Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

In short...become a vegetarian and help those that are willing to work hard.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair follows the life of Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian who has emigrated to the United States in search of a better life. But, he does not find one. He and his family suffer unimaginable degradation trying to grasp the illusive American Dream. His struggle are real, painful, depressing. In the end, after of a life of epic failures, Jurgis stumbles upon the concept of socialism as the answer to his failing life in America. However, Lithuanian's were being persecuted much like the Jews in his home land and being sent to live in concentration camps in Siberia for far longer than Jurgis Rudkus suffered in America (Thank-you Between Shades of Gray). While his plight to find success is detrimental to his well-being and the livelihood of his family, he would not have fared any better back home. This element of historical context is left out The Jungle; intentional - I don't know.

Sinclair's book was an intent to develop an understanding of the life of an immigrant, but did more to give rise to the the Food and Drug Administration's investigation of the meat packing industry. Sinclair, a newly reformed socialist himself, tacks on the bit about Socialism at the end to drive home a point in his book -but for me, that part fell a bit flat.

The best thing about this book is the gut-wrenching story of Jurgis. I just wanted the poor man to "catch a break."

Not a happy story, not for the faint-hearted, not for a meat eater.

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