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The Jungle


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Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author. The Jungle helped in the passage of the pure-food laws during the Progressive Era.


Gr 6-12-The video provides background information as well as video clips of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle. Initially Sinclair had published an article in the newspaper, Appeal to Reason. Editors asked him to do additional research on labor in the meat industry. Disguised as a worker, Sinclair was appalled at what he discovered. He combined the tragedies he found into those experienced by one fictional family. The novel, as well as Sinclair's continued fight, resulted in the Meat Inspection Act of 1906. In addition to a brief description of the book's characters and plot, the program gives biographical information about Sinclair. Commentary by consumer and industry advocates as well as labor historians explain why the book had such a major impact. The use of film clips and "snapshots" is well done. Lots of valuable information is packed into a short time, but is more than cursory. Discussion questions appear onscreen at the end of the video. It could be used prior to a class reading of The Jungle or in classes in American history at the secondary level where muckraking is covered.-Kathy Akey, Clintonville Senior High School, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

This angry novel created a furor when it was originally published in 1906. The author painfully details the sorrows of a Lithuanian immigrant family working in Chicago's meat-packing plants during the bad old days before worker's compensation and disability, unemployment insurance, social security, fair labor practices, and court-appointed lawyers. In addition to losing their home, the family endure the deaths of a grandfather, an uncle, a child, a mother and her second child (in childbirth), the older children (to the streets), and finally the cherished firstborn son. By exposing the horribly unsanitary practices in the plants, this novel prompted federal legislators to protect the public from unsafe meat. While this story is emotionally draining to listen to, the audio version provides an excellent production of a classic novel. Reader George Guidall turns in another fine performance. Recommended.-Luana Ellis, Jamestown Community Coll. Lib., Olean, N.Y.

"When people ask me what has happened in my long lifetime I do not refer them to the newspaper files and to the authorities, but to [Sinclair's] novels." --George Bernard Shaw

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