I had forgotten how good it was and recently re-read it. It is the story of Jurgis and his family, who immigrate to America, and who are misled from the very beginning, exploited by everyone along their path for the few pennies that could be squeezed from them. They are charged for just being brought to America, then cheated on their home purchase, obtain jobs that underpay and overwork them, develop health problems from unsanitary and inhumane working conditions, are forced into poverty and to live and work in squalor, and finally they either die or their spirits break.
The story is heartbreaking especially because of all the truth that was included in it. The meatpacking industry was indeed a brutal, unsanitary, and inhumane industry in the early 1900's, the new Industrial Processors had no incentive or reason to produce clean products or working areas. Immigrants were pouring into the country by the hundreds and were seen only has disposable labor rather than human beings.
Wow, great book! But then toward the end Mr. Sinclair does pull out his spiel on Socialism, which he was into at the time, and the pace of the book slows down a great deal. Without this unwanted lecture on the wonders of Socialism, the book would have been a 5 star.
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