George Orwell – Animal Farm (Book Review)

animal farm orwell book coverOpening Line: Mr Jones, of the manor farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the pop-holes.

Book Cover Blurb: Animal Farm is a satirical allegory on the Russian Revolution. It tells the simple and tragic story of what happens when the oppressed farm rebel to attain freedom from Mr. Jones. It is about their attempt to rule the farm themselves on the basis of equality.

The animals had initially aimed to form a utopian society, where each would work according to his capacity, respecting the needs of the others. But, they failed to do so. And, Animal Farm ended up being a dictatorship of the pigs that were the brightest, but did no physical work in reality.

Genre: Classic / Politics

Sample Passage:

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.

Review

Another book where I had a vague sense of knowing what would happen, having read about it or watched something familiar when I was a wee boy. Then again, it might have been Charlotte’s Web or Babe.

Having finally completed Animal Farm (for the first time as it happens), I was transfixed by the simple story and how it developed. Although it was written some seventy years ago (!), and was a critique of the Russian inversion of the Socialist/Communist regime at the time, there is a lot in here that still resonates today about Western society.

The animal characters leap off the page and are easily identifiable. The Dictator Napoleon and his right hand man(pig) Snowball acting as his loyal and persuasive ‘Spin’ Doctor (Weapons of Mass Destruction anyone?). Their ring of security, fierce dogs borne into the position devoid of empathy (police brutality anyone?) flank them at every opportunity and keep the other animals firmly in check.

animal farm orwell pigsBoxer, the strapping horse, representative of the working class hero – an optimist even under impossible working conditions with long hours and little reward. The sheep (mass media), programmed by their (corporate) owners to convince an unsuspecting public into believing the lie repeating it ad nauseam in catchy sound bites until it is perceived as truth (War on Terror anyone?).

There is so much more in this book than meets the eye, and it reads beautifully. The themes of corruption, greed and propaganda are all woven within the text but on the surface it is a dark and humorous read especially as the ruling pigs began to take on human characteristics and distort history to paint themselves in a better light.

I was expecting a very heavy, political commentary that would be hard to get through but dressed in this allegorical form it wasn’t off putting and really absorbed my attention.

Overall, a truly powerful but simple story and warning of the excess and greed of our times. Politicians take note!


 

Author: George Orwell
Other Books Written:
1984, Down and Out in Paris and London
Time to Complete:
3 Days
Interesting Fact:
The farm setting was inspired by a ten year old boy who Orwell saw whipping a carthorse whenever it tried to turn – “It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.” (source)
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Next Book
: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Süskind
Part of the BBC Big Read 100 List

pathfinders chapter 1

image credit carra-lucia-books.co.uk, penguinbooksindia.com

23 thoughts on “George Orwell – Animal Farm (Book Review)

  • Great book, I agree. So true that when you remove that which is in power, you must be careful not to become that which you despise…or worse. We see it time and again in so many countries…have you read 1984? That is another great one by the same author.

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  • I have never read this book. I thought about it though especially since I liked reading 1984 by George Orwell.

    Other stories that I like, that are about political Satires about Russia are a Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Tolstoy and Dead Souls by (I can’t think of his name off the top of my head…sorry). Never the less, I love well thought out political satires.

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  • Animal Farm is my all time favorite book. And I consider it a primer before reading 1984.

    Animal Farm shows you how we get “there,” while 1984 shows you what it’s like to live in a society once we do get “there.” (“There” being a Socialist dystopia that seems to keep rearing its ugly head in world affairs no matter how many times it’s been proven to be evil and no matter how many millions of lives it has claimed.)

    Both books should be required reading.

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    • Absolutely J.L. It’s been a while since I read 1984. Looking forward to getting back into it. Hard to find books nowadays that are both brilliant in their storytelling ability, yet on so many levels a frightening theme that resonates just as powerfully now as it did when it was written. Thanks so much for commenting.

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  • You are scratching where I itch, Aidan. I often lament the fact that it’s “hard to find books nowadays that are both brilliant in their storytelling,” yet “resonates” with me long after I turn the last page.

    I want to read entertaining stories with depth, that are not only told well but leave me thinking, so I write what I want to read. It’s my own personal standard and it’s what I strive for in my own writing.

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  • Animal Farm was the book I was told to read in high school, never did, then forgot about. Until I started to get into politics. A few months ago it hit me that Animal Farm was something I really should read. I signed up for Audible just for the one book. I don’t regret it. Orwell did a great job of making the story just shocking enough to scare me a little bit when I remembered, “Oh god, this was a real regime.”

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  • I’d forgotten about Snowball. He really would be at home in modern Britain, wouldn’t he… I feel like re-reading this now, as I’ve learned a lot more about the USSR in the meantime. Be interesting to see what went over my head the first time.

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  • I read Animal Farm in 7th grade and Orwell’s ‘1984’ in High School. I remember both being a bit scary but brilliant. You have inspired me to give it another read as agree with davidbreslin101- it would be interesting to see what my takeaways would be now that I am older and hopefully wiser! – Kristin

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