1984: Centennial Edition Paperback – May 1 2003
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"Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered everywhere."
The year is 1984; the scene is London, largest population center of Airstrip One.
Airstrip One is part of the vast political entity Oceania, which is eternally at war with one of two other vast entities, Eurasia and Eastasia. At any moment, depending upon current alignments, all existing records show either that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia and allied with Eastasia, or that it has always been at war with Eastasia and allied with Eurasia. Winston Smith knows this, because his work at the Ministry of Truth involves the constant "correction" of such records. "'Who controls the past,' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"
In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always Watching You and the Thought Police can practically read your mind, Winston is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. He knows the Party's official image of the world is a fluid fiction. He knows the Party controls the people by feeding them lies and narrowing their imaginations through a process of bewilderment and brutalization that alienates each individual from his fellows and deprives him of every liberating human pursuit from reasoned inquiry to sexual passion. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called The Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.
Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime--in 1984, George Orwell created a whole vocabulary of words concerning totalitarian control that have since passed into our common vocabulary. More importantly, he has portrayed a chillingly credible dystopia. In our deeply anxious world, the seeds of unthinking conformity are everywhere in evidence; and Big Brother is always looking for his chance. --Daniel Hintzsche --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Nineteen Eighty-Four is a remarkable book; as a virtuoso literary performance it has a sustained brilliance that has rarely been matched in other works of its genre…It is as timely as the label on a poison bottle.” –New York Herald Tribune
“A profound, terrifying, and wholly fascinating book…Orwell’s theory of power is developed brilliantly.” –The New Yorker
“A book that goes through the reader like an east wind, cracking the skin…Such are the originality, the suspense, the speed of writing, and withering indignation that it is impossible to put the book down.” –V. S. Pritchett
“Orwell’s novel escorts us so quietly, so directly, and so dramatically from our own day to the fate which may be ours in the future, that the experience is a blood-chilling one.” –Saturday Review --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Totalitarianism is on the rise again. A must read classic with disturbing parallels to modern society.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
its a great book i read it years ago in class and the ideas of the book still stick with me todayPublished 3 months ago by hagopi
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