Help us choose the September 2011 selection to read for the MobileRead Literary Book Club! The poll will be open for three days.
We will start the discussion thread for the selected work on September 17th and a thread for October's nominations will be created five days later on September 22nd. I will start the threads, but the discussion thread may have a "discussion leader" if one volunteers. Everyone can post whatever thoughts they wish on the month's selection, but the discussion leader's goal will be to continue the dialogue in a thought-provoking direction with discussion questions and the like.
In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day run-off poll. In the event that the run-off poll also ends in a tie, the tie will be resolved in favour of the selection that received all five of its initial nominations first.
Select from the following works:
The People Of The Abyss
by Jack London
An extremely moving, and hard-hitting account of the social conditions for thousands of people in 1902, as well as being an historical account, a social commentary, and a challenge - even to contemporary society.
This narrative takes place in England during the coronation of Edward VII. The British Empire is prosperous and strong, yet poverty is rampant in the nation's capital. Jack London lived in the worst sections of the city to explore this poverty, and then, using newspaper reports, police statistics, and his own experiences and observations shows us the condition of England's human cast-offs. London is not completely objective and his political views slip into his writing, but his effort to disguise himself as an out-of-work sailor and live in the East End give us a realistic view of this life.
"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. ...... In its sociological and journalistic documentation of poverty is a call for direct action." - James Williams, editor and publisher of the Jack London Journal
by John Reed
Christ Stopped At Eboli
The material for this remarkable history came from journalist and poet John Reed's experience as a war correspondent during the Mexican Revolution. First published in 1914, the gripping Insurgent Mexico earned Reed everlasting fame as a top reporter of his time and left behind a vivid and unmatched portrait of a people, place, and time.
In 1910, Mexican peasant Pancho Villa led a rebellion against the wealthy landowners, and fought to redistribute land to the poor Mexicans who worked it for the absentee owners, in what has been called "the first socialist revolution". Originally published as a series of newspaper dispatches, Reed lived with the Mexican rebels, made friends with Pancho Villa, and was nearly killed in a battle with Mexican government forces.
Reed's reportage of his days with the Mexican guerillas captured the verve and spirit of the Mexican peon rising from ages of repression. His description of the desert marches, the battles and the exploits of the tropa is among the classics of its genre.
by Carlo Levi
Unbroken: A World War II Story Of Survival, Resilience, And Redemption
Because of his uncompromising opposition to Fascism, Carlo Levi was banished at the start of the Abyssinian War (1935) to a small primitive village in Lucania, a remote province of southern Italy. In this region, which remains unknown not only to tourists but also to the vast majority of Italians, Carlo Levi, a painter, doctor, and writer, lived out a memorable time.
"Has been called in turn a diary, an album of sketches, a novelette, a sociological study and a political essay. It has more than a trait of each genre; yet it remains as hard to classify as every beautiful book, or as the man who wrote this one." - The New York Times Book Review
"A sensitive and gifted writer with a great sense of style ...... Perhaps the best thing in [Levi's] book is the detachment by which he avoids sentimentalizing the peasants and at the same time renders their undestroyed feelings for human values." - Alfred Kazin
by Laura Hillenbrand
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. *Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. *It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.* So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.
The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. *In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails. *As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile. *But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.
Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. *Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
“Heart-wrenching ...... It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative ...... [Her] triumph is that in telling Louie's story ...... she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption.” - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Alternately stomach-wrenching, anger-arousing and spirit-lifting—and always gripping." - Kirkus Reviews