This book would have been a 5 star read, but, alas, the last 10% of the book turned into a lecture about the utopian world as visualized by a Socialist.
I found the book fascinating in a macabre way as the author explores the world of the immigrant worker in America. The working conditions of our ancestors should not be viewed through the shiny lenses of the "good old days." Farmers had it tough, but the working conditions of the mines and factories was horrific. Although it is hard to believe that one man could suffer all the horrible things our hero suffered, the depictions are probably more accurate than we want to believe. The working conditions of the meat plant were revolting. The food contamination worse. The corruption of politicians...hasn't changed. The tricking of foreigners...hasn't changed. The sexual abuse of women...hasn't changed. However, working conditions have changed, at least for now. This book is MUST reading for all those people who believe that corporations can regulate themselves. Many babble about how deregulation is good for our country. As long as making money is the main goal of a business, there is little or no incentive to care about workers.
The last part of the book I found boring. I see the appeal for socialism during that time period, but to lecture the reader about the philosophy ruined the ending.
The author wrote this book to show the horrible working and living conditions of immigrants and how they were tricked and defrauded by almost everyone around them, including politicians and business owners. He hoped to improve the lot of the working family. There were changes after its publication, but not because there was sympathy for the working class. People were horrified about the filth in the meat packing industry and how their food was contaminated. Changes were made because society is basically selfish. This was the analysis of Sinclair himself who admitted his celebrity arose "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef."