George Orwell's "1984," a novel about a dystopian future where a mind-and-information controlling government rules England, has become the top-selling book on Amazon.com.

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English lit teachers must be having their moment of vindication this morning – George Orwell’s “1984” is the No. 1 best-selling book on Amazon.com.  The English journalist/novelist’s vision of a dystopian future in which England is in thrall to a mind-and-information controlling government has been perceived as, well, prescient, if you’re nervous about President Donald Trump’s crackdown on government employees’ freedom to to speak their mind.

Whether you are anti-Trump or pro-Trump, “1984” is well worth a read – Orwell was a seasoned journalist, essayist and war correspondent, known for his fidelity to the truth. Link that up to a great story, and you have a classic piece of literature.

Here are some other things-are-going-to-hell literary classics:

  • “The Plot Against America” by Philip Roth. This alternative history was published in 2004 by Roth, a superb writer. It imagines this scenario: a racist demagogue wins the presidency with the slogan “America First”. Moreover, “America has gone fascist and ordinary life has been flattened under a steamroller of national politics and mass hatreds,” wrote the New York Times.“Hitler’s allies rule the White House. Anti-Semitic mobs roam the streets. The lower-middle-class Jews of Weequahic, in Newark, N.J., cower in a second-floor apartment, trying to figure out how to use a gun to defend themselves.”
  • The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. In this novel by the Canadian novelist, a Far Right regime has taken control of a near-Future New England. Women are controlled, unable to have jobs and money and are assigned to various classes – chaste and childless Wives, housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who are forced to turn their children over to the Wives.
  • “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury. OK, maybe you read it in the seventh grade, but this fable of book burning by a repressive regime is well worth revisiting. Bradbury was a fantastic writer.
  • “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley. Another vision of total utopian mind control by Huxley, an English novelist-philosopher, this novel was published in 1932, during a depression and period of massive job loss. Huxley imagined what might happen if the country’s longing for stability was taken to extremes.
  • “Homage to Catalonia” by George Orwell. Not a dystopian novel, but you will understand some of where Orwell got his vision after reading this book, his memoir of covering the doomed Republic during the Spanish Civil War. It’s a true story, and Orwell’s integrity shines through on every page.

 

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