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The Iron Heel by Jack London
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Jul 30, 12

Read from July 25 to 30, 2012

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 good taste to not run over 1,000 pages. Another of London’s works, the short story “The Mexican” takes this stance as well, deeply sympathetic to socialist causes and centers around romantic heroism of its champions. One aspect of the Iron Heel that was amazing, and truly prophetic was London’s uncanny ability to forecast power plays of government, especially the rise of Hitler’s Germany, some thirty years after the release of The Iron Heel. Social and political critics of modern day capitalism could also look to this 1908 publication to show how the rich get richer and labor unions have been bought out and find themselves underpowered to react.

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