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The Jungle

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  138,223 ratings  ·  6,587 reviews
For nearly a century, the original version of Upton Sinclair's classic novel has remained almost entirely unknown.

When it was published in serial form in 1905, it was a full third longer than the censored, commercial edition published in book form the following year. That expurgated commercial edition edited out much of the ethnic flavor of the original, as well as some o
Paperback, The Uncensored Original Edition, 335 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by See Sharp Press (first published February 25th 1905)
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Robert Isenberg
Nov 12, 2008 rated it liked it
Naturally, my high school English teacher felt it necessary to assign "The Jungle" to read over Thanksgiving break. As my Dad carved the turkey, the conversation went something like this:

MOM: Could you pass the turkey?

ME: Oh, yeah, great, why don't we pass the meat that untold numbers of Slavik immigrants had to die to process? Why don't we just spit in the face of the proleteriat and laugh, knowing that he's too malnourished to fight back.

DAD: Are you okay?

ME: Oh, sure, I'm great. And you know
Jun 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Whenever I've asked someone if they have read The Jungle, and if they have not read it, they always respond, "isn't that about the meat packing industry?". I think that response is exactly what the author was trying to point out is wrong with his society at the time.
It is true that the main character of the book at one point goes to work in a meat packing plant, and its disgusting, and when the book was published apparently the FDA was created as a result, or something. The problem is, though,
Ahmad Sharabiani
The jungle, Upton Sinclair

The Jungle is a 1906 novel written by the American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair (1878–1968).

Sinclair wrote the novel to portray the harsh conditions and exploited lives of immigrants in the United States in Chicago and similar industrialized cities.

His primary purpose in describing the meat industry and its working conditions was to advance socialism in the United States.

The Jungle tells the story of Jurgis Rudus, a young immigrant who came to the New World
Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Reading The Jungle will have you wringing your fists Upton Sinclair style.


Right up until I read it, The Jungle was one of those books I'd always heard of, but not heard about. I knew it was important, apparently, because everyone said so, but no one said why. (I guess I should have asked.) From what I gathered, it had something to do with the meat industry and its nefarious doings in the early 20th century, which led me to expect a dry, straight-forward, tell-all non-fiction revealing corruptio
I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.
-Upton Sinclair

The Jungle is best known as the novel that led to the Meat Inspection Act and partially to the creation of the FDA after much public outcry against the unsanitary conditions of food processing and packaging. However, this was not the aim of the book and the unsanitary food was but a mere detail in a novel written to expose the horrific conditions of the working class, from unsafe conditions at work, corrupt f
Roy Lotz
Every day in New York they slaughter
four million ducks
five million pigs
and two thousand doves for the pleasure of the dying,
a million cows
a million lambs
and two million roosters,
that leave the sky in splinters.

—Federico García Lorca

I expected to dislike this book, because it is a book aimed at provoking outrage. Outrage is a species of anger, and, like all species of anger, it can feel oddly pleasurable. True, anger always contains dissatisfaction of some kind; but anger can also be an enormou
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
(written 6-03)

Wow. Now I can see why this book had such a big impression on those who read it in the early twentieth century. Really heart-wrenching (and gut-wrenching) stuff. There's the famous quote that Sinclair said he aimed for the public's heart and hit it in the stomach instead. I guess people didn't care much for the Socialism stuff, but when they learned what exactly their sausage was made of, they got mad.

It was surprising how much Sinclair reminds me of Ayn Rand, especially considerin
Apr 07, 2011 rated it liked it
It's been a while since I read it, but I believe this book features a precocious young boy named Mowgli Rudkus who was raised by wolves. After singing a bunch of songs with bears and orangutans in the jungles of India, Mowgli immigrates to turn-of-the-century Chicago where he lives in abject poverty until he falls into an industrial meat grinder and becomes a hamburger. He is later served to Theodore Roosevelt for Thanksgiving dinner, 1906.

This book also has the distinction of changing America'
May 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Hey, do you want to see some poor schlub get totally wrecked by "the man", be grossed out by the meat industry, and learn about socialism?

Then, this is the book for you!

I had to read it for school and hated every minute of it. I was literally nauseous at times, and depressed the rest.

Yes, it's a classic, but unless you are required to read it, like I was, don't go here. There is nothing but horror and sadness.

One pic to explain the book:
Kater Cheek
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I have a tendency to be easily swayed by arguments, so I asked a well-read friend for an antidote to Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED. She suggested this book. If I ever get that wish where you get to resurrect people and have them at a dinner party, I'm going to have Ayn Rand and Upton Sinclair there together. That would be an awesome cage-fight between the philosophers.

This book has an actual story with actual sympathetic characters. Well, they start out being sympathetic. Jurgis and Ona are a young
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“They use everything about the hog except the squeal.”
― Upton Sinclair, The Jungle


One of the great social/protest novels of the 20th Century. 'The Jungle' is at once an indictment on the treatment of immigrants, poverty, American wage slavery, and the working conditions at Chicago's stockyards and meatpacking plants -- and simultaneously an exposé on the unsanitary conditions of the meat produced in the plants and led to Federal real food reform. Did I like it? Well, it pissed me off, so I thou
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
if i had the words to describe the horror of reading this book, i'd certainly find a way to put them here. this was a physically challenging read, as it took an epic energy even to continue. All the terrors you've ever heard about what you might find in its pages are absolutely true. the weight of it is oppressive. it stinks with the filth of early america, it aches with excruciating poverty and unrelenting suffering, and it drips an inhuman avarice summoned from the darkest reaches of a roiling ...more
Jon Nakapalau
A book that changed laws in America...should be required reading for anyone working towards an MBA. This book truly made a positive change for everyone; the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act. The 1906 Act was passed in response to the public anger over the conditions in the Chicago stockyards that were described in this book. This later lead to the formation of the FDA.
E. G.
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Introduction, by Ronald Gottesman
Suggestions for Further Reading
A Note on the Text

--The Jungle
Paul Ataua
Jun 03, 2022 rated it really liked it
The story of a Lithuanian family that came to The US at the beginning of the twentieth century to start a new life. What they experience is not America’s dream but its nightmare, with conditions that resemble a slavery and a poverty that is inescapable. Powerful, and yet it seems too easy to say how terrible that was and how bad those days were, without recognizing that it has relevance to what is happening today. Good read that one hopes goes beyond just being read.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book in my high school U.S. History class. I was in an "Academic" class because due to scheduling conflicts, I could not be in either "Honors" or "AP". I hated this class. I loved the teacher, but at one point the a student stopped class to ask what the difference between the U.S.S.R. and Russia was. I spent almost every class period simultaneously wanting to kill everyone and go get coffee with the teacher, but I never spoke out loud. (Incidentally, he told me I would like co ...more
Even teachers get things wrong. I remember throughout middle school and high school learning about The Jungle as the book intended to expose the American meatpacking industry. And while it did to that, Upton Sinclair's mission - which I discussed quite a bit in my Social Protest Literature course - centered more on exposing the evils of capitalism. The public's reception of The Jungle exemplifies the doctrine of unintended consequences, as Sinclair himself writes "I aimed at the public's heart, ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It is impossible for me to review this without appearing to be pissy. The work itself is barely literary. The Jungle explores and illustrates the conditions of the meatpacking industry. Its presence stirred outcry which led to much needed reforms. Despite the heroics of tackling the Beef Trust, Upton Sinclair saw little need in the actual artful. The protagonist exists only to conjoin the various pieces of reportage. There isn't much emotional depth afforded, the characters' motivations often ap ...more
Somehow I never read this before, but I've heard it was a classic - not just a classic, but one that drove Theodore Roosevelt into attempting to clean up the mess of the Chicago stock yards & eventually led to public exposure & the FDA.

Sinclair wasn't happy with the response & I can see why. About halfway through, I've found the ills of the meat packing industry to be very much a secondary issue for Sinclair. They're awful, but it's obvious that his first
As the animals are driven up the ramp into the slaughter house, killed, butchered and processed down to the last scraps of bone and hoof so too an immigrant family will be cozened, cheated, see their dreams shattered and families broken up. It is one of a number of novels in which the slaughter house is both a metaphor for modern society and foreshadows the fate of the characters, which I suppose is appropriate in that the Chicago slaughterhouse, in which the incoming beasts were de-constructed ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Oct 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a graphic look into the world of meat and it may have been the original Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, but that just isn't what I am looking for in a book. ...more
The story of Jurgis and his family who came from Lithuania to work in the slaughterhouses of Chicago in the early 20th century.

Doing some preparatory research for his novel, writer Upton Sinclair has spent some time as a worker in Packingtown, Chicago. This novel exposes the appalling living conditions migrants faced once they settled : exploited like cattle by a full-blown cartel that brings together industrialists, real estate developers, bar owners, transport companies, state officials, poli
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it

There’s an interesting introduction into the world of this Lithuanian community of Chicago. The main scene being the marriage of 16-year-old, blue-eyed Ona, running into tears often, …with Jurgis, a much older man.

Special attention has been given to the description of the characters dancing or just chatting over the table; but center-stage remains the trio-band (moving, sometimes, over the room!): Tamoszius, the 5-feet leader, the violin player, supported by another violin, of a Slovak man,
Clif Hostetler
Mar 29, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This classic novel follows the life of a young man who immigrated to the United States and settles in Chicago during the early twentieth century together with his extended family made up of his fiancée and future in-laws. They're ambitious and hard workers, but due to a combination of predatory house financing, draconian working conditions, and corrupt business/governmental powers their situation deteriorates to the point of economic and social devastation—(i.e loss of their house and death of h ...more

This book was included in “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.”

I own the 2006 edition of “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die.” Peter Boxall is the general editor and the preface was written by Peter Ackroyd. This book has compiled 1001 recommended books, primarily novels which were selected by over 100 contributors (literary critics, professors of literature, etc.). For each recommended book there is information on the author and a short blurb about the book.

I use "1001 Books Yo
Leah W
Jul 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Things not to do:
-tug on Superman's cape
-spit in the wind
-discuss The Jungle extensively in your junior year literature class directly before lunchtime on hot dog day
-mess around with Jim

I still don't eat hot dogs. And I ate hot dogs up until then, despite having uncles who worked at the hot dog factory that weren't the most finger-rich of individuals.

Re-read in 2005 for Gapers Block book club.
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write reports on whether or not they deserve the label

Essay #64: The Jungle (1906), by Upton Sinclair

The story in a nutshell:
(Much of today's plot recap was cribbed from Wikipedia, for reasons that will become clearer be
With a hundred years of hindsight, we've learned so little.

Chicken processing plant

Waste lagoon

The 1%

Upton Sinclair's The Jungle is famous for disgusting America with its tales of meat packing workers falling into vats and rendered into lard, and all the things that went into sausages and tinned beef. (Cigar butts and poisoned rats not even being the most disgusting ingredients...) But as Sinclair said about his most famous book, "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach." The Jungle is not primarily about
I found the first half of the book better than the last half. It turns into a tract proselytizing socialism. Upton Sinclair has a message to deliver. The message is loud and clear.

The first half focuses upon an immigrant family from Lithuania. Twelve people - six kids and six adults, two of whom get married. These two are Jurgis and Ona. The central protagonist is Jurgis. We follow him from the beginning of the book to the end. We watch Jurgis and Ona and the other six adults in their struggle
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
What a disservice that this book is mostly read and remembered as a mere historical reference and expose on socialism and the meat-packing industry! The final four chapters which lapse into doctrine, preaching, and recruitment don't help any in casting off the label, but otherwise the book goes well beyond the Socialist politics which motivated Sinclair to write it. The first three hundred pages focus on hardened descriptions of the physical and emotional tragedy of working class immigrants losi ...more
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50 books to read ...: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair 6 34 Feb 01, 2019 12:36PM  
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Upton Beall Sinclair, Jr. was an American author who wrote close to one hundred books in many genres. He achieved popularity in the first half of the twentieth century, acquiring particular fame for his classic muckraking novel, The Jungle (1906). To gather information for the novel, Sinclair spent seven weeks undercover working in the meat packing plants of Chicago. These direct experiences expos ...more

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121 likes · 17 comments
“They use everything about the hog except the squeal.” 71 likes
“The rich people not only had all the money, they had all the chance to get more; they had all the know-ledge and the power, and so the poor man was down, and he had to stay down.” 50 likes
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