The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Upton Sinclair intended to show the plight of poor immigrants, but instead he brought the disgusting things that ended up in food processed in meat packing plants at the turn of the century to the public consciousness. Things changed (such as the Pure Food and Drug Act), but not what Sinclair had intended or hoped. The story itself follows an extended family of Lithuanian immigrants, particularly Jurgis, the man at the head of the family. Jurgis works in meat packing, loses his wife and child, lives as a hobo, discovers his wife’s cousin has become a drug-addicted prostitute due to their circumstances, ends up in jail more than once, becomes a scab and then a socialist, and so much more. Basically, if it could happen to a poor immigrant, it happened to Jurgis. It is an interesting view of that time period and shows how poor immigrants, like now, have always been looked down on and willing to take jobs most people won’t just to survive. I enjoyed reading it a lot right up until the socialist diatribe of the last two or three chapters. Then it just became a lecture, which makes some sense since it was originally published as a serial in a socialist publication and Sinclair himself was a socialist. I recommend reading The Jungle to all adults (though you really won’t miss anything if you just skim the last couple chapters).

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 98
Pages Read in 2019: 25,064
Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks (more book reviews!)

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