The world has suffered many disillusionments before, but few times has its hounded denizens been more uniformly beset than in the years following WW II. Here we had finished a war of liberation, fought on the most massive scale imaginable, and at its conclusion delivered over to Russian or Chinese Communist control hundreds of millions of unconsenting citizens.
Many saw the magnitude of this error, but it was Orwell who pointed out what we might become in combating the menace to our freedom. In his vision of 1984, we have grown as ruthless and manipulative as our enemies, callously uncaring of personal and individual freedoms, all in the name of the freedom and democracy we profess to defend.
Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell's nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff's attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell's prescience of modern life--the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language--and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.