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The Jungle

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  111,464 Ratings  ·  4,847 Reviews
To gather material for a novel about industrail corruption, Upton Sinclair (1878 - 1968) lived for a time in the meatpacking district of Chicago. He talked to workers, foremen, and bosses; he toured the plants' and he took copious notes. Out of this research came the story of Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian immigrant who struggles to live and work in the urban jungle.
Paperback, 333 pages
Published January 2008 by Ann Arbor Media Group, LLC (first published January 1st 1906)
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Jerrod Carter The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first of a series of significant consumer protection laws enacted by the Federal Government in the…moreThe Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first of a series of significant consumer protection laws enacted by the Federal Government in the twentieth century and led to the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. The Act arose due to public education and exposés from public interest guardians such as Upton Sinclair and Samuel Hopkins Adams, social activist Florence Kelley, researcher Harvey W. Wiley, and President Theodore Roosevelt.

Source: Wikipedia (retrieved 14 Oct 2014)(less)
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Robert Isenberg
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  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jason Koivu
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 enormousl
Apr 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: tough people
Recommended to Jed by: bennion (and a handful of people who were afraid to read it)
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
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
Kater Cheek
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
Mar 04, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to AMD by: Mr. Buchas
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
Jonathan Ashleigh
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.
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
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
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
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 tha
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.
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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, and
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. 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
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
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The 99%, people who like sausage
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
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, classics
This is a shocking story about the meat packing industry. The things that ended up in the meat. It was also hard to hear what the workers went through and how this family struggled just to survive. How their food was filled with nasty things, how people swindled them. It was a hard life back then for immigrants. Very good book to learn a little bit about America's history.
Jose Moa
The Jungle is the most brutal social novel i have read in my life and i think ever written,is a masterpiece of social realism and a masterpiece of USA literature ,between others as Germinal by Zola,The Mother by Gorki or The grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck going a step further that Dickens or Galdos.

The novel describes in the most cruel and gritty and sordid form the two descents to the hell of a inocent ,ignorant,poor but full of humanity family of Lithuanians grinded by the rotten corrupted meat
"They could tell the whole hateful story of it, set forth in the inner soul of a city in which justice and honor, women's bodies and men's souls were for sale in the marketplace, and human beings writhed and fought and fell upon each other like wolves in a pit, in which lusts were raging fires, and men were fuel, and humanity was festering and stewing and wallowing in its own corruption."

The Good:

Jurgis Rudkus is a Lithuanian immigrant, newly landed in Chicago, IL with his extended family. Lik
The Jungle wasn’t quite what I was expecting, having always thought of it as just a piece about the meat industry. In the beginning it seems to be a heart-breaking story about a poor immigrant family come to Chicago in pursuit of the ‘American dream’ who instead find themselves pawns of the corporate nightmare. Despite all their best efforts they aren’t going to beat the system, but still I found myself rooting for them and hoping against hope they would be able to make a go of things. As the si ...more
Renee M
This was not an easy read. But it was riveting. Impossible to turn away as you watch the train heading toward disaster; screeching and desperate and bloody as it hurtles over the bridge and into the immovable mountain of heartless self-interest and unfair systems which let down the neediest. The story of this immigrant family looking to find a better life was the story of too many in dark times. But, what a powerful story!

(Oh, and the meat-packing practices were disgusting!)

**I came back to add
"There was no justice, there was no right, anywhere in it--it was only force, it was tyranny, the will and the power, reckless and unrestrained! They had ground him beneath their heel, they had devoured all his substance; they had murdered his old father, they had broken and wrecked his wife, they had crushed and cowed his whole family; and now they were through with him, they had no further use for him--and because he had interfered with them, had gotten in their way, this was what they had don ...more
AmberBug ** review
Dear Reader,

Imagine yourself standing in a puddle of blood, covering the entire floor. All around you is corpses, the dead hanging from the ceiling to bleed dry. The smell is so nauseous you don’t understand how such a disgusting mess turns into food for the people. This isn't a horror story or perhaps it is…

Upton Sinclair has created a jaw dropping story that inspired ACTUAL CHANGE. This was a fictional story with truth woven through it, this truth will make you questio
Alissa Patrick
Mar 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I liked about this novel is that what I've heard about it is NOTHING like what I had just read... all I heard growing up is that its about how gross the meat industry was at the turn of the century.

It is remarkable what this novel accomplished. From Sinclair's account of the brutal and unsanitary conditions of the meat-packing industry, it lead to the passage of the Meat Inspection Act. Then later, in 1930, it became the Food and Drug Administration. There's your history lesson for the day.
Theresa Alan
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This isn't an easy read, but it's especially timely right now considering some folks' attitudes toward immigrants. Also, it's important to consider where we get our meat from. When people learned about the rats etc. that ended up in our processed meats, the FDA was created. Upton famously said, "I aimed for people's hearts and got them in their stomachs." (I'm paraphrasing.)
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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
More about Upton Sinclair...
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“They use everything about the hog except the squeal.” 44 likes
“The great corporation which employed you lied to you, and lied to the whole country—from top to bottom it was nothing but one gigantic lie.” 28 likes
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