Click above, for other articles in the September 2004 issue.


All the following, are works of fiction, sharing implications and providing lessons for those of us who are currently experiencing the political climate in the United States. 


Paperback, as well as inexpensive used editions may be readily found at many bookstores. 



The Iron Heel



by: Jack London

ISBN:  1556520719


Written in 1906, this book was first published in 1908, amid the struggles of a  developing labor movement in America.  London's novel anticipated the political upheavals of the 20th century and predicted the rise of fascism. 

It is written as a diary of the wife of the central character, Ernest Everhard, from Berkeley California, who is elected to Congress. As a Congressman he makes the following speech;

"I know nothing that I may influence you, you have no souls to be     influenced.  You are spineless, flaccid things. You pompously call yourselves Republicans and Democrats.  There is no Republican Party. There is no Democratic Party.  There are no Republicans nor Democrats in this House. You are lick-spittlers and panderers, the creatures of the Plutocracy.  You talk verbosely in antiquated terminology of your love of liberty, and all the while you wear the scarlet livery of the Iron Heel." (p.160) 

Struggling against a repressive state, the central characters struggle to re-establish the founding principles of the United States as declared in the Declaration of Independence-- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness--but ultimately fail. 



1984 & Animal Farm


by: George Orwell

ISBN: 0151010269


Two classic novels by George Orwell, which are well worth reading. 

1984 was written in the 1950's and represents a 'future' society in 1984 London.  The central character, Winston, is a man in grave danger because he still retains a memory and uses his reason to function in society.  He lives in a country ruled by Big Brother and the Thought Police, a negative utopia, which makes 'eternal war' symbolizing eternal peace.  A country ruled by a Party that maintains total control over every man's actions and thoughts, by using Newspeak, which decontructs ideas into their opposites; War is Peace, Freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength, God is Power.  On re-reading the novel recently, I was struck by the many parallels to the current political thinking pervasive in America.


Animal Farm, is a satire of the Russian Revolution and Communism, but can just as easily reflect any form of totalitarian government.  The plot reflects a struggle between the farm animals who live on Mr. Jones' farm.  They create a democratic society that establishes a founding principle; that 'all animals are created equal'. But as things develop, there is a coup d'etat and totalitarian rule is established.  The central belief of the community is altered and instead becomes; 'but some animals are more equal than others'. 

Sound familiar ?




Fahrenheit 451


by: Ray Bradbury

ISBN: 0345342968


This is another novel written in the 1950's which has proven itself a timeless classic. Bearing similarities to Orwell, the plot reflects a future society regulated by firemen, where thinking is akin to crime.  Books are banned and if found destroyed by burning. Anyone found in the possession of books is declared a criminal.  The society sees such people as eccentric, dangerous and threatening the security of the state.  The main character, Guy Montag, slowly awakens to the realization that his society is 'sick' and begins to question everything.  He comes to realize, that books cry out with ideas of great value, which must be saved at all costs.



The Wave


by: Todd Strasser

ISBN: 0440993717


The Wave is based on a true incident that occurred at a high school in Palo Alto California, in 1969. An high school history teacher attempts to show his unsuspecting students, through an applied social experiment, how group peer pressure is instrumental in the development of movements like Nazism. In order to make his point, he introduces certain new rules to his students and soon enough witnesses the  repercussions throughout the school.  What begins as an innocent lesson in history, leads to a frightening unfolding of a social movement, that grips the vast majority of the student body, except for a handful of students who recognize the developing threat, that is fascism. 





by: Jose Saramago

ISBN: 0156007754


A city is hit by an epidemic of 'white blindness' which spares no one.  Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food and assaulting women.  There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers through barren streets in order to save them.  What develops is an exploration through the human soul exposing the worst and the best in the human spirit.  This allegory like prior Saramago novels expounds the view that philosophically, the greatest evils are performed by the supposedly pious and pure, i.e. the members of the Church.  The novel was attributed the Nobel Prize for Literature.




Reviewed by V.S.


Posted  September 10, 2004

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