Have you felt the crush of the Iron Heel?

The Iron Heel by Jack London is considered to be on of the first pieces of dystopic fiction. I was eager to read it when I was it listed on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die, but was dismayed to find it wasn’t at the library. But I am SMARTER than the library search system and I found the book in a Jack London collection annoyed that it did not come up with my first search.

I have never read any of London’s writings previously but I fell instantly in love and feel eager to read more of his work. What Jack London books have you read?

The Iron Heel is in the public domain and available online. The first two paragraphs I found overwhelmingly striking and I will share them with you now. (This work uses a considerable amount off footnotes which I am leaving off for now.)



The soft summer wind stirs the redwoods, and Wild-Water ripples sweet cadences over its mossy stones. There are butterflies in the sunshine, and from everywhere arises the drowsy hum of bees. It is so quiet and peaceful, and I sit here, and ponder, and am restless. It is the quiet that makes me restless. It seems unreal. All the world is quiet, but it is the quiet before the storm. I strain my ears, and all my senses, for some betrayal of that impending storm. Oh, that it may not be premature! That it may not be premature!

Small wonder that I am restless. I think, and think, and I cannot cease from thinking. I have been in the thick of life so long that I am oppressed by the peace and quiet, and I cannot forbear from dwelling upon that mad maelstrom of death and destruction so soon to burst forth. In my ears are the cries of the stricken; and I can see, as I have seen in the past, all the marring and mangling of the sweet, beautiful flesh, and the souls torn with violence from proud bodies and hurled to God. Thus do we poor humans attain our ends, striving through carnage and destruction to bring lasting peace and happiness upon the earth.


  1. I actually took a college class in Jack London years ago, and never got around to reading the Iron Heel. I need to put it back on the list.


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