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An ardent activist, champion of political reform, novelist, and progressive journalist, Upton Sinclair is perhaps best-known today for The Jungle—his devastating exposé of the meat-packing industry. A protest novel he had privately published in 1906, the book was a shocking revelation of intolerable labor practices and unsanitary working conditions in the Chicago stockyards. It quickly became a best-seller, arousing public sentiment and resulting in such federal legislation as the Pure Food and Drug Act.
The brutally grim story of a Slavic family who emigrates to America, The Jungle tells of their rapid and inexorable descent into numbing poverty, moral degradation, and social and economic despair. Vulnerable and isolated, the family of Jurgus Rudkus struggles—unsuccessfully—to survive in an urban jungle.
Lexile Measure: 1170L
©2001, Author: Upton Sinclair. 290 pages, 5 x 8 inches, paperback, middle school/high school.