Friday, June 24, 2011

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (Audiobook Review)

Audiobook Reviews from Audiobook-Heaven

”TheThe Jungle
by Upton Sinclair
narrated by Grover Gardner

Copyright: 2011 Blackstone Audio
Duration: 13 hours 20 minutes unabridged
Genres: classic fiction, period
Filed in: Audiobook Reviews
Click the image to visit the publisher’s website.

PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY: Here is the dramatic exposé of the Chicago meatpacking industry at the turn of the century that prompted an investigation by Theodore Roosevelt, which culminated in the pure-food legislation of 1906.

The Jungle is the story of Jurgis Rudkus, a Slavic immigrant who marries frail Ona Lukoszaite and seeks security and happiness as a workman in the Chicago stockyards. Once there, foremen abuse him, real-estate sharks filch his meager savings, and at every turn he is plagued by the misfortunes arising from poverty, poor working conditions, and disease. Finally, in accordance with Sinclair’s own creed, Rudkus turns to socialism as a way out.

Public Domain (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Originally published in 1906, The Jungle was intended by its author to raise public awareness of the plight of the immigrant working class: the terrible living and working conditions, as well as the endless exploitation they were subjected to. Instead, it was the state of the meat packing industry that the public fixated on, seeming to care more about their food supply than the condition of their fellow man. Sinclair later commented, ”I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

All good intentions aside, The Jungle still served an important service in this country. The methods and condition in the meat packing plants, as reported by Sinclair, who researched the subject by working in a plant undercover, were disgusting to say the least. There were no regulations at all; leaving the owners to do anything they wanted to increase their own profits. President Teddy Roosevelt viewed Sinclair as something of a heretic, not really believing things could be so bad, but nevertheless sent two of his staff to Chicago on an inspection tour. The two men verified nearly everything Sinclair had claimed, and Congress passed the Meat Inspection Act, and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. The end result was the creation of the Bureau of Chemistry, which eventually became the Food and Drug Administration.

The Jungle is the heartbreaking tale of a Lithuanian man who brought his family to America in search of a better life. What he found instead was an endless struggle for existence; a system hopelessly stacked against him and his fellow immigrants. It’s hard to believe things were ever like this in America. It’s especially difficult to swallow when you compare this to other novels of the time, The Great Gatsby, or The Sun Also Rises for instance, novels about the idle rich who have so much money they don’t even know what to do with it. I guess in some ways our country hasn’t changed that much.

Grover Gardner is a good narrator. He doesn’t differentiate between characters very much, but he does good dialects for the foreign characters. He reads at a good pace and his intonation works well.

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Special thanks to Blackstone Audio for this review copy. Audiobook review by Steven Brandt. This audiobook review is based on the unabridged audiobook. Come back soon for more audiobook reviews from Audiobook-Heaven.

1 comment:

joni said...

Since my stomach turns at the very thought of 'meat packing' which really is what turns me against meat to begin with, I'll comment on the immigrants.

My great grand parents were immigrants and I wish I could say they met with a better fate, but it was not so.

America has not changed much in either the meat industry or the immigrant situation.

BUT, this book does sound interesting. :)