Lyn's Reviews > The Iron Heel

The Iron Heel by Jack London
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Mar 03, 2016

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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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02/15 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Stuart (new)

Stuart This would certainly be interesting to compare with Yevgeny Zamyatin's We (1924), H.G. Wells' The Sleeper Awakes (1910), Brave New World (1932) and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). Everyone had different and passionate views on fascism, socialist, capitalism, and industrialization, and you get the feeling that moderns politics has gotten far less idealistic than back then, when a victor had not yet been determined.


message 2: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn Thanks for the comment Stuart and good point. Modern politics are just that, whereas I think back then it was ideology. Of course, my views must be discounted as cynical as I am


message 3: by Stuart (new)

Stuart Yep, ideology is something people used to live and die for, but when's the last time you met anyone willing to live or die for politics. Maybe it's a good thing?

On an unrelated note, having read the bios of some old authors to write reviews, such as Yevgeny Zamyatin, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell, they lead very exciting lives, but two also died around 50, so apparently exciting is not good for longevity. Can't imagine most authors these days go what they went through.


message 4: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn Good points all, we are living in a watered down version of what once was


message 5: by Denis (new)

Denis It so happens that I have "The Star Rover" on my coffee table right now as I read your review. London is an author that I have not yet read and am looking forward to discover. I now believe, after reading your review, that I ought to begin with "The Iron Heel" before getting into "Rover".


message 6: by Lyn (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lyn I have not read Star Rover, thanks for letting me know about it


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