The Road to Wigan Pier

Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (660 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

When Orwell went to England in the 1930s to find out how industrial workers lived, he not only observed but shared in their experiences. He stayed in cramped, dreary lodgings and subsisted on the scant, cheerless diet of the poor. He went down into the coal mines and walked crouching, as the miners did, through a one- to three-mile passage too low to stand up in. He watched the back-breaking, dangerous labor of men whose net pay then averaged $575 a year. And he knew the unemployed, those who had been out of work for so long they had sunk beyond despair into an inhuman apathy.

In this searing yet beautiful account of life on the bottom rung, Orwell asks himself why Socialism - which alone, he felt, could rescue human values from the ravages of industrialism - had so little appeal. His answer is a harsh critique of the Socialism and Socialists of his time.

Public Domain (P)1993 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What listeners say about The Road to Wigan Pier

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Frederick Davidson's a Great Reader

A fantastic book (particularly if you are interested in the history of political debates on the left). Well narrated. This is what it says it is. I loved it.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Not what I expected.

Orwell: An honest, thoughtful Socialist. I, being born in 1962, have yet to meet one of these rare animals.

The 1920s and 1930s were the progressive era. From my view, he can be forgiven for his optomism, based as it was on genuine love for his fellow man and coming, as it did before Chinese and Soviet atrocities made it frighteningly clear that his premonition that Socialism and Fascism were (twin) sisters was not just accurate but unavoidable.

I'd read Orwell long ago. What I had no inkling of was that I'd catch a whiff of P.J. O'Rourke in his humor, particularly in a book devoted to the serious issues examined in Wiggan Pier.

Loved the book.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Socialism

Written in the mid '30s Orwell interprets and then comments on the mindset of England at the pivotal point of their metamorphosis into a partner of the European family from a bully leadership role. As ever, Orwell's insight is stunning

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

An Interesting Social Commentary

I'm a fan of dystopian novels so I decided to give Orwell's nonfiction work a shot. I was pleasantly surprised with his commentary on the state of the English working class and socialism in the 1930s. The description of the work day and home life of the working class was quite interesting and eye opening, as was Orwell's commentary on the ills of society.

Some of the book was geared toward English society and more applicable to a nation with a long history and more definitive class structure. Other statements still applied to current U.S. society, including some of his foreboding predictions (like eating unhealthy foods becoming the new fatal disease). I was fascinated with his foresight yet appalled at the same time that someone noticed this 70 years ago yet nothing was to head off or solve the problems.

The narrator had a great accent and made the book come alive. Thoroughly enjoyed the book and the narrator. I will look for more books read by this narrator.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Just wow

Unmatched analysis of the socialist class, and how amazing it is that this was written so long ago

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

What is with all of the background noise?

This is a fantastic novel. I loved every second of it, and Frederick Davidson is a perfect narrator. However, starting in mid-Chapter 2, there was constant background noise. It sounded like a random male speaking/mumbling in the background. Not sure why or how come, but it was unfortunately extremely distracting.

1 person found this helpful

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Wow scary accurate

Orwell's observations and social commentary is just as accurate today as in the 1930's. Its like he is reading my mind and is describing my everyday surrounds albeit less dire. Well worth the read and in an amazing voice that is very comprehensible at x1.5.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Best read in the full context of Orwell

A well written book with great insight on the living conditions of the early 20th century and the overall political movement of that time. A very Pro-Socialist, Anti-Facist message was given by Orwell in his earlier books like this one. Orwell was spot on about Fascism and what it would do to Europe, but it is an interesting look at his early views on Socialism, a political view he would later begin to reject. This is why I would highly suggest this read (or listen), but I would make sure to read his other books after this one to make sure you understand the full context and evolution of Orwell's views on politics and culture.

1 person found this helpful

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Admittedly splendid even for Socialist tendencies

I rather agree with Orwell on the merits of treating working class much better and the one of many things wrong with Socialist reasoning is the Socialists themselves since all things that crave to eliminate classes always tends to create new tribes of oppression to deal with helping which do more harm in a perverse and horrible way as was Orwell’s theme in this book. He even points to Soviet dealings which took Socialism mixed with Marxist ideas to get Communist Authoritarian shenanigans that ultimately led to millions being slaughtered all while the intellectuals thought Lenin was a “swell” guy.
Fundamental reading for back then and more now than ever in our day and age of radical extreme left and right views.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Annoying Narrator

Would you try another book from George Orwell and/or Frederick Davidson?

not Frederick Davidson

What other book might you compare The Road to Wigan Pier to and why?

Don't know.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrator's voice was almost farcically sneering and comically upper-crust. But it wasn't meant to be a satire.

Could you see The Road to Wigan Pier being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

I have no idea.

10 people found this helpful