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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
4.7 out of 5 stars (88 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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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.

3 people found this 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

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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.

4 people found this 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.

3 people found this helpful

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Generally a good insight into the world of Orwell

The first 3/4 of the book (part 1) is a good balanced summary of Orwell, his writings and experiences and what and who inspired him to write 1984. Definitely worth a read for someone with an interest in George Orwell and 1984, and who wants to learn more. Part 2 however is not as interesting and a lot less relevant- it gets frustrating when you hear what David Bowie thinks about 1984 by the 5th occasion. The last chapter however, is absolutely diabolical. The author tries to portray how evil Donald Trump is- and compares him and his methods to something that would be witnessed in the world of 1984. Any sane person can see that Trump is no messiah but some of the accusations in this chapter, while totally ignoring the other side- are farcical. The author seems to suggest that ridiculous 1984 style propaganda was the only reason Trump won the 2016 election- while totally ignoring the other side of the coin. The author suggests that the legacy of 1984 lives on today in the authoritarian right, which to me seems like a very narrow shallow view- the problems come from both sides. I am by no means a Trump fan in any way- but the last chapter really does make for hard listening. To summarise- a good book well written that could have been better were it not for the authors deep love of David Bowie and deep hatred of Donald Trump.

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fascinating book,!

loved it . really enjoyed both halves the life of Orwell and the historic interpretation of the book 1984 and its impact

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Compelling and insightful

Fascinating and deeply researched biography of Orwell's 1984: it's full of big ideas and prescience. The history of utopias introduced me to completely new writers, deepened my understanding of the familiar and was constantly fresh and relevant. Dorian Lynskey really knows his stuff and where my knowledge overlapped the book ( e.g. Zamyatin) he was bang-on. It is well narrated by Andrew Wincott, who, appropriately, has read 1984.

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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.