1984 – by George Orwell (1949)

1984

It’s the novel that people have been reading and talking about for over sixty years. Written after World War II, it portrays a society run by a totalitarian government. Citizens are under constant surveillance at work, on the street, and in their homes. There is no way to opt out of the monitoring. The government tells you what to do, where to go, and what to think.

Winston, the main character in the story, is a simple man who has a government job with the Ministry Of Truth. Ironically, the agency he works for exchanges the truth for whatever they want the common people to believe. Newspapers and history books are constantly being re-written, and as time passes, everyone – at least almost everyone – accepts the altered version. As long as Winston does his job, never disagrees with anything, and toes the government line, he is fine. But when he begins to question the truth, and yearns for freedom to do as he pleases, he finds himself in serious trouble.

This book is as timely now as it was in 1949. The struggle between government and individual freedom has always existed. We enjoy relative freedom in the United States, but many of our liberties are being taken away. “1984” is a chilling reminder of what happens when government is allowed too much power.

Animal Farm – by George Orwell (1945)

Animal Farm

Ever think that if you were in charge of your city hall, things would run smoother? Or maybe if you were the boss at work, things would be much more efficient? Maybe if you were the chairman of the college board, policies would be more fair for everyone.

“Animal Farm” is a tale about a group of animals on a farm who decide that they could do a better job than the owner, Farmer Jones. So they organize, and overthrow the farmer. He flees, leaving the animals to care for and govern themselves. At first the animal leaders have everyone’s best interests at heart. But it doesn’t take long before power begins to corrupt the leaders, and they are soon no better than Farmer Jones.

George Orwell originally wrote this book as a protest against England’s alliance with the Soviet Union and Stalin during World War II. Although he wrote it during the winter of 1943-1944, it was rejected by a number of publishers before being accepted and published in 1945. World War II has been over for decades, but this book still does an excellent job of showing how power changes and corrupts almost everyone in a high position.