Arguably one of the most widely read and important books ever. Orwell never did things by halves. He had personal experience of the Spanish Civil War and Stalinism. His experiences caused him to write two of the most stunningly original books on totalitarianism ever put to paper. This and “Animal Farm” are probably the only two novels you really need to read on this topic. “1984” has entered the lexicon of modern life. How many of the millions of mindless drones who watch Endemol’s “Big Brother” on TV aware of the irony? Do any of them even know who coined this phrase? I doubt it. Orwell hated the rise of the Communists and Fascists in Europe. He observed the mechanisms whereby human populations can be caught up in the machinations of power.
He poured his heart out into this book where he extrapolates everything he witnessed in 1948 thirty-six years into the future. When I read this as a teenager I thought it was just a clever work of science fiction. As I matured I slowly started to see the world through Orwell’s eyes. We started to see how Government “truths” were just lies. We witness everyday how leaders stoke up the fear of imagined enemies in order to deprive their populations of any freedom. This is all so painfully close to present day reality that we should be thanking Orwell for pointing it out to us. As many present day authors are keen to show, everything that Orwell predicted has come to pass. For the lucky few we preserved our democracies but sold out on everything else. Our civil liberties have gone and we lurch numbly from fighting one enemy to another. It doesn’t matter what enemy it is. Any enemy will do. Chilling. Frightening. True. A visionary nightmare made reality. We owe it to him that no modern government has truly made every aspect of Winston Smith’s life a reality. For this we should be grateful. But they got away with nearly everything else. Thanks George. The finest book you will ever read and a warning to us all.