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by George Orwell

A Book Review by Scott Hughes

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984) is a dystopian novel written by the English writer George Orwell (1903 - 1950). The novel was first published in 1949. The book tells the story of fictional character Winston Smith and his attempt to rebel against the totalitarian state in which he lives.

Nineteen Eighty-Four remains as one of the most popular and widely read books of all time. Indeed, the novel has even greatly affected common language and created new phrases, words, and idioms. For example, the commonplace term 'big brother' comes from Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The impact of Nineteen Eighty-Four is not surprising, because the well-written novel amazingly predicts a frightening future with shocking accuracy. In contemporary society, the novel can frighten readers even more, since the readers can actually see how much of the Orwell's warnings have come to pass.

With Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell depicts a - at his time - futuristic totalitarian government that uses fear, deception, and manipulation to force total obedience and conformity. The totalitarian government wages perpetual wars to keep the people in fear, thus excusing the government from its failures and oppression. The totalitarian government uses constant surveillance and "thought policing" to stifle rebellion. The people live in constant reminder that they have no freedom, with signs that say, "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU."

As far as modern society is concerned, with the endless war on terrorism, the unbalanced increasing of power claimed by the executive branch, the unwarranted surveillance of civilians, and the enforcement of "victimless crimes", it seems the warnings of George Orwell grow more and more relevant each day. Unfortunately, as a society, it may prove hard to get off this path.

Everyone needs to read Nineteen Eighty-Four at least twice, and make this book a part of their collections, because no novel pertains more importantly to this society and its government.

Buy 1984