50 books to read before you die discussion

The Jungle
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Book Discussions - 100 list > The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

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Christine This was the winner of our 100 group poll. I have this on my Kindle so I will be reading it this month and look forward to the comments.

Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 71 comments I recently read it and it was very depressing! If life really was like that for the workers, and if the slaughterhouse was that awful .... wow.

Christine I have just finished reading this and you are right Nancy, it is very depressing. I think Jugis was the most naive character I have ever encounted. However, the long final chapter was excellent.

Buck (spectru) I finished this a week ago (only a month late, right?) and then forgot to write a comment about it.

There apparently were two versions of The Jungle. In the original version several chapters were expunged. These chapters were restored in later editions. My book had 31 chapters. It must have been the original one. The restored edition has 36 chapters. Initially I thought this had been written between the world wars, and was surprised to learn that it was published just after the turn of the century, in 1906.

Upton Sinclair is supposed to have worked in a meat packing plant in Chicago for six weeks as research for the writing of The Jungle. The book reportedly raised a public outcry that led to reform and regulation of the meat packing industry such as the Meat Inspection Act. To me, it didn't seem all that damning of meat packing practices at that time, but more of a condemnation of the way employers treated their workers. If those conditions persisted today and someone wrote a book about it, it might raise some eyebrows, but it seems unlikely that anybody in government would do anything about it. It seemed to me to be more of an expose of political corruption, but apparently everybody just took that as a given.

The last few chapter seem to be socialist propaganda which I found rather dull. The characters in the book promoting the socialist movement seemed to think that it was an up-and-coming political force and would start winning elections in the near future. Well, that didn't happen, did it?

It's good to get historically significant books under your belt, but I didn't particularly enjoy this one. Not bad, but not great.

Nancy Mills (nancyfaym) | 71 comments Kind of tangent, but I just finished Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, & Money which is non-fiction and talks about the horrors of the slaughterhouse. Still. It is still a hell hole. Very thought provoking.

Geoffrey Aronson (geaaronson) | 18 comments The most disturbing thing about the novel is that it was instrumental in reforming the meat packing industry but did nothing for the advancement for workers' rights.

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