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Written more than 70 years ago, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, his dystopian vision of a government that will do anything to control the narrative is timelier than ever...

• Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read •

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

Winston Smith toes the Party line, rewriting history to satisfy the demands of the Ministry of Truth. With each lie he writes, Winston grows to hate the Party that seeks power for its own sake and persecutes those who dare to commit thoughtcrimes. But as he starts to think for himself, Winston can’t escape the fact that Big Brother is always watching...

A startling and haunting novel, 1984 creates an imaginary world that is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the novel’s hold on the imaginations of whole generations, or the power of its admonitions—a power that seems to grow, not lessen, with the passage of time.

About the Author

George Orwell (pseudonym for Eric Blair [1903-50]) was born in Bengal and educated at Eton; after service with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, he returned to Europe to earn his living penning novels and essays. He was essentially a political writer who focused his attention on his own times, a man of intense feelings and intense hates. An opponent of totalitarianism, he served in the Loyalist forces in the Spanish Civil War. Besides his classic Animal Farm, his works include a novel based on his experiences as a colonial policeman, Burmese Days, two firsthand studies of poverty, Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier, an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia; and the extraordinary novel of political prophecy whose title became part of our language, 1984.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

ONE

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

The hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats. At one end of it a colored poster, too large for indoor display, had been tacked to the wall. It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a meter wide: the face of a man of about forty-five, with a heavy black mustache and ruggedly handsome features. Winston made for the stairs. It was no use trying the lift. Even at the best of times it was seldom working, and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week. The flat was seven flights up, and Winston, who was thirty-nine, and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle, went slowly, resting several times on the way. On each landing, opposite the lift shaft, the poster with the enormous face gazed from the wall. It was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Inside the flat a fruity voice was reading out a list of figures which had something to do with the production of pig iron. The voice came from an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall. Winston turned a switch and the voice sank somewhat, though the words were still distinguishable. The instrument (the telescreen, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely. He moved over to the window: a smallish, frail figure, the meagerness of his body merely emphasized by the blue overalls which were the uni- form of the Party. His hair was very fair, his face naturally sanguine, his skin roughened by coarse soap and blunt razor blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended.

Outside, even through the shut window pane, the world looked cold. Down in the street little eddies of wind were whirling dust and torn paper into spirals, and though the sun was shining and the sky a harsh blue, there seemed to be no color in anything except the posters that were plastered every- where. The black-mustachio’d face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston’s own. Down at street level another poster, torn at one corner, flapped fitfully in the wind, alternately covering  and  uncovering the single word INGSOC. In the far distance a helicopter skimmed down between the roofs, hovered for an instant like a blue-bottle, and darted away again with a curving flight. It was the Police Patrol, snooping into people’s windows. The patrols did not matter, however. Only the Thought Police mattered.

Behind Winston’s back the voice from the telescreen was still babbling away about pig iron and the overfulfillment of the Ninth Three-Year Plan. The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live— did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

Winston kept his back turned to the telescreen. It was safer; though, as he well knew, even a back can be revealing. A kilometer away the Ministry of Truth, his place of work, towered vast and white above the grimy landscape. This, he thought with a sort of vague distaste—this was London, chief city of Airstrip One, itself the third most populous of the provinces of Oceania. He tried to squeeze out some childhood memory that should tell him whether London had always been quite like this. Were there always these vistas of rotting nineteenth- century houses, their sides shored up with balks of timber, their windows patched with cardboard and their roofs with corrugated iron, their crazy garden walls sagging in all directions? And the bombed sites where the plaster dust swirled in the air and the willow herb straggled over the heaps of rubble; and the places where the bombs had cleared a larger path and there had sprung up sordid colonies of wooden dwellings like chicken houses? But it was no use, he could not remember: nothing remained of his childhood except a series of bright-lit tableaux, occurring against no background and mostly unintelligible.

The Ministry of Truth—Minitrue, in Newspeak*—was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, three hundred meters into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:

WAR IS PEACE FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.

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Top reviews from the United States

Truth Seeker
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Message To Young Readers Who Have Been Assigned This Book
Reviewed in the United States on June 16, 2018
This is one of the first books I have read more than once. I first read "1984" in 1985 and now for the second time in 2018. The book has remained the same, but both the world and I have not. I cannot begin to convey how genuinely frightening this book is. I am a... See more
This is one of the first books I have read more than once. I first read "1984" in 1985 and now for the second time in 2018. The book has remained the same, but both the world and I have not. I cannot begin to convey how genuinely frightening this book is. I am a lover of popular science fiction and am astounded by Orwell''s ability to be more compelling, entertaining and engrossing than authors with the benefit of light sabers, phasers and teleportation.

To every young person who has been assigned this book, know that you are reading a literary work of art. Many of you will understand and appreciate it, but if you love literature, please make a mental note to read this again when you are older. Youth brings with it eternal hope, boundless optimism and of course, hormones, so you will find yourself rebelling against the pessimism of the book itself - you will effectively be Winston raging against the machine, hoping, searching, questing for a way out. In short, you will cheat.

But when you get older, have a family, lose loved ones and see some of your dreams unfulfilled - when you witness entire nations and races of peoples born, live and die in brutal squalor - when you reflect on the technological advances made over the decades and gaze, with mouth agape, at how a people can be less advanced, less informed and less enlightened, not despite these innovations, but BECAUSE of them, then you will read 1984 as it was meant to be read...not as a dark, dystopian world you enter when you open the book, but a beautifully brutal warning that, even as you read it, is prophetically coming true around you.
3,340 people found this helpful
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Liz Benn
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Extremely important & relevant!!
Reviewed in the United States on July 4, 2020
Over 70 years ago Orwell predicted exactly what is happening in the USA today. His brilliant instincts for our future were uncanny. Our country is under assault right now (& has been) by “Big Brother” - ie. communism. Every thought is controlled from all media to removal... See more
Over 70 years ago Orwell predicted exactly what is happening in the USA today. His brilliant instincts for our future were uncanny. Our country is under assault right now (& has been) by “Big Brother” - ie. communism. Every thought is controlled from all media to removal of our history & heritage to absolute destruction of our laws & erasing of our real history. This was required reading when I was in HS in 1968 & it should be again today. Do yourself a favor & read this before Amazon takes it off their list of books. I doubt they’ll publish this review. Let’s see.
1,012 people found this helpful
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Earl Frieman Patterson, Jr.
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Missing Pages
Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2019
Ordered this book for a 9th grade class reading project. Was not happy when we got to page 148 and discovered that pages 149-180 were missing.
398 people found this helpful
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Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Does 2+2 really equal 4?
Reviewed in the United States on December 1, 2017
1984 is a thrilling classic novel by George Orwell that brings readers into a dystopian society where citizens know “Big brother is watching you.” (Orwell 2) The book follows Winston Smith as he secretly denounces the all-powerful government, Big Brother, and decides to... See more
1984 is a thrilling classic novel by George Orwell that brings readers into a dystopian society where citizens know “Big brother is watching you.” (Orwell 2) The book follows Winston Smith as he secretly denounces the all-powerful government, Big Brother, and decides to live a daring life of scandals and secrets. As expected, Big Brother catches Winston, and tortures him ruthlessly until he is a shell of his former self. Although the storyline itself is exhilarating enough to make readers want to turn the next page, it’s really the larger message that makes this read so worthwhile: extreme political philosophies, like Big Brothers’ totalitarianism, are no good. I will admit at times I felt I didn’t even like Winston, like when he first saw Julia, his lover, and told her “I hated the sight of you...I wanted to rape you and then murder you afterwards.” which shows misogyny in the most unsettling way, and when he kept dismally repeating that “there was no escape” from death because of his love affair (Orwell 120, 152). Regardless of whether or not the characters are relatable, the book definitely serves as a cautionary tail to all those who have scanned it pages. This book has many horrifying elements and scenes, such as telescreens, the things constantly watching people even in their own homes. Newspeak, Big Brother’s official language, is also very unsettling, as the government controls what people say and think without them realizing it, because the words to think bad thoughts do not even exist. However, limited language and stalking screens are nothing compared to the awful dehumanization that Big Brother inflicts on those who don’t agree with them. When brought to room 101 in the Ministry of Love (how ironic of a name), Smith was subjected to “the worst thing in the world,” as O''Brien recalled, almost killing Winston using his worst fear (Orwell 283). This turned Winston into what seemed like an animal with rabies, and after this punishment (in which he was spared death because he betrayed his lover Julia) he was never the same.

Perhaps, though, the scariest thing about this novel was that I didn’t find it all that scary. Many things Orwell brilliantly predicted are a reality now, like cameras in the pockets of nearly every person in a developed country that could potentially “see” and “hear” everything. Phones like the iPhone not only have fingerprints (for touch identification) but now are starting to delve into the world of facial recognition, and no one truly knows for sure where this information goes. We see far worse things than Winston saw in the Ministry of Love by simply turning on the news. Nations like North Korea have complete control over their citizens, and the saddest part is, these citizens are too shielded from reality to even know that there is something wrong with the way they are treated. People also have the tendency to blindly trust whatever the media says, which could just be another way us people are manipulated every day. It makes me wonder, is 2+2 really 4… or, because numbers are a concept created by man, could it really equal 5?

-LB
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Debi
1.0 out of 5 stars
Do Not Buy This Book - The File is Corrupted!
Reviewed in the United States on September 26, 2017
This book is impossible to read. The file is corrupted and all kinds of strange characters obscure words. It is infuriating to try to contact Amazon''s customer service. Amazon keeps you going in circles and there is no phone number for getting help.
457 people found this helpful
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Kindle Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Get the actual book. This copy is unreadable.
Reviewed in the United States on June 19, 2018
The constant errors, words joined together, paragraphs split with a wrong page number, the book title or the free website right in the middle. I was not able to enjoy reading this at all, I got 7% through before I could not take it anymore. 1984 is great but this version... See more
The constant errors, words joined together, paragraphs split with a wrong page number, the book title or the free website right in the middle. I was not able to enjoy reading this at all, I got 7% through before I could not take it anymore. 1984 is great but this version is just unreadable.
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Hannah Avarraschild
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Worried about 1984? Check out "It Can''t Happen Here."
Reviewed in the United States on January 30, 2017
I read this in high school (I''m 72 now) and at that time it was a prediction of things to come. In some ways it''s pretty close. It is interesting that people are reading it more now because of the current situation. I think that if they are alarmed by this book they should... See more
I read this in high school (I''m 72 now) and at that time it was a prediction of things to come. In some ways it''s pretty close. It is interesting that people are reading it more now because of the current situation. I think that if they are alarmed by this book they should try "It Can''t Happen Here."

Another worthwhile book is "A Nation of Sheep" by William J. Lederer
879 people found this helpful
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Eliza Doll
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
My favorite book for almost 20 years
Reviewed in the United States on May 6, 2017
I first read 1984 for a high school English class almost 20 years ago, I was immediately drawn to Orwell''s writing style. For every bit of dialog, there is MUCH more narration, but the narration is engrossing and intriguing. I love when Orwell uses long sentences with... See more
I first read 1984 for a high school English class almost 20 years ago, I was immediately drawn to Orwell''s writing style. For every bit of dialog, there is MUCH more narration, but the narration is engrossing and intriguing. I love when Orwell uses long sentences with parallel phrasing, and he describes in detail a society that is frighteningly much like our own-- a crushingly intrusive government that uses constant and inescapable surveillance paired with a steady stream of falsehoods marketed as truth that caters to the 1% (the Inner Party) while the lower castes (the Outer Party and the Proles) suffer in poverty and neglect. If you''re like me and love a good bleak novel that explores the basic depravity of man (other favorites of mine are Brave New World and Lord of the Flies), read 1984. Don''t forget to give Animal Farm a try as well; it covers very similar themes using talking barnyard animals, but it''s an easier read. Better read this book quickly because Big Brother Is Watching You.
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Top reviews from other countries

Rakesh Agrawal
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beware, He (not he)! is watching us!
Reviewed in India on September 8, 2018
A Bihari angarez, Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his penname, George Orwell, wrote this book in 1949, supposedly A satirical description of A totalitarian state. Little did he realize that it will describe India, A so-called democratic state of 2018, so vividly!
407 people found this helpful
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Dave Maule
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Don''t bother
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 1, 2020
The kindle edition is full of poor editing, spelling and grammatical mistakes and ridiculous page layouts. The proof reader for this edition must have been blind. There are so many mistakes that it definitely impacts on the readers ability to enjoy the original text, in...See more
The kindle edition is full of poor editing, spelling and grammatical mistakes and ridiculous page layouts. The proof reader for this edition must have been blind. There are so many mistakes that it definitely impacts on the readers ability to enjoy the original text, in fact it makes it practically unreadable. Buy another format rather than wasting your money on this kindle edition.
65 people found this helpful
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Ankur
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Author is Gifted with Precognition
Reviewed in India on October 1, 2018
This book is written back in 1948, but hats off to author who very precisely tell what going to be happened after decades. After 60 years since it was published, it remains one of the most hauntingly terrifying portrayals of future of mainkind. Where there is everything...See more
This book is written back in 1948, but hats off to author who very precisely tell what going to be happened after decades. After 60 years since it was published, it remains one of the most hauntingly terrifying portrayals of future of mainkind. Where there is everything belongs to the state and no one id free in short he told us be ready for a TATALITARIAN STATE. Most Most Recommended Novel to Read. Your Views definatly going to affect after reading this book. You will start seeing world in a new way. A Movie also released,, based on this Novel with same name i.e. 1984. If u found this review useful so please hit the HELPFUL button.
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Honest Reviewer
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The shape of things to come?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 27, 2019
Any society implementing Marxism usually ends up like a third-world country with a small wealthy elite, a large administration class and the remainder - the vast majority - living equally in poverty. 1984''s Oceania is this dystopian superstate. Winston Smith, the central...See more
Any society implementing Marxism usually ends up like a third-world country with a small wealthy elite, a large administration class and the remainder - the vast majority - living equally in poverty. 1984''s Oceania is this dystopian superstate. Winston Smith, the central character, is someone who dares to question the totalitarian regime he is living subject to. When George Orwell wrote this book, the means of monitoring and controlling people were not well advanced, and many ''anti-state'' behaviours could go unnoticed and unchecked. Also, Marxism (and Globalism) had not got a toehold in the West. Essentially then his novel was little more than a work of fiction. Reality is now beginning to catch up. The two main ingredients are now here: Marxism is going mainstream in the West, and technology is allowing governments and organisations to record the minutiae of everyone''s life (online comments, credit-card purchases), disseminate propaganda (fake news) and enforce conformity (China''s Social Credit System). In this so-called clown world in which we now live democracy is being sidelined, history is being rewritten, truths and facts are becoming ''constructs'', scapegoats are being created to funnel hate, the traditional family unit is being attacked, etc, etc. George Orwell would not have to dig deep for inspiration, were he writing 1984 now. This is a very depressing novel; and if you are quite content to live happily in your bubble, then I advise you not to read it.
48 people found this helpful
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Amazon/Kindle Customer
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Download sample before you buy - this print version not readable
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 14, 2020
Review refers to the version published by Prabhat Prakashan and is about printing not the book itself. I have only read a few pages but am too irritated by the rubbish punctuation and spelling mistakes which abound. 12 errors in page 1 - mainly "The" being written with a...See more
Review refers to the version published by Prabhat Prakashan and is about printing not the book itself. I have only read a few pages but am too irritated by the rubbish punctuation and spelling mistakes which abound. 12 errors in page 1 - mainly "The" being written with a capital T wherever it appears. "Forty-fve" and "The lif" appear on page 1 and "Win" and "ston" appear twice as if this end of line hyphenation is acceptable. Don''t waste money on this version. The so called publisher doesn''t even have the wit to use spell check! False economy to try to save a few pounds as now I need to buy a version from a recognised publisher. This one gets no stars from me.
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