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  • 1984
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2013
I first read 1984 as part of my High School curriculum.
At the time, it was amazing to think that a book written before any but the earliest forms of computers, when most people had never heard of television, and before CNN existed could have so eerily predicted things like Flat-screens in every house, and ministries in charge of controlling the news and pop culture.

I re-read it some years later and it was scarier still, as the world was at war, only now our enemies were the same band of merry outlaws we had allied with against the Russians. To watch Rambo III, and CNN during Operation Desert Storm, and then to re-read 1984 was an interesting experience.

Now, I think it is even more relevant. With everyone up in arms about the NSA scandal, figures like Osama Bin Laden, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange popping up in the State Controlled news casts, and more and more men and women in North America sporting "smart phones" equipped with great tools like GPS, geo-tagging, facial recognition software and fingerprint pass-protection I shake my head.

Every time I hear a song on the radio that I find my feet tapping along to, and realize the words make little to no sense - they just sound good together, as if synthesized to appeal to as many people as possible - and every time I see some news about climate change, genocide, or an environmental disaster overshadowed by the latest celebrity spotting I cringe and wonder if Orwell understood that he wasn't writing a warning for the public, he was writing a playbook for the elite.

Even if you think, "LOL - this guy is crazy!", you should do yourself a favour and really read this fantastic bit of fiction. Some would say it is a spectacular example of a literary endeavour. Others would say it's a really, really good book. I would give this 2 + 2 stars out of 5. So 5 out of 5 stars.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This novel is an amazing read! Orwell starts off by introducing the reader into the terribly grim dark world of Big Brother. The state controls everything and everybody. Orwell has written a fictional story, but you soon realize almost everything Orwell writes about, has happened somewhere in the World. I feel this was Orwell`s message, to warn people that Big Brother can and will spring up anywhere, and at any time. In the past one can look to the Stalin and Hitler regimes, for examples of what Orwell is talking about. In the present, North Korea is an almost perfect example of Orwell`s 1984 novel. And sometimes bits of Big Brother, pops up right in your own backyard. In the 2008- 2009 school year, Queens University introduced a "conversation police force" to monitor students living on Campus. This was done to prevent anything happening in the student living quarters, that was not deemed "politically correct". The controversial policy was later dropped by the University. This is the sort of thing that Orwell is trying to warn the reader about. Big Brother can suddenly appear, even in a place of higher learning. Orwell is trying to tell us, that state control is not just something that happens in far away places, such as North Korea.
There are also many smaller examples of state manipulation, such as control of the media, that are explained in the novel. The modern reader will have no trouble relating to media manipulation.
1984 is a novel that everyone living in a free society should read, at least once.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2006
This is a story that, unfortunately, seems to be slowly coming true. Many science fiction titles are escapist literature that either imagine a very different world(s) from our own, or at the very least, hold out some hopeful message - in other words, the good guys usually manage to win. This is neither kind of book. And it is science fiction because the sinister use of technology is what allows Big Brother to invade everyone's privacy and dictate what the characters can do or say, with severe, nightmarish punishment for "disobedience." There have other novels that have seized upon this idea of an anti-utopia, but Orwell was one of the first to place it in a realistic future, and in a chilling this-is-all-too-possible way.

And the parallels with our modern world are especially profound, parallels that are obvious all around us. The growing number of surveillance cameras on street corners, the ironic (but deliberately) named Patriot Act in the U.S., the rise of political and religious intolerance in the world...all of it does not bode well for the future of our basic liberties. Orwell got in right back in 1948, and although he was primarily referring to the "red menace" of his era, the tactics used by suppressive governments are tempting for any government because of the control such tactics provide, liberties be damned. Your agenda- whatever it is- can more easily be achieved if you can identify your enemies early on and thwart their every move. The problem is, when your enemies are law-abiding citizens whose political (or religious) views don't match your own- and that's the only "crime"- you've stepped over the boundary of national security and entered the realm of repression. And to stop open criticism of these tactics, these governments (including the repressive one in 1984) invariable claim that the critics are "unpatriotic," "traitors," maybe even "terrorists." Sound familiar? Repressive governments have been using these tactics for centuries; only now, modern technology makes it a whole lot easier- and yes, unfortunately, a lot more tempting.

Of course we don't want real terrorists. The problem is, a "quick fix" of sweeping powers put into the hands of a relatively few like-minded individuals- with checks and balances muted if not totally brushed aside- can, will, and has lead to abuse of those powers, primarily for political and personal gains. That was the real message of 1984, and it's one we should never forget. And if the citizens of a repressive government either don't recognize the danger- or worse yet, vigorously defend it under some mistaken notion of being "patriotic" themselves, surrendering their own liberties in the process- that just makes it all the easier for the incumbents to remain in power, with little chance for genuine reform or change.

It's all there in this great book, 1984, which deserves to be widely read forever and amen.

-Mark Wakely, author of An Audience for Einstein
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 25, 2007
1984 has always been my favorite book, and yet I did not know why until recently. I also knew that the reviews and commentary I had read were missing something important. Rereading it again recently, with Pynchon's excellent introduction, I feel I have a better understanding of its importance as a warning from history.

To convey my new understanding, I will focus on only one aspect of the book: Big Brother. Big Brother has come to be associated with massive government surveillance, just as the telescreens in 1984 were used by the government to keep Party members in constant fear. Orwell's vision is seen as prescient. The use of such technology today, and the possibility of its misuse, is a pressing topic in itself. But to only go so far is to miss the point entirely, in my opinion.

Orwell was describing, in futuristic terms, what had its essence in the system of "government" sucking the life of Eastern Europe at the time. A talk with any Pole, Hungarian, or Russian who lived through such times will tell you. Big Brother is a metaphor. For in such a system, characterized (and this is the essential factor missing by critics of Communism, and commentators on Orwell's masterpiece) by the presence of psychopathic individuals in all positions of influence and authority, normal people must live daily, hiding any trace that they possess the ability to feel normal human emotions.

To expose yourself as experiencing normal human reactions in the presence of psychopathic individuals unfettered by any system of law is a deadly thing in such a "pathocratic" system. Orwell was not writing of the evils of surveillance technology, he was writing about the very real threat that, in the control of a psychopathic system of government, such technology will be used to stamp out any trace of humanity. Normal people will once again be forced to play-act a life without meaning.

With pathocracy brewing in the halls of government in the mightiest nations on Earth, the world could use another read of 1984, perhaps in conjunction with the work of Dr. Andrew Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology (A Science on the Nature of Evil Adjusted for Political Purposes), who has written extensively on this system of pathocracy, and what can be done about it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2007
George Orwell's "1984" is such a powerful read, and a fascinating look into the world where one is under control of the State through the "Big Brother."

There is one quote that stood out for me from this book:

"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past."

What if this "Big Brother" is true? Now that would be a terrifying thought...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon June 10, 2004
In a society that has eliminated many imbalances, surplus goods, and even class struggle, there are bound to be deviates; Winston Smith is one of those. He starts out, due to his inability to doublethink, with thoughtcrime. This is in a society that believes a thought is as real as the deed. Eventually he graduates through a series of misdemeanors to illicit sex and even plans to overthrow the very government that took him in as an orphan.
If he gets caught, he will be sent to the "Ministry of Love" where they have a record of 100% cures for this sort of insanity. They will even forgive his past indiscretions.
Be sure to watch the three different movies made from this book:
1984 (1954) Peter Cushing is Winston Smith
1984 (1956) Edmond O'Brien is Winston Smith
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) John Hurt is Winston smith
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2004
Well, not exactly Animal Farm, but the same themes are pushed to their maximum logical end. Orwell writes of a government bent on controlling the people that obviously stems from a comunist base. his stark future is frighteningly belivable and his characters are human to a fault. they live fictiotuious lives to the best of their abilities. they are individuals in a see of conformity no matter what the goverment may say.
The book makes the reader aware of any numerous ways that people can be controlled. After reading it, any action heard taken by the government becomes suspect. As good literature should, it demands the reader superimpose the book onto daily life and do all they can to prevent such a future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I first read this book in spring of 1967 as a college sophomore. I thought it was interesting and easy to read. I thought it was a tale about a nation where government had gone to the extreme - a socialist bureaucracy. I never suspected that government could get this intrusive in a democratic-republic, the most freedom loving nation in the world!

However, I now wonder if we weren't on our way to bloated, over-powering government. And I wonder if socialism and bureaucracy haven't completely taken hold, entrenched large powerful government, unconcerned with individual rights??? Orwell… a genius or a prophet? Everyone should read this book accompanied by a copy of the Bill of Rights!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2004
1984 by George Orwell was brilliant, disturbing, excellently written, depressing and most of all eerily predicting of the future. I enjoyed reading it very much. Orwell's writing is phenomenal. The way he describes things is incredible and beautiful. I admired his bold statement against socialism. His book was extremely persuasive and should be read by all that have not yet read it. It is a classic, yet it holds all the contemporary aspects of a newer book. No part of this novel was unsatisfying for me. There were no parts of the novel that did not keep me waiting for what would happen next. This could quite possibly be my favorite book that I have read yet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2010
This is my favorite book. Every time I read, Orwell's brilliance shines so much brighter. Much like Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, Orwell's prescience of the future is astounding. There is an uncanny ability to trace contemporary issues to those presented in 1984: the Party's with us or against us policy can be heard in similar sentiments echoed by Bush during the axis of evil campaign to use an example. It's interesting Orwell choose to balance power around minority issues and gender issues where all are equal as class is our signifier of difference.
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