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A Clockwork Orange
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1980s)
When "A Clockwork Orange" was originally published in 1962, the US publisher omitted the final chapter, in which the narrator Alex begins to question his life of violence. In 1986 it was reissued with the missing chapter included, in which Alex is perhaps on the verge of freely choosing to act in a civilized manner instead of being programed into it. This novel is not Burgess's favorite of his own works because it is too didactic. In reading Burgess's introduction one might conclude that the ultimate enemy of moral freedom in the modern world is neither God nor Devil but "the Almighty State [which] is increasingly replacing both." It does capture the dynamic of being part of a youth subculture whose self-identity is shaped by alienation from "respectable" society,and its language, once penetrated, is poetic. -- Added by Indy7steve on 01/18/2014

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Pied Piper
Pied Piper by Nevil Shute (1940s)
Nevil Shute was a successful aeronautical engineer who entertained himself in the evenings by writing novels. During WW II he served in Britain's Department of Miscellaneous Weapons Development, where he worked on secret weapons, but he continued to write at night, completing three novels during the war. One of them, Most Secret, was held up by the censors and not published until the conclusion of the war because it dealt with some of the weapons he helped develop. No such problems for Pied Piper (1941), which tells the story of how an elderly Englishman on vacation in France when Germany invaded came to escape with with seven young children in tow. John Howard succeeds only because Shute creates an improbable twist at the conclusion, but the portrayal of Howard throughout the novel captures perfectly the British propaganda slogan (not mentioned in the novel) from WW II that has made a comeback in recent years: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. If you read it keep in mind that it was written and published while the outcome of the war was still very much in doubt, and that in some ways it can serve as a primary document concerning popular knowledge at the time--for example, a few references to the brutal treatment of Jewish prisoners in German concentration camps. -- Added by Indy7steve on 01/17/2014

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The Shining
The Shining by Stephen King (1970s)
I was so impressed with an interview Stephen King recently did on NPR about Doctor Sleep, his sequel to The Shining, I decided to read my first King novel ever, and chose The Shining. It is a great story, well written and compelling. After finishing the novel I re-watched the Jack Nicholson film directed by Stanley Kubrik and the movie isn't half as scary or compelling as the book. -- Added by Indy7steve on 01/15/2014

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Brave New World
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1930s)
A story written before the rise of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao about how human freedom is lost through eugenics, drugs, propaganda, mind-numbing entertainment, and centralized political power. The edition I read also contains Huxley's "Brave New World Revisited" written in the mid-1950s: "The Will to Order can make tyrants out of those who merely aspire to clean up a mess. The beauty of tidiness is used as a justification for despotism." -- Added by Indy7steve on 01/15/2014

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Doctor Sleep
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (2000s)
A sequel to The Shining which tracks Dan Torrance into adulthood, where he confronts both the challenge of defeating eerie non-human creatures that live on the "steam" of humans and of being the son of an alcoholic who himself became an alcoholic. Lots of time at AA meetings which receive sympathetic treatment. In the end, conquering oneself is perhaps always harder than conquering external forces. -- Added by Indy7steve on 01/13/2014

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Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1950s)
A fictional depiction of why mankind is always only one generation away from the collapse of civilization. -- Added by Indy7steve on 01/13/2014

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