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The Ministry of Truth

The Biography of George Orwell's 1984
Narrated by: Andrew Wincott
Length: 13 hrs and 20 mins
5 out of 5 stars (48 ratings)

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Summary

1984 isn't just a novel; it's a key to understanding the modern world. George Orwell's final work is a treasure chest of ideas and memes - Big Brother, the Thought Police, Doublethink, Newspeak, 2+2=5 - that gain potency with every year. Particularly in 2016, when the election of Donald Trump made it a best seller (‘Ministry of Alternative Facts’, anyone?). Its influence has morphed endlessly into novels (The Handmaid's Tale), films (Brazil), television shows (V for Vendetta), rock albums (Diamond Dogs), commercials (Apple), even reality TV (Big Brother). 

The Ministry of Truth by Dorian Lynskey is the first audiobook that fully examines the epochal and cultural event that is 1984 in all its aspects: its roots in the utopian and dystopian literature that preceded it; the personal experiences in wartime Britain that Orwell drew on as he struggled to finish his masterpiece in his dying days; and the political and cultural phenomena that the novel ignited at once upon publication and that, far from subsiding, have only grown over the decades. It explains how fiction history informs fiction and how fiction explains history.

©2019 Dorian Lynskey (P)2019 Macmillan Digital Audio

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Terrifying

I really enjoyed this. It takes you through attitudes to totalitarian governments over the last several decades and how Orwell could see that the worst could happen in the right circumstances.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating and terrifying

A fascinating exploration of one of my favourite books. The idea of writing a biography of a book works really well in this case as there’s so much to unpick before and after its publication.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The story of a book and an idea

Excellent and well thought out story of one of the most important books of the 20th century. When Trump talks about his warm welcome in Britain to 'cheering crowds' and about 'alternative truths' you know we need George Orwell like never before! It kills off a few of the myths around the title 1984 and gives you a good understanding of the man who wrote it. W

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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First half good. Second half bad.

the first half of this biography of George Orwell's 1984 is an excellent and imaginative read. There is good background and history of Orwell's life and political engagement which is interesting, and an excellent survey of utopian and dystopian literature from HG Wells onwards. The second half of the book is totally inessential, and includes a needless and sophomore review of Bowie's early 70s catalogue, together with other modern pop artists who have in some way or other engaged with nineteen eighty-four. The most aggravating thing about this book, however, is the narrator who reads it in a melodramatic and affected tone which i found thoroughly irritating. All narrators, i suppose, aee equal. But some are more equal than others.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Really really interesting

This book is a fascinating story about how and why Orwell wrote 1984 and the history of the book since his death. It's partly an Orwell biography and partly a history of the last 120+ years seen through the prism of the book. It ends with a wonderful line from Orwell which is just perfect for our time. Wonderfully read by Andrew Wincott who coincidentally read the audiobook of 1984 that I listened to recently. It was like having Winston read the book to me. Great twist.

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Very informative

The narratation is very dramatic. The historical context is very well researched. This book will especially interest literature lovers because there are so many references to Orwell's litereray influences, especially Aldous Huxley.

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Fascinating 'connect the dots' history

Unexpectedly fascinating 'connect the dots' history of the creation of a masterpiece.

This caught me up throughout in its breaking down of Orwell's own history and background, weaving together the threads that would become his magnum opus.

In two parts, we see how Orwell's life, his meetings with others, seeing wars and Communist revolutions, his work in propaganda, rivalry with writers, illnesses, all fed into the mind of the man who would create 'Nineteen Eighty Four'.

The second part looks at the book's effect on future films and books, music and culture in general, which was just as compelling a listen as its inception. It brings us right up to date with references to the Trump administration, and made me consider books and films I know and how they have been influenced.

'Behind the scenes' is always an enthralling genre for me, seeing how an author creates, but here the extra dimension of what came after, both for the book itself and its impact on the Western world since.

Well narrated, it was not difficult to follow as an audiobook. I'd recommend this method of connecting with the material.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

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  • Asmodeous
  • North Yorkshire United Kingdom
  • 05-06-19

Outstanding book and essential companion to 1984

I was so impressed with this book. It is everything I hoped for, shedding valuable insight and context to the George Orwell novel 1984. It is a true companion piece narrated by the very same person who did a great job of the audio version available on audible. Indeed it reads like a thriller in places and offers insight into the writing and significance of the work in the decades leading up to the publication and into the current era. I found it fascinating in its depth and was grateful for the clarity of is subject matter. A brilliant piece for any student of the text and such an entertaining and illuminating read. What is impressive is how the author brilliantly shows how the work resonates today and how the powerful elite use various ways to control and manipulate the masses. It outlines the depth and themes of the novel and the thinking and works that inspired Orwell himself. Really wonderful and so worth a credit. If you have an interest in the book, or an interest in the author or the political themes that drove Orwell then this is highly recommended.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful