Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Animal Farm

[This review originally appeared on]

Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tired of what they see as farmer Jones' tyranny, and inspired by the vision of a boar named Old Major, the animals of an English farm finally decide to rid themselves of the farmer. Although the revolution goes well, the hoped-for equality of animals quickly breaks down. Under the guidance of a pig named Napoleon, the pigs place themselves in leadership positions, claiming to govern for the rest of the animals. Over time, the rule of Napoleon seems to be harsher than that of farmer Jones.

This book is an excellent commentary on the excesses and dangers of socialism. Orwell was actually a socialist himself, but he despised the tyranny of the Soviet Union. If you're familiar with the Bolshevik Revolution, you'll recognize the book's analogs of Czar Nicholas (farmer Jones), Marx/Lenin (Old Major), Trotsky (Snowball), and Stalin (Napoleon). The hypocrisy of the pigs, who represent the Soviet Party leaders, the creation of official "enemies of the Revolution", and the pigs' eventual use of violence against other animals closely mirrors the path of real communist dictatorships. Unfortunately, this story may be utterly lost on readers who are unfamiliar with or apathetic toward history, as most of my high school class was.

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