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The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's "1984"

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  563 ratings  ·  117 reviews
The author has written a study that places George Orwell's 1984 in a variety of contexts: the author's life and times, the book's precursors in the science fiction genre, and its subsequent place in popular culture. Lynskey delves into how Orwell's harrowing Spanish Civil War experiences shaped his concern with political disinformation by exposing him to the deceptiveness ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by Doubleday Books
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Don I agree with Thorkell. If you have not read 1984, do so before reading The Ministry of Truth. If you have already done so, then there is no need (in m…moreI agree with Thorkell. If you have not read 1984, do so before reading The Ministry of Truth. If you have already done so, then there is no need (in my view) to do so again, although you may wish to re-read it afterwards (as I did). (less)

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May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
In January 2017, Sean Spicer claimed that the crowd gathered to see President Trump take the oath of office was the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration." When accused of misrepresentation Kellyanne Conway said her statement was "alternative facts." Over the following four days, sales of George Orwell's novel 1984 rocketed to number one bestseller.

Dorian Lynskey writes that more people know about 1984 than know 1984. It's catchphrases have entered the common language. Big Brother. D
Mikey B.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is about the making and repercussions of the book 1984 (also known as Nineteen-Eighty-Four). It is divided in two sections: Orwell’s life and how he came to write 1984 – and the impact and durability of 1984 since its’ publication in 1949.

Orwell died of complications from tuberculosis in 1950, he survived 1984’s release by only 227 days (page 186, my book). 1984 was a long work in the making and Orwell was scrupulous about editing his writing. He eliminated portions of his work that he felt
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love books about books and so this, the biography of George Orwell’s most famous novel, “1984,” was a must read for me. This is split into two main sections; the first dealing with Orwell’s writing of the novel and the second part looking at the impact of the book.

If you are looking for a biography of George Orwell, this is not really the book for you. Although it covers part of his life, which mainly deals with the period where he was either considering writing, or actually working on, “1984,
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
I discuss this book in my video covering round 1 of the 2020 Booktube prize here: ...more
Jun 24, 2019 marked it as not-for-me
Decided very quickly this was not a book for me. I did not complete it. Tried it in June 2019.

I am not a fan of either dystopian or utopian novels! There is a lot of name dropping of authors and titles that do not interest me. I wanted it to be about Orwell, but it isn't. The superficial way it covered his time in Spain, put me off immediately. Never does it say clearly how Orwell's experiences in the Spanish Civil War directly influenced his writing.

I find the writing long-winded.

It seems to m
Richard Luck
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've a thousand and one things I'd like to say about The Ministry Of Truth. However, for the time being, I'll limit myself to this - if I had written this book, I think I would've died of pride.
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
1984 is huge these days of rising authoritarianism and surveillance states undreamt of in Orwell's work. How does this short novel written by a dying man on the island of Jura in 1948 become such a touchstone for 70 years following its publication? This book documents Orwell's life experience and reading sources that went into this timely work. From his experience of British working class that pulled him towards socialism and his experience in Spain and the betrayal of its cause by the Soviets f ...more
Luke Gardiner
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dorian Lynskey has written one of the greatest and most compelling biographies possible in this book, and it is not even about a person! However, the first part, with its emphasis on the life of George Orwell, is a brilliant biography in itself. Lynskey brilliantly brings the man to life, with all his foibles and character, in a way that perfectly helps the reader understand how 1984 became the masterpiece that it is. The latter section also does a fantastic job of illustrating how Orwells death ...more
Peter Beck
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
“The Ministry of Truth” provides a fascinating if at times all too brief look at one of the most important books ever written. “1984” made such an impression on me when I read it in 1984 as a teenager that I would later name my daughter after the female protagonist. 70 years after its publication, it remains as relevant as ever. The fact that it is both embraced and attacked by all points on the political spectrum speaks for itself, but it was the Trump (mis-) Administration that catapulted “198 ...more
Ryan Denson
Dorian Lynskey’s The Ministry of Truth brilliantly seeks to uncover what forces shaped the novel 1984, both in terms of Orwell’s personal experiences and larger cultural elements, as well as survey how the novel has remained so popular in the seven decades since its publication.

The first part of the book could be described as a mixture of biography, history, and literary history. Lynskey does diligent work in piecing together the events and experiences of Orwell’s life that had a profound impac
Joe O'Donnell
Can there be any novelist or journalist from the last century who has proved more enduringly influential than George Orwell? And has any single novel had anywhere the same influence as his dystopian masterpiece, “Nineteen Eighty-Four”? As Dorian Lynskey writes in “The Ministry of Truth”, his masterful biography of “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, it “remains the book we turn to when truth is mutilated, language is distorted, power is abused, and we want to know how bad things can get”; a warning from his ...more
Robert Sheard
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Lynskey takes us through Orwell's career, decade-by-decade, and then continues a decade-by-decade discussion of Orwell's role in culture since his death in 1950. It's an important topic today, of course, as the USA has a presidential administration waging war on objective reality and some 60 million "believers" buying into the "alternative facts." As a subject, then, I think Lynskey's work is hugely important. As a reading experience, however, it's less compelling. Lynskey has done tremendous re ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it liked it
More like a 3.5 but goodreads sucks and won’t let me rate books PROPERLY.

4.5 stars, but rather dry - even as an audiobook. I'm not sure if I would have enjoyed it more in physical form where I could more readily trace/write down titles of all the books mentioned, or less because then paying attention would be even more taxing.

George Orwell had a long and varied life filled with lived experiences, but Nineteen Eighty-Four is probably his masterpiece.

This biography of the book itself focuses on the conversations and literary influences that forged elements of the book
Peter Bradley
Sep 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, history
Please give my Amazon review a helpful vote -

If this book had ended a chapter sooner, I would have given it a solid five-star rating. Instead, in the last chapter, author Dorian Lynskey succumbed to the most boring, cliched, overwrought hysteria imbibed by the boring and overwrought to discover in the not-leftist-of-the-moment if not the true Big Brother, then something that could pass for Big Brother if one squints just right.

Oh, bother.

Up to that point,
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tremendous resource and overall entertaining read. The final section is the weakest, but it is still good. Political biases pop up towards the end and some sections were a bit daunting for someone like me with little knowledge of contemporary English politics, but this is a solid, solid work of scholarship.

Hopefully, there will be many secondary English teachers who supplement their teaching of 1984 with sections from this text. I know that I will be one.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent! I will try to review soon.
Jason Wilson
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. This sparkling book is both a biography of the writing of 1984 and an analysis of its prescience and effects. There is good stuff on how fighting in the Spanish Civil war destroyed Orwell’s early infatuation with communism , and I loved the account of his prickly relationship with HG Wells, whose sci-fi dystopias were a huge influence.

The second section, which deals with the book’s afterlife , is good too. During the Cold War the book was virtually a bible for the Hungarian uprisin
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Part George Orwell biography, part social history, combined with a thorough, and always fascinating, look at the myriad influences which informed Nineteen Eighty-Four, and George Orwell's progress as a writer and thinker.

The second part on the book looks at Nineteen Eighty-Four's enduring appeal and how it has come to mean different things in different eras. This analysis goes right up to the present day with an exploration of Nineteen Eighty-Four in the era of Brexit, Trump, post-truth and fak
Michelle Kidwell
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Ministry of Truth
The Biography of George Orwell's 1984

by Dorian Lynskey

Doubleday Books


Biographies & Memoirs , Nonfiction (Adult)

Pub Date 04 Jun 2019

I am reviewing a copy of The Ministry of Truth through Doubleday and Netgalley:

When George Orwell’s book 1984 was published in the United Kingdom on June 8 1949, a critic couldn’t help but wonder how such a timely book could exert the same power over generations to come.

Readers of the First edition of 1984 knew of only a fraction of Geor
Laurel Hicks
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is an excellent source for biographical facts about George Orwell, especially at the time he was writing his most famous novel, and about the book’s influences and influence. The thing that stood out most strongly to me as I read this book and reread 1984 was that the dangers Orwell warns us about could be brought about by a charismatic leader or group on either the far right or the far left—that Fascism and Communism (that is National Socialism and International Socialism) are mirror ...more
Mat Davies
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A biography of a novel may not sound like the most immediate grab you by the lapels option so it’s testament to the quality of @Dorianlynskey’s writing that this book is utterly riveting. A biography in two parts: part one deals with the genesis of the novel, Orwell’s influences and his contemporaries and it hurtles along, the prose elegant and thoughtful, the insight telling and elegant. Part Two looks at the influence of the book in the decades following Orwell’s death. McCarthyism, The Cold W ...more
Utsob Roy
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about a book. Not any random book, but the '1984' by George Orwell. Both of them are phenomenally famous, ambiguous, and misinterpreted.

If one loses sight of Orwell's politics (he was a Democratic Socialist), his background, struggles, and disillusionment ('Homage to Catalonia' is what one needs), it is natural to think that it was a pro-capitalist book to undermine socialism.

This book deals with this misconception and many others. A chronicle that starts from conceiving the book
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ministry of Truth is a survey of George Orwell’s life as it relates to his crowning achievement: 1984, the novel.

1984 is a classic of modern literature, about Winston Smith and a totalitarian government where freedom is not only curtailed, but not even thought of. It is full of paradoxical language and phrases that have come to be called “Orwellian”: War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. Big Brother is watching you. He who controls the past controls the future…” (If you haven’
Susan Paxton
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: george_orwell
Dorian Lynskey has, I think, produced one of the most perceptive pieces of Orwell scholarship in some time, and frankly I rather hope that he eventually sits down to the task of writing a complete biography as his view of the man and his work is vividly three-dimensional in a way few of Orwell's biographers have achieved.

Lynskey's book is, of course, a biography of Orwell's most famous work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, a book which has never lost its resonance but which is steadfastly reinterpreted an
Katie (wife of book)
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't recall where I heard about this book, but as soon as I heard about it, I had to read it. Luckily, my library had the audio book so I nabbed it! The narrator has a authoritative and deep voice and I think he did a good job of this book. He may have gone a little overboard with some of the accents and pronunciations but overall, it was a good reading.
This is a really excellent book to read if you are a big fan of Nineteen-Eighty Four, like I am. You will need to have read Orwell's final no
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
More so than any other dystopian novel, 1984 has taken on a life of its own. It is very likely you already know of Big Brother, telescreens, and Room 101 control long before you ever read the book, if you even have.

But when I read 1984 myself a year or so ago, what struck me most was not these concepts but the book's love and fear for the very idea of truth. There is objective truth out there, but Orwell knew that if we were not careful, governments could undermine truth so thoroughly that it b
Jon Davids
Dec 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where did 1984 come from? What has been it's significance since publication? This books answers both. The early part reviews previous utopias and dystopias, and those who wrote them. Next is Eric Blair's life (George Orwell) and how he was influenced by his predecessors. Both of these sections were good, but a little dry, too academic. The final section looks at the impact of 1984, how it's content and message have been appropriated across the political spectrum, and it's relevance to our curren ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘It is truly Orwellian that the phrase “fake news” has been turned on its head by Trump and his fellow authoritarians to describe real news that is not to their liking, while flagrant lies became “alternative facts” [...]

Trump creates his own reality and measures his power by the number of people who subscribe to it: the cruder the lies, the more power its success demonstrates.

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giulani accidentally provided a crude motto for Versionland USA when he snapped at an interviewer,
Sep 22, 2019 marked it as abandoned
I guess that I’m really not all that interested in an in-depth look at 1984 and George Orwell. I think I just enjoy science fiction for its surface stories, not potential political and cultural connections to real life.
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Dorian Lynskey is a British music journalist who currently writes for The Guardian, among other publications.

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“Margaret Atwood started writing The Handmaid’s Tale in West Berlin in the spring of 1984. Like Orwell when he began Nineteen Eighty-Four, she was in her early forties and she knew exactly what she wanted to say. The novel originated with a file of newspaper cuttings she had begun collecting while living in England, covering such topics as the religious right, prisons in Iran, falling birth rates, Nazi sexual politics, polygamy and credit cards. She let these diverse observations ferment, like compost, until a story grew out of them. Her travels in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, where she experienced “the wariness, the feeling of being spied on, the silences, the changes of subject, the oblique ways in which people might convey information,” nourished the novel, too, as did her adolescent obsession with dystopias and World War Two.” 2 likes
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