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Animal Farm  By  cover art

Animal Farm

By: George Orwell
Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
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Editorial review


By Seth Hartman, Audible Editor

ANIMAL FARM IS STILL THE GOLD STANDARD OF POLITICAL SATIRE

Like many American public school goers, I was introduced to Animal Farm at the ripe old age of 13. While I was, by all accounts, a novice when it came to world history, it didn’t take me long to realize that there was something special about this book. While the setting of a farm was certainly familiar territory to me, this was no nursery rhyme.

With other books to his name—most notably, 1984—George Orwell made no bones about his political opinions. Using adorable farm animals, this scathing allegory depicts an interpretation of the Bolshevik uprising and ensuing Russian Revolution. While revolution can bring hope, Orwell shows the darker implications of political upheaval and the reality of changing regimes. Ultimately, this book is about a futile quest for equality amidst political turmoil.

It is really difficult not to feel optimistic when a group of subservient creatures manages to take out the tyrannical farmer. However, Orwell illustrates that it takes more than revolution to establish a fair system of governance. The power vacuum that is created in the farmer’s absence can be felt by all of the animals, and it doesn’t take long for someone to step up. In a not-so-subtle piece of parallel imagery, the pigs are the animals that manage to seize control of the farm after the uprising takes place. While they seem to rule with a more pro-animal outlook than the farmer did, it doesn’t take long for the true colors of their leader, Napoleon, to show.

Above all else, Animal Farm is a cautionary tale. George Orwell seems to be of the opinion that no governing body is capable of providing true equality to its subjects. Unfortunately, there haven’t been too many real-life governments that have pulled this off. While this book is specifically satirizing Soviet communism, many of the issues presented within these pages still apply to this day. Now that I am a few years older with more historical knowledge under my belt, listening to this book again has given me an even deeper look into Orwell’s twisted world. Ralph Cosham's smooth narration doesn't hurt either, adding an extra dimension to the book.

I think it is so important that Animal Farm remains a staple title for young students to read. While some may interpret Orwell’s vision as purely anti-communist, history has made it clear that the messaging within is more widely applicable. I would never accuse this book of being a light read, but the whip-fast pacing and biting satire make it an incredibly enjoyable one. Long live Orwell!

Continue reading Seth's review >

Publisher's summary

George Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture, quoted so often that we tend to forget who wrote the original words. It is an account of the bold struggle that transforms Mr. Jones' Manor Farm into Animal Farm, a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal. Out of their cleverness, the pigs Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball emerge as leaders of the new community in a subtle evolution that bears an insidious familiarity. The climax is the brutal betrayal of the faithful horse Boxer, when totalitarian rule is re-established with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.
To supplement the full text version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, listen to the SparkNotes Guide for Animal Farm.
©1946 Harcourt Brace and Jovanich, Inc. (P)1991 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"A wise, compassionate, and illuminating fable of our times....The steadiness and lucidity of Orwell's merciless wit are reminiscent of Anatole France and even of Swift." (The New York Times Book Review)

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What listeners say about Animal Farm

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

If you hate spoilers, save the intro for last.

Animal Farm is great, as is the narrator. I'd give this audio book 5 stars, however, the intro chapter summarizes, analyzes, and basically spoils the entire book. It's as if they assume everyone has already read this book. I hate spoilers and was infuriated when the narrator began talking about characters and the plot. I turned it off as fast as I could.

Get this audio book, but skip the introduction chapter and come back to it at the end.

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730 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Required Reading

One of my summer reading projects was to re-read Animal Farm and 1984, having read them many years ago while in high school.

Animal Farm should be required reading. It wraps so many truths in such a small package. It is an absolute classic for many good reasons.

What stands out about the story is how it, or parts of it, keep repeating themselves. The sheep bleating "four legs good, two legs bad" when shouting down any dissent can't help but remind one of "debates" on cable news channels. Blaming everything bad on Snowball is reminiscent of our politicians repeatedly demonizing and blaming every failure on their predecessors. And there is so much more.

The central message is that power corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Although that quote is not attributable to Orwell, "'All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" captures the theme in a perhaps more memorable manner.

Read this book again. You won't be sorry.

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88 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Never trust a pig!

Okay, that is not the message of George Orwell's Animal Farm. This classic story was released 72 years ago and remains relevant today. I purchased this audio book to listen to Ralph Cosham narrate one of my favorite books. Cosham, who died in 2014, never disappoints.

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76 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

What I expected, nothing more

This is obviously a classic and if you are reading it, you probably know what you are getting into. I did not like the prologue though. As someone who has never read the book, I did not want to hear analysis of the book BEFORE I read the book. The social, political, and historical context provided in the prologue, however, was useful. When you apply the satire to today’s politics, the correlations are scary.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Just great!

I am sixty years old now and haven't read Animal Farm since I was a teen. Visiting this old treasure had much more of an impact than reading it long ago. It is even more relevant in this day and age. The narrator is wonderful and you can't not admire Orwell's knack for making you think deeply while at the same time entertaining you to the fullest. This was one of my favorite purchases from audible.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • mk
  • 09-13-11

Absolutely brilliant

I first read this in the 80's when my native Czechoslovakia was still an Animal Farm. I appreciate Orwell's foresight even more, now that most of Eastern Europe is back to Manor Farms - with "reconciliation" with the West proceeding almost exactly as predicted in the final chapter.

Narration is good and the easy British accent fits well with the setting and Orwell's overall sardonic tone.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great book!

One of my favorite books of all time, this book is an absolute classic. Makes me wonder what would have happened if Snowball (Trotsky) had been put in charge instead of Napoleon (A.K.A. Stalin).?.

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28 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Alagory for Every Age.

Where does Animal Farm rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

While I've spent more time and fallen more deeply in love with other books available on audible, this book will continue to be one I concidder a Must Read for absolutely Everyone. Short, self contained, and deeply representative, it is a novel that is within Everyone's powers to understand on some level and is one I would concidder every acknowledged 'Authority' lesser for having never read.
Much attention is given to the suggestivity of using this novel to investigate the Russian Revolution, and indeed it is perhaps deeply congruous with those events, but I cannot help but feel that anyone who sees it as Only Representative of that event Miss the deeper, universal connotations.
While I find myself wondering at exactly which age such a novel would carry the most impact, I cannot help but think it worthy Required Reading for Anyone.
Not a distinction I can make of many novels I love, but one which this novel so completely embodies that I cannot think of it in any other light.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I find the novel unique in alagory in that None of the characters are entirely without faults. Every Animal, and indeed even the human characters are shown to have both positive and negative traits... While many animals Try to act in ways that appear to be the most goodly, many of them fall prey to their own predictability and ignorance. Likewise, the slow corruption and evolution toward evilness by the 'bad' characters can likewise be explained and forgiven...
I suppose I am left instead with a respect and identification with the donkey, who's long life and fatalistic approaches, while frustrating at first, prove to be in the end the most accurate.
I take issue with the cynicism that he represents, and am discouraged by his vindication through the eventual outcome, but cannot help but find myself seeing him as the only riteous character...
the rock that remains unchanged in the tummult...

Which character – as performed by Ralph Cosham – was your favorite?

I had not a favorite, but I found the Vanity of the Horse character to be well embodied... while she hid from danger, spirited away goods, and spent far too long looking at herself and wanting frivolities to aid her vanity, I found myself more and more hating her 'kind' in general... portreying a vain horse so clearly is not an undertaking I would choose to take on myself and is one he accomplished admirably.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Which Kind of Animal are You?
It seems that the whole gambit of human reaction and social type manages to get represented in the novel, despite the incongruity of using so very many different shapes and skills of animal to do so, and I, as a reader, find myself wondering what sorts of traits I would myself exibit... which side indeed would I be on?

Any additional comments?

The novel begins with a relatively short and dense introduction which delves into the symbolism of the novel and it's catagorisation... I would have preferred that to have been moved to the end... while I had been somewhat familliar with the book ahead of time, it made for a lot of dense data to absorb first thing and somewhat distractedly seguayed right into the book... if you weren't careful you'd miss it... moreover, the discussions raised and points covered so early on tended to be lost on me later in the novel...
Perhaps skipping ahead to the novel and returning to that portion afterward would be a better way of addressing it... perhaps not... just a thought...
An excelently done bit of writing and Never Ever to Be Missed!!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BAD

BEASTS OF ENGLAND
This is simply one of the best books ever written, especially if you know your history. Orwell tells so much without being preachy. When I was a freshman in High School this was required reading in Freshman English. I moved my sophomore year and this was required reading in Sophomore English. I usually hated any reading, especially required, but I did not mind this story. This satire and the subject matter has stuck with me all these years. I have even seen on a smaller scale this sort of story play out at businesses I have worked. This should be read by everyone in the world and reread. You want the more adult version, than read 1984. That is another great read.

The narrator was excellent

FOUR LEGS GOOD, TWO LEGS BETTER

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Timeless classic

This is a great social commentary about human behavior using animals. The narration was outstanding. I will definitely will give this another listen.

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19 people found this helpful