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Animal Farm  By  cover art

Animal Farm

By: George Orwell
Narrated by: Ralph Cosham
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Editorial review

By Seth Hartman, Audible Editor


Like many American public school goers, I was introduced to Animal Farm at the ripe old age of 13. While I was, by all accounts, a novice when it came to world history, it didn’t take me long to realize that there was something special about this book. While the setting of a farm was certainly familiar territory to me, this was no nursery rhyme.

With other books to his name—most notably, 1984—George Orwell made no bones about his political opinions. Using adorable farm animals, this scathing allegory depicts an interpretation of the Bolshevik uprising and ensuing Russian Revolution. While revolution can bring hope, Orwell shows the darker implications of political upheaval and the reality of changing regimes. Ultimately, this book is about a futile quest for equality amidst political turmoil.

It is really difficult not to feel optimistic when a group of subservient creatures manages to take out the tyrannical farmer. However, Orwell illustrates that it takes more than revolution to establish a fair system of governance. The power vacuum that is created in the farmer’s absence can be felt by all of the animals, and it doesn’t take long for someone to step up. In a not-so-subtle piece of parallel imagery, the pigs are the animals that manage to seize control of the farm after the uprising takes place. While they seem to rule with a more pro-animal outlook than the farmer did, it doesn’t take long for the true colors of their leader, Napoleon, to show.

Above all else, Animal Farm is a cautionary tale. George Orwell seems to be of the opinion that no governing body is capable of providing true equality to its subjects. Unfortunately, there haven’t been too many real-life governments that have pulled this off. While this book is specifically satirizing Soviet communism, many of the issues presented within these pages still apply to this day. Now that I am a few years older with more historical knowledge under my belt, listening to this book again has given me an even deeper look into Orwell’s twisted world. Ralph Cosham's smooth narration doesn't hurt either, adding an extra dimension to the book.

I think it is so important that Animal Farm remains a staple title for young students to read. While some may interpret Orwell’s vision as purely anti-communist, history has made it clear that the messaging within is more widely applicable. I would never accuse this book of being a light read, but the whip-fast pacing and biting satire make it an incredibly enjoyable one. Long live Orwell!

Continue reading Seth's review >

Publisher's summary

George Orwell's classic satire of the Russian Revolution is an intimate part of our contemporary culture, quoted so often that we tend to forget who wrote the original words. It is an account of the bold struggle that transforms Mr. Jones' Manor Farm into Animal Farm, a wholly democratic society built on the credo that All Animals Are Created Equal. Out of their cleverness, the pigs Napoleon, Squealer, and Snowball emerge as leaders of the new community in a subtle evolution that bears an insidious familiarity. The climax is the brutal betrayal of the faithful horse Boxer, when totalitarian rule is re-established with the bloodstained postscript to the founding slogan: But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.
To supplement the full text version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, listen to the SparkNotes Guide for Animal Farm.
©1946 Harcourt Brace and Jovanich, Inc. (P)1991 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"A wise, compassionate, and illuminating fable of our times....The steadiness and lucidity of Orwell's merciless wit are reminiscent of Anatole France and even of Swift." (The New York Times Book Review)

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