THE IRON HEEL - FULL Audio Book - by Jack London - Dystopian Fiction
The Iron Heel - FULL Audio Book - by Jack London - Dystopian Fiction - - The Iron Heel is a dystopian novel by American writer Jack London, first published in 1908. Generally considered to be "the earliest of the modern Dystopian," it chronicles the rise of an oligarchic tyranny in the United States. It is arguably the novel in which Jack London's socialist views are most explicitly on display. A forerunner of soft science fiction novels and stories of the 1960s and 1970s, the book stresses future changes in society and politics while paying much less attention to technological changes.
The book is unusual among London's writings (and in the literature of the time in general) in being a first-person narrative of a woman protagonist written by a man. Much of the narrative is set in the San Francisco Bay Area, including events in San Francisco and Sonoma County.
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Chapter Listing and Length:
00 - Foreword -- 00:08:39
01 - My Eagle -- 00:28:51
02 - Challenges -- 00:27:41
03 - Jackson's Arm -- 00:21:04
04 - Slaves of the Machine -- 00:16:26
05 - The Philomaths -- 00:42:29
06 - Adumbrations -- 00:15:03
07 - The Bishop's Vision -- 00:12:45
08 - The Machine Breakers -- 00:29:13
09 - The Mathematics of a Dream -- 00:32:53
10 - The Vortex -- 00:18:10
11 - The Great Adventure -- 00:15:36
12 - The Bishop -- 00:20:15
13 - The General Strike -- 00:18:23
14 - The Beginning of the End -- 00:16:26
15 - Last Days -- 00:11:02
16 - The End -- 00:19:38
17 - The Scarlet Livery -- 00:17:54
18 - In the Shadow of Sonoma -- 00:16:47
19 - Transformation -- 00:16:55
20 - A Lost Oligarch -- 00:14:42
21 - The Roaring Abysmal Beast -- 00:12:42
22 - The Chicago Commune -- 00:22:59
23 - The People of the Abyss -- 00:24:49
24 - Nightmare -- 00:12:18
25 - The Terrorists -- 00:03:59
More about Jack London's "The Iron Heel" -
The novel is based on the (fictional) "Everhard Manuscript" written by Avis Everhard which she hid and which was subsequently found centuries later. In addition, this novel has an introduction and series of (often lengthy) footnotes written from the perspective of scholar Anthony Meredith. Meredith writes from around 2600 AD or 419 B.O.M. (the Brotherhood of Man). Jack London thus writes at two levels, often having Meredith condescendingly correcting the errors of Everhard yet, at the same time, exposing the often incomplete understanding of this distant future perspective.
Given that The Iron Heel is over a century old, this novel has a somewhat alternate history feel because, as with Orwell's 1984, the dating of these novels is now in the past. Jack London ambitiously predicted a breakdown of the US republic starting a few years past 1908 but various events have caused his predicted future to diverge from actual history. Most crucially, though London placed quite accurately the time when international tensions will reach their peak (1913 in "The Iron Heel", 1914 in actual history), he (like many others at the time) predicted that when this moment came labor solidarity would prevent a war that would include the US, Germany, and other nations. In reality, international solidarity of labor and socialists did not avert war.
Further, London assumed that the Socialist Party would become a mass party in the United States, as the book is based on Marx's view that capitalism was inherently unsustainable. This would precipitate a brutal counter-reaction, with capitalists preserving their power by discarding democracy and instituting a brutal repressive regime. Although this exact scenario never came to pass in the US, where the Socialist Party remained small and marginal, events closely followed London's script elsewhere -- for example in Chile in 1973, where the government of Socialist president Salvador Allende was overthrown by a CIA backed coup and forces led by General Augusto Pinochet.
The assumption of a strong and militant mass Socialist Party emerging in the US was linked with London predicting that the middle class would shrink as monopolistic trusts crushed labor and small to mid-sized businesses. Instead the US Progressive Era led to a breakup of the trusts, notably the application of the Sherman Antitrust Act to Standard Oil in 1911; at the same time, reforms such as labor unions rights passed during the Progressive Era with further reforms during the New Deal of the 1930s. Further, economic prosperity led to dramatic growth of the middle class in the 1920s and after World War II.
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Total running time: 8:17:39
Audio is a Librivox recording. All Librivox recordings are in the public domain.