The Jungle (Paperback)
In this 1906 novel, American journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair sought to portray life as it really was for the immigrants living in Chicago and other large cities. Sinclair is especially known for unveiling the dangerous health violations and unsanitary processing practices of the American meatpacking industry of his day. "The Jungle," which is based on an investigation Sinclair did for a socialist newspaper, depicts the hopelessness of the working class at its worst. Harsh and unpleasant working conditions, combined with poverty and lack of social support, all contributed to the discouragement of the poorly paid laborers of his day.
In "The Jungle," Sinclair contrasts the miserable life of the working class to the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. Sinclair gathered his information over the course of seven weeks as a worker in the meatpacking plants of Chicago. Although Sinclair's intention was to expose "the inferno of exploitation" of the typical American factory worker of his day, readers of his book fixated instead on food safety as the novel's most pressing issue.
In the words of Sinclair, his celebrity from the book arose "not because the public cared anything about the workers, but simply because the public did not want to eat tubercular beef." Sinclair's account of workers falling into rendering tanks and being ground along with animal parts into "Durham's Pure Leaf Lard" gripped the public.
Public pressure resulting from Sinclair's book led to the passage of a meat inspection law and the establishment of a bureau which would later become the Food and Drug Administration. "The Jungle" remains one of the most successful "muck-raking" books of its time, and many years after.