lake Shore Drive (they are mostly gone now). Jurgis has never seen anything like this and is in total awe. He is offered food he has no idea how to eat, let alone what they are.
In listening to this book I was struck with the socialist speaker and that Jurgis was just the kind of sucker waiting to be hit by this spellbinder.
I think I probably will still read my paperback copy, if only to see whether I would have been struck the same way by reading as I was by listening....more