Shovelmonkey1's Reviews > 1984

1984 by George Orwell
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's review
Nov 30, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: 1001-books, dystopian-lit
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: ross-troll and the 1001 books list
Recommended for: anyone with obsessive paranoid tendancies
Read in January, 2009 , read count: 2

Oooh Big Brother is everywhere. Actually, for a while in the UK that was true, but then they banned the stupid show and the air waves were temporarily safe from the tedious monotone gurnings of fame-hungy wannabes who paraded around in skimpy Primarni clothing attempting to "win the heart of the nation". I say temporarily safe because obviously the fame hungry overspill could not be contained (not a big enough lead lined bunker into which to chuck said fame-hungry f*ck wits) and so The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea were born. Anyway, I digress....

In Orwell's 1984 Big Brother really is watching you and this time, there are no bikinis or Primarni towelling jumpsuits in sight. A bleak view of the future where the nanny state has well and truly gone rogue. Freedom of speech? Independence of thought? Tut, tut, don't be silly. Big Brother knows best. Orwell presented us with a view of an oligarchical society with a three-fold social class system. Some of this rings true today, especially in Europe where peoples sensitivities towards class and economic divide have been heightened by the austerity measures currently being put into place for example in the UK it could be said that;

The Inner Party =David Cameron and his rogue school of braying public school elites
The Outer Party = Nick Clegg and his well meaning but easily led and ineffectual gang
The Proles = you me and anyone else you know with diminishing social prospects and fast-emptying pockets.

On a more personal note I was working in the Middle East (Post 9/11) and living about 1km from the Israeli border when I read this book for the second time. As part of a largely American team of professionals, our building was guarded/spied on round the clock by a none too inconspicuous group of secret police who watched our every move, followed us around, infiltrated our team and reported on our every move.

FYI should you ever visit Jordan the secret police can be identified by their identical suits, shoes and sunglasses with matching improbably large guns in shoulder holsters. They also talk into their sleeves in unsubtle ways... a lot.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Owen This book is an important read as we are 10 years into the same conflict. Orwell wrote it in the face of the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about, but it is every bit as poignant here (as is Starship Troopers, I contend). War is peace. Work is freedom. We have always been at war with X.

There is often talk in the US about Big Brother, and admittedly, we have some disturbing tendencies- read Bamford's book about the NSA reading everything you do on the internet and you'll see what I mean. However, Britain both has and uses closed circuit television far more than we do. Their near-ubiquitous deployment has made them another method of law enforcement. Also, for all of the ill-informed, over-privileged American leftists who think all of Europe's states to be imitated, American civil liberties, however seemingly damaged during the Bush administration (and not changed under this President, either) far outstrip most of what we consider 'Western Europe.' Now, step outside our borders, and you are never safe from us (and the international legal implications of such actions are a different debate). But in America, you will be accorded due process.

Astonishingly, this might not even be Orwell's best book- Homage to Catalonia was the most poignant war memoir I've ever read, and my second favorite non-fiction book ever. Also, the 'Some are more equal than others' line from Animal Farm is my favorite Orwell quote.

Shovelmonkey1 Hi Owen thanks for your comments. They were far superior to my review in terms of academic content! I have only read this book, animal farm and a collection of Orwells essays but intend to get to all of his work eventually. Will definitely get a copy of Catalonia soon.

Owen Thanks. I've been reading your reviews and am happy to finally have managed to read one of the same books. You are a prolific reader (or at the very least, reviewer)

Shovelmonkey1 Ha! Thanks Owen, and thanks for reading my reviews. Some of them are serious and some of them are just a sort of endless outpouring of my mind onto paper (but not in the scary way like Kevin Spacey in Se7en). I can confirm that I have read all the books I've reviewed here. I have a backlog list of books which I've read and not listed here and reviewed so every week I try to add one or two more.

Cecily Wow, reading it in the circumstances you describe must have made it all the more powerful. (And thanks for the tips about spotting Jordanian security.)

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