The paperback edition of George Orwell's Essays has long been a favorite - this review refers to the Kindle edition, which is identical in content with a suitably accessible index, etc, to make it easily navigable on the Kindle. To those readers most familiar with 1984 and Animal Farm, the descriptive power, clarity of argument, intellectual honesty and relevance of this collection of essays may come as a surprise, but this single volume contains some outstanding writing that is of immense value in understanding the human condition in general and the first half of the twentieth century in particular. While many essays such as the early 'A Hanging' or 'Shooting an Elephant' (which, incidentally, illuminates a few truths about the exercise of responsibility and power) or the late 'Such, Such Were the Joys', demonstrate a mastery of descriptive power, it is his later works that demonstrate a capacity for independent critical analysis and thought, whether this reader was inclined to agree with him ('The Sporting Spirit') or not ('In Defence of PG Wodehouse), or even when I felt like the type of person he describes as being politically opposite but still having common ground and values (such as Orwell's '6 pound a week to 2000 pound a year class of technical experts, airmen', etc in 'The Lion and the Unicorn').
While I don't think Orwell was ever right about economics (although there was plenty of injustice to be aggrieved about), over the years his views on the relative balance of individual liberty against economic equality or any other collective good became sharper and more highly developed, whether demonstrated in a serious work such as 'The Prevention of Literature' or gently implied in a more whimsical 'A Good Word for the Vicar of Bray'. His sophisticated interpretation of the problems of liberty, war and economic injustice, together with his independence of thought can be seen in his willingness to criticize his notional political ally HG Wells and defend the work and thought of apparent imperialist and reactionary Rudyard Kipling.
In summary, George Orwell's `Essays' is an excellent collection of powerful, informative, occasionally whimsical and thought provoking essays which in many cases remain provocative and relevant today. What's more, had it not been for this collection of essays I may never have been discovered Arthur Koestler or Henry Miller for myself, which I have to remain grateful for.