The People of the Abyss

The People of the Abyss

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The People of the Abyss is a classic work about poverty and recounts the time the author spent in London. 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 - London lets his observations speak for themselves. A precursor to the writings of George Orwell, this book remains a standard-bearer critique of capitalism, as powerful today as it was then.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 192 pages
  • 135 x 215 x 20.32mm | 430.91g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Centenary ed
  • 0745318037
  • 9780745318035

Table of contents



1. The Descent

2. Johnny Upright

3. My Lodging and Some Others

4. A Man and the Abyss

5. Those on the Edge

6. Frying-Pan Alley and a Glimpse of the Inferno

7. A Winner of the Victoria Cross

8. The Carter and the Carpenter

9. The Spike

10. Carrying the Banner

11. The Peg

12. Coronation Day

13. Dan Cullen, Docker

14. Hops and Hoppers

15. The Sea Wife

16. Property Versus Person

17. Inefficiency

18. Wages

19. The Ghetto

20. Coffee-Houses and Doss-Houses

21. The Precariousness of Life

22. Suicide

23. The Children

24. A Vision of the Night

25. The Hunger Wall

26. Drink, Temperance, and Thrift

27. The Management
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Review quote

'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 bestseller' -- Professor William J. Fishman, Queen Mary and Westfield College 'Written with the smoldering anger of turn-of-the-century revolutionary socialism. An incredibly important and readable book, which reminds us of how economic exploitation must always be fought, that we must always be educated in the lives of the unfortunate' -- Jack London Journal
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About Jack London

Jack London (1876-1916) was an American novelist, journalist, and social activist. His first real literary success came in 1903 with The Call of the Wild, which became an immediate bestseller. With a passionate advocate of unionisation and socialism, he authored works of non-fiction, such as The People of the Abyss (Pluto, 2001) and short stories such as Revolution and other Essays (Pluto, 1991).
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Rating details

2,553 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 32% (819)
4 41% (1,050)
3 22% (574)
2 3% (89)
1 1% (21)
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