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The Road to Wigan Pier

Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
Length: 7 hrs and 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (401 ratings)
Regular price: $20.97
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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.

(P)1993 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

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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.

8 of 8 people found this review 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.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 2 people found this review 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

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Dry and academic, but worthwhile

I read this because it was on my favorite intellectual’s suggested reading list.
The first half of this book is better told in “Germinal” in my opinion, but “Wigan Pier” tells it in a fraction of the time, albeit with a fraction of the style of “Germinal”.
The second half of this book, I guess, shows how even a stunning intellect like Orwell’s could be seduced by the false promises of socialism, especially since this book was written prior to the utter murderous failure of the USSR and Maoist China.
Although, there are plenty of brilliant people who even today believe socialism was just mismanaged in those societies and that “true socialism” is still the answer to most of the suffering in the world, so it’s not like Orwell was the first to be wooed by the promise of a socialist utopia.
I’m not really sure what made this particular book so pivotal to get on a reading list. I suppose if you aren’t yet familiar with the hell miners had to go through in the early 20th century, then this book will fill you in, for sure. It also serves as a window into the mind of one of the greatest authors to ever use the English language.
I feel like “Wigan Pier”, though not a joyous read, will remind me of it’s importance when I recall a passage from it occasionally in the future.
I suppose not every enlightening experience is blissful while it’s happening.
Case-in-point, I imagine Orwell had that thought long before I did.

1 of 1 people found this review 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

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Two books in one

I bought this because Jordon Peterson mentioned it a few times in his lectures and I figured I would buy it. So what I got was something like two books.
The first half of the book is describing the terrible living conditions of people living in Wigan Pier in the North of England circa 1937. Orwell was staying in a lodging house in a room cramped in with several men. Yet the most disgusting thing he described in this house was the food. The man of the house would hand him bread with a dirty looking black thumb on the bread. He also described this same person carrying a chamber pot (where you poop and pee in) with that same thumb resting on the inside of the bowl.
The second half of the book is more a reflection on Socialist in Britain at the time. A critic of Socialists and what they are doing wrong and what's wrong about them. The forward is a critic of this critic. So the forward, by another person, attacks the second part of the book long before you get to it. Anyway, Socialists aren't the only people he seems to have a problem with, he'll include adult Catholic converts like Chesterton, and authors such as HG Wells and DH Lawrence. He also has a healthy dose of criticism for himself and his attitude towards class and his middle class identity that is very much a part of him.
The narrator is wonderful, however I could have sworn I heard some background voices in the recording. Overall the narration was great, because it was in a British accent.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • J
  • 02-03-19

relatable

Current events are re- translated and/or become visible in this journey to Wigan Pier . Because it is historical , the distance of 80 some years allows me to compare it to what I see in the here now.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So very incredible

Orwell is incredible. Need I say more? This book is a fascinating dive in socialism and generally life itself.