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The Jungle

Upton Sinclair

Book Overview: 

It is the end of the 19th century. Like thousands of others, the Rudkus family has emigrated from Lithuania to America in search of a better life. As they settle into the Packingtown neighborhood of Chicago, they find their dreams are unlikely to be realized. In fact, just the opposite is quite likely to occur. Jurgis, the main character of the novel, has brought his father Antanas, his fiancée Ona, her stepmother Teta Elzbieta, Teta Elzbieta’s brother Jonas and her six children, and Ona’s cousin Marija Berczynskas along. The family, naïve to the ways of Chicago, quickly falls prey to con men and makes a series of bad decisions that lead them into wretched poverty and terrible living conditions. All are forced to find jobs in dismal working conditions for their very survival. Jurgis, broken and discouraged, eventually finds solace in the American Socialist movement.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . explanation—that it was against the law for children to work before they were sixteen. What was the sense of that? they asked. They had been thinking of letting little Stanislovas go to work. Well, there was no need to worry, Grandmother Majauszkiene said—the law made no difference except that it forced people to lie about the ages of their children. One would like to know what the lawmakers expected them to do; there were families that had no possible means of support except the children, and the law provided them no other way of getting a living. Very often a man could get no work in Packingtown for months, while a child could go and get a place easily; there was always some new machine, by which the packers could get as much work out of a child as they had been able to get out of a man, and for a third of the pay.

To come back to the house again, it was the woman of the next family that had died. That was after they had been there nearly four ye. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Every day in New York they slaughter
four million ducks
five million pigs
and two thousand doves for the pleasure of the dying,
a million cows
a million lambs
and two million roosters,
that leave the sky in splinters.

—Federico García Lorca
I expected to dislike this book, because it is a book aimed at pro

‘I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.’
-Upton Sinclair

The Jungle is best known as the novel that led to the Meat Inspection Act and partially to the creation of the FDA after much public outcry against the unsanitary conditions of food processing and packaging. Howe

Naturally, my high school English teacher felt it necessary to assign "The Jungle" to read over Thanksgiving break. As my Dad carved the turkey, the conversation went something like this:

MOM: Could you pass the turkey?

ME: Oh, yeah, great, why don't we pass the meat that untold numbers of Slavik immi

I have a tendency to be easily swayed by arguments, so I asked a well-read friend for an antidote to Ayn Rand's ATLAS SHRUGGED. She suggested this book. If I ever get that wish where you get to resurrect people and have them at a dinner party, I'm going to have Ayn Rand and Upton Sinclair there toge

A book that changed laws in America...should be required reading for anyone working towards an MBA. This book truly made a positive change for everyone; the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drugs Act. The 1906 Act was passed in response to the public anger over the conditions in the Chicago stockya

It's been a while since I read it, but I believe this book features a precocious young boy named Mowgli Rudkus who was raised by wolves. After singing a bunch of songs with bears and orangutans in the jungles of India, Mowgli immigrates to turn-of-the-century Chicago where he lives in abject poverty

(written 6-03)

Wow. Now I can see why this book had such a big impression on those who read it in the early twentieth century. Really heart-wrenching (and gut-wrenching) stuff. There's the famous quote that Sinclair said he aimed for the public's heart and hit it in the stomach instead. I guess peopl

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