I had a couple of friends recommend that I read Animal Farm, although they didn't give me any description at all. When I saw it on a list of novellas, I thought it would make a good choice for the November Novella Challenge. However, I still had no idea what it was about. I don't know what I expected, but I was surprised - in a good way.
Animal Farm was written by George Orwell in 1946, a year after World War II and during the period that Communism was getting a secure hold on Eastern Europe. Orwell was a vocal Socialist, but saw huge differenes between Socialism and Communism.
The animals on the Manor Farm become enlightened and decide that the human owners and employees of the farm are mistreating them. The oldest and wisest of the animals gets them all together and convinces them that all animals everywhere would be better off without humans. The animals conspire to chase the humans off the farm and re-name it Animal Farm. All goes well until the pigs, the smartest of the animals, become tyrants and eventually are indistinguishable from humans.
This book is a satirical look at the flaws of communism. It also seems like a good lesson for any society, especially one which allows its leaders too much control. In the end, the animals were in a much worse situation than they had ever been, but they didn't even realize it because the PR machine of the pigs worked constantly to convince them of how good things were and they believed it, too far-removed and beaten down to question their lies.
The premise of this story can carry over to any government entity that becomes obsessed with its own power and uses it in unhealthy ways, whether it be a school board, county administration or the Federal goveernment. I believe Animal Farm should be required reading for every young adult - maybe it would help a few of them keep their eyes and minds open.
- Reviewed by Dave