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Orwell on Truth

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  515 ratings  ·  88 reviews
A selection of George Orwell's prescient, clear-eyed and stimulating writing on the subjects of truth and lies. With an introduction by Alan Johnson.

'Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two equals four. If that is granted, all else follows.'

This selection of George Orwell’s writing, from both his novels and non-fiction, gathers together his thoughts on the subj
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published November 23rd 2017 by Harvill Secker (first published 2017)
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Adam Ford
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this. It's a collection of extracts from various books and essays over the years, mainly themed around freedom of intellect and speech. I'm a huge Orwell fan so a lot of this wasn't new to me, but it's a great condensation of the key points he made. I believe very few understood, or indeed, understand politics to the extent of George Orwell, specifically the threats of fascism and totalitarianism.

I'd recommend this to any Orwell fans, as well as newcomers who haven't got time to
Asma Riaz
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
"You cannot stop your brain developing, and it is one of the tragedies of the half-educated that they develop late, when they are already committed to some wrong way of life."

I wish I could write sentences like Orwell's. Even amongst the writers, he knows how to write. His usage of words, construction of sentences, vocabulary, grammar- everything is excellent.

As the title indicates, this is a collection of Orwell's writing, from both his novels and non-fiction, on the subject of truth. Absolutel
A Reader
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays

What would Orwell make of the world today? While I was reading Orwell: On Truth, this question was constantly on my mind. If he were alive today, Orwell would be writing, about injustice, inequality, racism, fake news, and populism.

Today, Orwell is everywhere. In the digital propaganda of the Russian government, in the fake news and the ‘alternative facts’ of Trump’s White House, in Westminster politics. Sixty years after its publication, Nineteen Eighty-Four remains the greatest fictional demol
Richard Newton
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
I’m not quite sure what to make if this anthology of Orwell’s writing. I was given two - one titled Freedom and this One titled Truth. This is the better of the two. There are some interesting pieces and they show Orwell’s brilliance. It has also a nice introduction by Alan Johnson.

But, and this is a big but for me, I can’t help feeling that if you really like Orwell you would read the original books rather than these anthologies made up of excerpts, mixing bits of his journalism, parts from hi
James Smith
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the most important books I’ve read in years. Frightening at times with how little we have moved on in the last 60 years. As well as helping to show the motivation behind his novels, the non-fiction extracts also help to square off the world of modern politics too. Everyone should read this!
“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden.

For the people who don't know and don't want to read all the works of George Orwell, this is the very least you can do. This book is the collective appendage of enlightening, goosepumping excerpts from his works notably from 1984, Animal Farm, Burmese Days, The Road to Wigan Pier, Coming up for air, critical reviews from Tribune and other daily papers, Inquisitive Essays in search for the truth.

"By declining
Alexander Velasquez
The only part that I didn't like was the horrible introduction. With all due respect, I didn't buy the book to know Adam Hochschild's left-wing opinion of President Trump; I could've picked up the Huffington Post if I wanted that. But, beside Hochschild using Orwell's name to insert his political views on readers who wouldn't care for it in the first place, this is a flawless set of excerpts.
Emilia Ann
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow. This book was amazing. Orwell was so ahead of his time. Or maybe he was exactly in his time and the fact that his writing is still applicable should be concerning. Everything he wrote on has such relevance to today. If anything, we've only increased in the things he was warning against. If you want a thought provoking and insightful read I highly recommend this.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellently-curated compilation of Orwell's most prescient and enduring comments on the use and misuse of Truth by governments, media, and varying ilk of charlatans. I expect that if one hasn't read much Orwell, this would be an excellent introduction to sparking interest in his works beyond Animal Farm and 1984. As I read the excerpts, I found myself getting more and more depressed at the current state of affairs, particularly the U.S. I felt that there will be no meaningful reversal of the ...more
Maria Novella
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Orwell on Truth" is a selection of Orwell's work discussing the subject of truth.
I had already read 1984 and Animal Farm, and I have always appreciated Orwell's style: direct, captivating.
This selection is very well introduced by Adam Hochschild, who wonders how Orwell would have reacted seeing this present, this world, and at the same time it is easy to understand reading this selection how the world Orwell had described in novels such as 1984 is not a dystopia anymore. It is a reality. What i
tortoise dreams
A short collection of commentaries on truth by the author of 1984 and Animal Farm.

Book Review: Orwell on Truth is a small, odd book, but no less interesting and valuable for that. This volume was deliberately gathered to address our "alternative facts" and "fake news" era, or should I just say misinformation, propaganda, and lies? Sadly, Orwell's thoughts are equally on point now as when they were originally written in response to Nazism and Stalinism. One of history's passionately committed wri
Keith Lord
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great, great book. Reading this book it brought to mind that even 70 years later most everything he says still holds true today. From leaders telling lies to the media being owned by a few rich self interested men many things haven't changed. But it does give me a little hope that as bad as things may be we've survived this in the past and can again.
Mandisa Mpulo
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
At first, I thought the book was no more than the title suggests; a short collection of Orwell's most salient writing on the subject of Truth. It turned out to be a wonderful insight into the maturation of his thoughts on the subject, culminating in the book that became an Amazon bestseller upon Donald Trump's inauguration. It also provided insight into the work of writing and critique - Orwell's philosophy, followed by excerpts of texts that strengthen the archive of political writing. It's pun ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The evident connection between personal unhappiness and readiness to believe the incredible is its most interesting discovery.

Whoever feels the value of literature, whoever sees the central part it plays in the development of human history, must also see the life and death necessity of resisting totalitarianism, whether it is imposed on us from without or from within.

The truth, it is felt, becomes untruth when your enemy utters it.

The general uncertainty as to what is really happening makes it e
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love Orwell, and this book is a great entry point for those looking to get into his essays and understand his feelings about truth, politics, and the fight against totalitarian governments, but one should know that this is simply a series of excerpts from longer essays and novels, and some of the excerpts do sometimes veer away ever so slightly from the topic at hand, but it's still interesting to see the parallels between what Orwell warned us about in the 30s/40s and what we're experiencing ...more
David Mytton
Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good reminder that Orwell was significantly more than 1984 and Animal Farm. His other writing from over 50 years ago could easily have been written about politics and society today. Either that shows that nothing changes or that we're always in some kind of crisis. Maybe both!

Probably the most relevant passage for me was:

The chief danger to freedom of thought and speech at this moment is not the direct interference of the [Ministry of Information] or any official body. If publishers and editor
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book containing a list of short pieces on the topic of truth from Orwell's writings. Each piece reminds us of what mind Orwell such a great writer: his ability to hone in on the truth like a laser (in a way few are able to), and the courage to come out and say it despite the consequences. Here, he discusses a wide variety of topics: the media and their cowardice, imperialistic attitudes of the British, the tribalistic nature of societies, and so on. This book is the perfect antidote ...more
May 04, 2020 rated it liked it
A pretty good book. After reading Popper's The Open Society and its Enemies, I can really see the similarity, not just in terms of how truth is warped, but also in how Orwell briefly describes nationalism and its romantic vagueness.
But this book probably shouldn't be read for great enlightenment on the nature of Truth, but rather as the growth of Orwell's ideas. The book ends with sections from 1984, and to see Orwell's ideas evolve through the years was amazing to read. This is a book best read
Brandon Forsyth
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A collection of little-known essays and extracts of weekly columns, along with passages out of the author's better-known works, this book has so many brilliant, keenly-observed pieces of insight that it is genuinely eerie that many of them were written over 70 years ago (and not, say, last week). I can't recommend this enough, and I think I need to read more Orwell before the year is out.
Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
I normally hate things made entirely of excerpts, but this is an exception. Lots of pieces I’d never read/heard of as well as a few familiar passages from Animal Farm and 1984...eerily/terrifyingly relevant
Steve Gillway
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: collection
A great book of snippets from the great man. Ideal to dip into on the bus. There's always something relevant to today
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A book that is more relevant than ever in today's current political climate, I was very surprised with the amount of parallels that can be drawn from the excerpts of Orwell's previous works in the first half of the 20th century as highlighted in this book. Orwell was able to observe society with amazing clarity and he wonderfully guides the reader through his critical thinking process.
Ben G
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learning
I happened across 'Burway Books' again whilst visting Church Stretton (I was at school here in the eighties - great to see an independent bookseller still thriving!) and couldn't resist this little gem.

My motivation for reading this slim tome is (and maybe it's my imagination) I'm increasingly led to believe that serious debate of any kind is being reduced to a series of headlines without any exploration of the underlying issues, causes or indeed rationale for 'exposing' the said 'newsworthy' i
Matt Comito
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
This collection of essays and radio commentary from WW2 makes me terrifically sad and not a little bit scared. So canny on the subject of Fascism and the mechanisms with which it exists and extends itself and so familiar to our moment, this is a bracing book.
Tess Huelskamp
I found a coffee table book that I actually liked! :)

A collection of George Orwell's most impactful excerpts on truth. The editors did a good job selecting excerpts that were cohesive and diverse.
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orwell was an absolute genius at just seeing things clearly. A truth is a truth, no matter what side of the divide you are on. And this is more poignant today than ever. When Republicans see non-truths in things because its Republican and when Democrats do the same. When Christians do the same, when group X or Gender Y or Party B or Country C does Atrocity/Stupid Action/Mistake/Scandal those in said grouping ignore it, but then when the other party/country/gender/grouping/religion/etc. does the ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
I was not sure if I wanted to dive into the writings of George Orwell’s, thus I found this book with excerpts from his writings that is somewhat bound to the theme of truth. This is; a defense of free speech, polemics against totalitarianism on both(communism and fascism) sides, explaining why and how propaganda is wrong etc. In all, it began slowly but then I found that the words flowed very nicely. Orwell was a good writer that is quite easy to read, but it is mostly on current issues and from ...more
Catharina Kremer
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
It took me a couple of chapters to get used to this book as it is a collection of various articles, books, letters or critical reviews by George Orwell. The introduction definitely helped as it gave me the basic background information about his life which is key when reading this book as I did not know anything about him prior to picking up this book. In fact, it helps tremendously if you are well-versed in the political ideologies and societal circumstances of the 1910s till 1950s. In particula ...more
Linda Brunner
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essays, some of which are dated but oh so relevant to humanity's present. For instance:

"By 'Nationalism' I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled 'good' or 'bad'. But secondly-and this is much more important-I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of
Cory Mason
Mar 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of quotations from Orwell's assorted writings. It doesn't offer anything new, but it's convenient to have a portion of the man's thoughts on an important subject, which he was clearly very passionate about, all gathered in one volume.

This book also serves almost as a kind of biography, thanks to the nonfiction/essays it collects, not just excerpts from novels. I learned a lot about the man, which helped me understand the origins of the beliefs that would generate several pow
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

In addition to his literary career Orwell served as a police officer with the Indian Imperial

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