The People of the Abyss

The People of the Abyss

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'With passion and vision, he used his skill as a journalist to expose the horrors of the Abyss to the world ...Poverty is war, and it rages on with no end in sight, and the management is still guilty of mismanaging the wealth. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the People of the Abyss are among us today.' Tarnel Abbott, Great-granddaughter of Jack London 'With this reprinting of London's incredibly important and readable book, Pluto Press and London remind us of how economic exploitation must always be fought, that we must always be educated in the lives of the unfortunate.' James Williams, editor and publisher of the Jack London Journal 'This book helped shatter the smug composure of Edwardian England, as well as providing a transatlantic best seller.' Professor William J. Fishman, Queen Mary and Westfield College The People of the Abyss is a classic work about poverty and recounts the time the author spent in London. Jack London (1876-1916), at his peak, was the most popular of all living writers. Born in San Francisco, he became a political activist and socialist at an early age. Written after posing as an American sailor stranded in the East End of London during 1902 - sleeping in doss houses, living with the destitute and starving - this is perhaps Jack London's most important work. As well as being a literary masterpiece, The People of the Abyss stands as a major sociological study. While other American writers were blindly celebrating the glories of the British Empire at its peak, Jack London was asking why such misery was to be found in the heart of a capital city of immense wealth. This is a work of reportage rather than propaganda - London lets his observations speak for themselves. Published to coincide with the centenary of his visit to the East End, this important book is an incredible precursor to the writings of George Orwell, and remains a standard-bearer critique of capitalism, as powerful today as it was then. This edition includes a new introduction that contextualises London's social writings and shows their contemporary relevance.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 192 pages
  • 134 x 210 x 14mm | 281.23g
  • PLUTO PRESS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Centenary ed
  • 0745318029
  • 9780745318028
  • 1,149,559

About Jack London

Jack London (1876-1916) was born in San Francisco and became a political activist and socialist at an early age. His first real literary success came in 1903 with The Call of the Wild, which became an immediate bestseller.show more

Review quote

'No other book of mine took so much of my young heart and tears as that study of the economic degradation of the poor.' Jack London; 'At a time of heightened concern about the poor and homeless on the streets of London, the re-appearance of The People of the Abyss is to be welcomed. It is a complex text combining awkwardly a passionate critique of modern civilisation with a rhetoric of racial degeneration, but it is one that resonates disturbingly with much contemporary comment on the problem.' John Marriott, University of East London 'It is written with the smoldering anger of turn-of-the-century revolutionary socialism. There are no gray shadings in London's economic world. There is only the evil of capitalism and the saintly suffering of the poor. The rich had had their stories told in mass periodicals, and London felt it was time to let the ignored speak. He thus wrote the biographies of the people who have been exploited by imperialism and capitalism. This is the book that counters the Horatio Alger story. For every Alger, for every Rockefeller, there is a mass of sufferers whose plight enabled the speedy rise to wealth of a few. In its sociological and journalistic documentation of poverty is a call for direct action. Wealth blinds, and London makes us see. With this reprinting of London's incredibly important and readable book, Pluto Press and London remind us of how economic exploitation must always be fought, that we must always be educated in the lives of the unfortunate.' James Williams, editor and publisher of the Jack London Journal 'During my youth I walked the streets of East London, following in the footsteps of Jack London. He brought back, so movingly to this young reader, the poverty and suffering as well as the laughter and tears manifest in the outcasts and dispossessed of our locale at that time. Together with the revelations of Charles Booth, G.R. Sims et al, that book helped shatter the smug composure of Edwardian England, as well as providing a transatlantic best seller.' Professor William J. Fishman, Queen Mary and Westfield College 'In 1902, Jack London, posing as an out-of-work sailor, went underground into the belly of the beast: the slums of London's East End. With passion and vision, he used his skill as a journalist to expose the horrors of the Abyss to the world. Because of his ability to blend in with working people and put them at their ease, because he donned their clothing, and spent nights on the street--working odd jobs, sleeping in the homeless shelters--he gained an insight into the slum life which remains unique. By interweaving the personal stories of the people he encountered with political analysis, he produced a vibrant work of nonfiction, which remains relevant to this day. Consider the following: about one in five children in the U.S. live in poverty. Poverty is war, and it rages on with no end in sight, and the management is still guilty of mismanaging the wealth. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the People of the Abyss are among us today.' Tarnel Abbott, Great-granddaughter of Jack London, Contributing Editor, Jack London International (www.jack.london.org)show more

Rating details

2,183 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 31% (686)
4 42% (906)
3 23% (494)
2 4% (80)
1 1% (17)
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