Saturday, December 29, 2007

Finished another book...

It took me two days to finish "The Jungle" and I must say that it was quite a read. Of course it's no secret that author Upton Sinclair was a socialist but I didn't come away from the book declaring my new allegiance to the socialist movement.

What I did feel was educated, enlightened and even a little disgraced at the treatment of immigrants by immigrants in those days. The book was written in 1906 and was a catalyst for change within the meatpacking industry. We owe a debt of gratitude to the late Mr. Sinclair for that. Whether or not we believe in socialism, his muckracking piece forced the government to take on the corrupted industry and reform it. If not for the reform, millions would likely have become seriously ill and even died as a direct result of the disgusting practices of the slaughterhouses and meatpacking industry.

I often wonder why many of these classics are not must-reads for junior high and high school students and why so many college students never read them either. I learned about "The Jungle" from my grandmother who read it in high school--back in the 1930's. Ha! You won't find that today.

While I was reading the book, I was appalled and disgraced at the way the illiterate, uneducated, poverty-stricken immigrants were treated by the wealthy, rich, and corrupted of society. Immigrants were treated like dogs if they were poor and ethnic groups hated each other. It was terrible. Of course you throw a large number of poor, uneducated, desperate people from entirely different cultures together and what can you expect? They were doing this to each other.

Anyway, it was good reading. Sure, it was littered with socialist speeches and ideas but I got out of it what I wanted to get out of it, and that's a better understanding of conditions in the early 20th century, which is when a majority of my immigrant ancestors came over from Italy, Sicily, and Romania to find a new and better life. Their hard work and sacrifices made it possible for all of us to enjoy the life we live today.

So I guess you could say I enjoyed it :)

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous12/31/2007

    A great follow up to "The Jungle" is "Fast Food Nation". It's modern day, and really eye-opening. Happy New Year! ~RQ

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  2. I read it a few months ago, it was terrific and yes, very EYE opening!!!

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