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Nineteen Eighty-Four
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Thought Police. Big Brother. Orwellian. These words have entered our vocabulary because of George Orwell's classic dystopian novel, 1984. The story of one man's nightmare odyssey as he pursues a forbidden love affair through a world ruled by warring states and a power structure that controls not only information but also individual thought and memory, 1984 is a prophetic, haunting tale.

More relevant than ever before, 1984 exposes the worst crimes imaginable-the destruction of truth, freedom, and individuality.
With a new forward by Thomas Pynchon.

Customer Reviews:

  • Frightening
    With respect to current politics, the most frightening thing about this superb novel is not the popular misconception that "1984" is just about Big Brother watching. Rather, it is the description of how the lowest class (the prols, which constitute 85% of Oceania's population) are kept under control by the Party.

    When Winston Smith started reading Goldstein's forbidden book, he was fascinated because it told him nothing new. "It said what he would have said, if it had been possible for him to set his scattered thoughts in order... The best books, he perceived, are those that tell you what you know already." (p. 205)

    And that is what is really scary. Orwell's descriptions of the manipulation of information by the Ministry of Truth, continual restatement of the past to fit current political ideology, and the necessary perversion of fundamental truths ("two plus two equals five") ring a horribly familiar bell. ...more info
  • Incredible book!
    I was blown away by this book, couldn't put it down. The similarities with today are a bit scary. It's a great horror without the horror, if you know what I mean....more info
  • Introduction to Big Brother
    1984 is without a doubt one of the best books ever written. It shows the reader the consequences of having an authorative government going to the extremes in controlling the thoughts and actions of its citizens. 1984 also brings up in interesting idea about the reasons for wars. According to Orwell, wars are fought not to gain territory but to get rid of the excess of material and wealth the citizens create. Another way to look at the book is to take our contempary setting of today and see what would happen if people didnt stand up for their rights and beliefs and laid all their trusts and fears upon their government. ...more info
  • A deep insight into the rule of a fascist state
    A powerful book, that eerily depicts the direction the world is going where truth is shunted and lies are promoted by all the mainstream media. The three slogans of the Party as described in book is very familiar with what we hear from our leaders in these times:

    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength

    Orwell paints a picture of how this fascist totalitarian state is controlled by control surveillance, the new language of Newspeak and the three main ministries that are:

    "Ministry of Peace", which concerns itself with war
    "The Ministry of Truth", which takes care of news, entertainment, education etc. in short translated as the place of propaganda
    "The Ministry of Love", which is concerned with law and order and according to Orwell the most frightening one.

    It is truly a must read book as the rise of fascism is happening. Can also highly recommend seeing the movie called "V for Vendetta", as it is also set in a fascist environment, that closely resembles the one George Orwell depicts in this book....more info
  • One of my favorites...
    This is one of my favorite books of all time, right up there with Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. If you haven't read this book, and you are into politics, it is a must read for everyone! ...more info
  • This was the reality on the other side of the Iron Curtain
    Orwell has masterminded the collection of terminology resources that today we are aware of, but at times, I guess, without knowing their origin. Although modern terms like "hatecrime" and "hatespeech" in the book do not come to the surface, I am sure now, that they are implicit product of the heritage left by Orwell.

    The true value of a book is in the aftertaste, which urges one to think about human instincts and their function. And at the end, it is almost impossible to object to Orwell's argument, that the strongest human instinct is self-preservation and only then comes the drive to procreate.

    Winston Smith lives in the society founded upon hatred, he believes in the proles, and rightly so. Regardless of the fact, that two, and in some cases, even three generations of the Eastern Europeans experienced a number of Orwell's revelations to become reality (and to become truth!), they managed to change the course of events. In certain circles, though, the collapse of the Soviet Union is still being regarded as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. As long as such a view will exist, Orwell's messages will not loose their urgency.

    Finally, I remember that those who studied the law in the former Soviet Union were taught that every crime is two-sided, having its subjective and objective side. While fully understanding what is being meant by first, there was some difficulty, though, among the students, in embracing the later. This novel is like a textbook to understand that concept.
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  • Tremendous book
    George Orwell's book 1984 was a tremendous, very enticing book. It shows a government under which no one can trust anyone. Everyone has to watch what is said to everyone because there is always a chance that the other person they are talking to is a spy.
    It starts off with Winston questioning what is going on in the government. He is wanting to revolt against them. He realizes that all the people are changing the history everyday to go with what the government says.
    He isn't careful of what he does and he gets caught. That goes back to always watching what the characters say around other people because if they aren't careful, they will get caught. That leads to George Orwell's purpose of this novel.
    George Orwell was a very good writer. He had a reoccurring theme in this book and in Animal Farm, which was communism. In 1984, he showed his vision of how the world would be if communism took over. There would be no freedom, and one supreme ruler, or in the book, Big Brother.
    Orwell accomplished his goal in this book. He was warning people against the negative aspects of communism. It may have been a little dramatic, but still there is not much freedom in communist countries. He showed that the government would have a hand in everything, even what people said in private.
    This book has many strengths and a couple weaknesses in it. The first strength is that it is written very well. It is put together so that everything fits together perfectly. Another strength is that it is a very enticing book. Once the reader picks the book up he or she can't stop reading it until it's done. The one weakness it has is the ending. It somewhat just cuts the reader off at the ending. It basically says Winston gave up on loving Julia and he accepted the party. So, Orwell is saying that Winston gave up and accepted communism. Overall though, it was an excellent book.
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  • 1984 and my childhood
    Mindlessly mechanical, very few things move her emotionally. "Things will be all right for future generations," she tells my father. She has no need for family history, her own or mine. She fears creativity until recently. My mother, a misanthrope who grew up under communist China's educational system, even after residing in the States for more than twenty-five years, cannot seem to snap out of her past "education" by the communists. In my memory, she seems to hold little joy in her life. What a novel 1984 is; it sheds light on my questions: "Who is my mother?" and "What is my mother?" In a sense, "Chapter One" of the Book rings a personal truth to my upbringing, so many things that my mother said to me about the world, during my childhood, puzzled me. Whatever psychological lessons my mother went through during her "education," I doubt she'd ever share it with me. Nonetheless, I would not be surprised if she received training in doubletalk, doublethink and the indoctrination "freedom is slavery." It was very easy, almost too easy, for me to project myself into the novel, because it felt so personal and real.

    So it was easy for me to imagine myself living in a Totalitarian society, but it would be too much of a nightmare, for I already have a slight taste of it in my childhood. Unknowingly, in the past few years, I have worked in my small ways to strengthen my knowledge and belief in a democratic society, may it be researching history, studying the structure of mainstream media, or becoming more aware and decoding the means of deception and misinformation, which is so pertinent to understand the actions of current Bush administration.

    Even though the main character, Winston Smith, in 1984 eventually learned to love the Big Brother after forty years, I am still optimistic about meeting my responsibility as a US citizen, participating in quasi-democracy and reading once more 1984 as a novel, not a history book. But, if it ever becomes truly historical in content, by then, 1984 would have been either re-written or George Orwell vaporized out of existence.
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  • A work of genius that provides warning
    1984 is one of the best novels ever written in English. The dismal world of the "future" presented here is beyond belief but also seems within reach. Although it may seem to be a warning against communism (some of the elements are found in A Darkness at Noon - a true critique of the pogroms of Stalin), it is in fact a warning against excess that can occur in any government system.
    The foreward by T. Pynchon provides some insights, especially about the last chapter on newspeak, but be warned that it does provide spoilers....more info
  • 1984: Orwell's nightmare society.
    "Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind," George Orwell wrote in his essay, "Politics and the English Language." "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it," George Orwell wrote in 1946.

    Best known for his haunting novel on totalitarianism, 1984 (1949), Orwell (b. Eric Arthur Blair; 1903-50) was a political and cultural visionary in his anti-Stalinist writings. In his novel, Orwell envisions a bleak society controlled by the state. His name ("Orwellian") has become synonymous with the government oppression depicted in 1984, and the euphemistic and misleading language employed by the government (e.g., "Ministry of Defence," "collateral damage," and "pacification") as a manipulative tool for its own political purposes.

    "We shall crush you down to the point from which there is no coming back. Things will happen to you from which you could not recover, if you lived a thousand years. Never again will you be capable of ordinary human feeling. Everything will be dead inside you. Never again will you be capable of love, or friendship, or joy of living, or laughter, or curiosity, or courage, or integrity. You will be hollow. We shall squeeze you empty, and then fill you with ourselves" (pp. 264-5). More relevant now than ever, 1984 not only tells the profound story of man's search for love in a world devoid of truth ("IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH"), freedom ("FREEDOM IS SLAVERY"), and individuality, it also demonstrates totalitarian government's power to break the human spirit. There is no "happily ever after" for lovers like Winston Smith and Julia in an Orwellian society of Thought Police and Big Brother, and where "WAR IS PEACE." Orwell's 1984 offers readers an important message about these times.

    G. Merritt...more info
  • Big impact literature
    So what can I say about this book that hasn't been said before? Having read it I can see how it has become regarded as classic fiction. Of course the year 1984 has come and gone and many folks say had it been titled "2009" it would have been much more accurate. I chose this book because my son had to read it for school (I was never assigned this one myself) but I always felt I "should" read it. So I have now.

    For those of you who haven't read it, it is a complex novel but with a fairly basic plot. The protagonist, Winston Smith, is a functioning member of a society in the future who meets a woman he is attracted to. Much of the book surrounds their attempt to form a relationship in this society that just won't allow that sort of thing. Of course the real point and value of the novel is to illustrate where our current society may be headed if we don't change course, a sort of anti-utopian (dystopian?) novel. This book has brought us common terms such as "Big Brother", "doublethink", and "thought police." There are long sections where Winston reads to his girl friend from the official government manual detailing how the society came to be as well as the evolution of the government-speak ("Newspeak")language. I am glad that I've read this novel but at the same time I can't say that I would ever want to read it again. My political/societal views are already pretty much cemented in place and this book, while thought provoking, did not change my views. I do agree that it should be studied at the High School level though, not only for its value to the world of literature but also as a way to kick start young people's thinking on what a society should and shouldn't be.
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  • Apocalypse Now and Then
    "1984"--or "Nineteen Eighty-Four" in the Oldspeak--is one of those books prophecizing doom that has remained relevant enough to generate a famous Macintosh commercial, a "Simpsons" parody, and a reality television series named for it among other things. What allows "1984" to remain in our consciousness and not a relic of the post-World War II, Cold War, Atomic Age era is that like the book of Revelations, "1984"'s dire predictions can be adapted for each new generation.

    "1984"'s epic battle of good versus evil doesn't take place on any plain of Armageddon, but rather within the mind of one man: Winston Smith. Winston is a 39-year-old man who works for the Party at the Ministry of Truth, which has an ironic name because Winston's job is actually to doctor reality so that the Party always appears infallible. Winston sees that while the Party, under the leadership of Big Brother, claims surpluses of everything, no one can buy simple items like razor blades or shoelaces. As he becomes disillusioned by the Party's rule, he and a young woman named Julia begin a torrid secret affair. Then he is contacted by a man high up in the Party named O'Brien who works for a resistance group known as the Brotherhood. But before he can help the Brotherhood, Winston is betrayed, arrested, and taken to the dungeons of the Ministry of Love, where he endures physical and psychological torment that threatens to break him and strip him of all humanity.

    As it is written, Big Brother and his Party would seem to represent the fascist or Communist movements of the 1940s. Taken literally it would be easy to dismiss the book as an archaic remnant of Cold War hysteria. But the beauty of "1984" is that because it focuses on the internal struggle for Winston Smith's soul, it can transcend all that. For the warning in "1984" isn't about communism or fascism, but the threat of letting anyone crush the human spirit through overbearing dogma.

    Much like faithful Christians of every generation have painted everyone from the Pope to Hitler as the Antichrist, every generation looks for its Big Brother. From communists to corporations to churches, individual readers can read "1984" and make their own interpretations of who or what Big Brother and the Party represent. But no matter how each of us sees it, the general warning should be clear: the human spirit is our most precious possession and must be retained at all costs.

    That is all....more info
  • An Instruction Manual For Power-Hungry Pinheads
    Mr. Orwell's book is, rightfully, a must-read classic. The daily grind of existing in such an oppressive state piles onto the reader. There is not one iota of levity in this entire work. Mr. Orwell's book is not simply a condemnation of communism, but a trenchant example of the concentration of power and the willingness of those overseers to do whatever it takes to stay in control. Democracy is not immune to this sort of heavy-handedness. The people in power attempt to subjugate the populace by controlling or falsifying information and using torture or at least the threat of force for political purposes. This is also about stripping individuals of their humanity. Mr. Orwell's book is a cautionary tale about the dark side of the human condition. A wonderful learning tool....more info
  • Profoundly Moving
    One of the best books I've ever read. How prophetic and relevant to the times we live in. Not only does it scare the hell out of you, but the characters are so well developed that you really care about them. It is a tragic story on two levels, both for humanity and for the individual characters. But make no mistake, although it is a great story of fiction, it is also a warning. It may never happen, but it can, and we are heading down that path.

    So much has been said already in these reviews, I will just add my endorsement and say that "1984" should be required reading for every high school student, and then it should be required again in college. If you have read it some time ago, read it again, you will find more the second time through. Peace....more info
  • Required Reading for any thinking person
    1984 should be required reading for any thinking person. Not only is the base story line compelling and thought provoking as a lesson on the more obvious problems presented in Orwell's dystopia, the ideas and thoughts presented through such things as the book the "resistance" reads are extremely relavent to today's world. The view of the military-industrial complex and how it helped lead to the society shown are amazingly prescient of how many industrialized nations are conducting business in modern society....more info
  • Big Brother Is Watching You.
    _Nineteen Eighty Four_, first published in 1949 by George Orwell (pen name of Eric Blair), is a horrifying dystopian novel of a world in which the individual human being has been completely degraded and deprived of his fundamental humanity that reflects the totalitarianisms of the day, particularly communism and Stalinism. George Orwell (1903 - 1950) was the pen name of the British author Eric Blair, who developed an early enmity towards those in power and their abuses of power. Orwell was a socialist but came to witness the horrors of the Soviet state and the betrayal of his ideals by Stalinists. As such, Orwell came to loathe totalitarianism in general and wrote novels showing the degrading effects such societies had on people. Throughout this book, one can witness the underlying hatred of Orwell and those imprisoned by the system for the totalitarian state and bureaucracy which completely controls their lives and existences. This book in particular shows that rage in the main character of Winston Smith, a mere pawn in a totalitarian society. Orwell's books are indeed prophetic and show us a world in which the very life-force has been sapped out of mankind by those in power. Orwell imagines a highly efficient totalitarian state, capable of enforcing political correctness at the highest levels, tampering with the memories of men, and maintaining a total disregard for the truth. Orwell shows how under such regimes the very notion of truth becomes suspect and the individual can no longer distinguish between fact and state propaganda. This particularly applies to the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin, which is the primary setting for Orwell's stories. However, Orwell's books are also applicable to the West of today, where the constant menace of totalitarian ideology exists.

    _1984_ gives us a whole slew of new terminology to describe the situation as it exists in a totalitarian state in which political correctness is enforced. The book introduces such terms as thought police, thought crime (and thought criminal), doublethink, memory hole, Ingsoc, and Newspeak. Such terms reflect the complete disregard of the totalitarian state for the truth and the active promotion of propaganda within society. They have also largely entered into our culture as expressions to describe the enforcement of political correctness.

    _1984_ focuses on the main character Winston Smith, a member of the Outer Party who lives in England and works for the Ministry of Truth. As it turns out, the Ministry of Truth ironically is responsible for spreading propaganda, and as all ministries mentioned by Orwell has a purpose exactly opposite to its stated purpose. The world of 1984 is a very bleak one indeed, run by a single party and its ruling leader "Big Brother", in which all individuals are subject to surveillance by the state should they commit a "thought crime". All expressions of individuality in 1984 have been wiped out and the human being is totally degraded living a pathetic existence of total subservience to the party. Sexuality has been suppressed as part of the "Anti-sex League" as well as religion. Truth itself is highly malleable and memory is constantly distorted, reflected in such ironical and oxymoronic sayings of the party as "War Is Peace", "Freedom Is Slavery", and "Ignorance Is Strength". Further, the nation of Oceania is constantly at war with either Eurasia or Eastasia, varying from day to day and reflected in the official propaganda of the state bureaucracy. All party members revere their leader "Big Brother" (perhaps reminiscent of Josef Stalin or other totalitarian dictators) and despise the rebellious "Goldstein" (perhaps reminiscent of the Soviet hatred for Leon Trotsky). Further, the party exists in a caste system in which the "proles" (the proletariat) live underneath the party members (who are divided into the Inner and Outer Party). Winston Smith works for the Ministry of Truth but begins to keep a diary (which is strictly forbidden to party members) in which he reflects his hatred for "Big Brother". His work involves developing propaganda for the party. At work he meets up with Julia, who he initially believes is a strict orthodox member of the party. However, eventually he comes to realize that Julia is in love with him and they have a secret encounter in the countryside. Eventually Julia expresses to Winston her complete loathing for the party, though she publicly maintains a persona of utter obeisance and orthodoxy and belongs to the "Anti-sex League". Together they find a new hiding place in a shop in a part of the city where the "proles" live and attempt to re-discover the past of England. Throughout this period, however, the two live in constant fear of the thought police, should they catch onto their affair. Eventually, Winston meets up with O'Brien at work, a man who he believes is a member of the Resistance, and is given a copy of Goldstein's book which explains the rise of the party and the need for perpetual war. Orwell quotes extensively from Goldstein's book which reflects much of the social thinking of the time, in particular the theory of managerial elites. However, Winston and Julia are captured by the party and it turns out that O'Brien is in fact a member of the party. While taken captive, both are tortured and made to recant their original beliefs about the party. In a particularly disgusting scene, Winston is taken to Room 101 where he must face his worst fear. There he ultimately betrays Julia (as she has already betrayed him) to save himself from being tortured by rats (the worst torture that he can imagine). Eventually, Winston is completely re-educated and made to love "Big Brother" while his relationship with Julia is forever changed after their mutual betrayals of each other. Thus, ends in the most horrifying of manners Orwell's classic novel. Orwell concludes with an appendix on "The Principles of Newspeak" which effectively shows how even the language itself can be put to the purposes of propaganda within a totalitarian state.

    _1984_ remains a classic dystopia reflecting the darker side of human existence within the Twentieth Century as it played out in the totalitarian dictatorships of the age. Throughout this novel, the very notion of truth remains problematic, as the party re-defines history to reflect its own agenda and thus even memory itself becomes distorted. Orwell shows the sheer degradation that the human being undergoes within such a surveillance society, to the eventual point where a man can be tortured by the powers that be to such an extent that he will eventually even renounce his love and embrace the figure he hates the most. While the novel is made to reflect Soviet society and Stalinism in particular, it also reflects the modern world in general, in which large-scale and efficient bureaucratic structures rob man of his humanity. Orwell's novels prove particularly prescient warnings to mankind to avoid the dangers of totalitarianism. As such, they should be read by all thinking individuals who seek to understand the horrors that can be inflicted upon the human being through totalistic societies.
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