ďThe JungleĒ is an amazing book, and should be mandatory reading for all Americanís! To the posters here who disliked the book or found it boring, I say Ė read it again! And think about it this time (as in, with the radio off). I was riveted by the book from the second I picked it up!! Imagine taking several pages to describe a musician and his troupe, and describing the wedding so completely that you could hear the instruments feverishly pounding out their tunes and smell the sweat of the dancers and feel the closeness as the packed room pulsed with life and drunkenness and sound! Boring!? Boy, I bet youíre the life of a party.

The life of Jurgis and his friends should be thoroughly understood and appreciated by all who venture off to a demanding day in the office, an 8 hour shift of factory work, or a sleep inducing afternoon of school. Everyone should read and understand the unbearable suffering, inhuman physical demands and depths of depression that Jurgis and his family lived, in order to fully appreciate the life they live today.

Much as a weekend of camping can make you relish a long hot shower (you do camp, donít you?) or a night in a real bed, the story of this Lithuanian familyís dreams and subsequent struggles of a brutal and unforgiving reality should cause everyone in this great country to take less for granted and find more joy and reward in the simple things of everyday life.

Walk into any grocerís produce section and feast at the bounty! Treat your eyes to the freshness, the color, the variety, the sheer volume of food! Walk to the meat section, and Iíll bet you a hefty sum you will not for a second think of where the meat comes from or the people who make it possible, or whether it is safe to eat. Fill your carts with foods necessary or decadent, nutritious or not, common or exotic - then return to your climate controlled home to prepare one of 3 or 4 meals you will probably eat that day. When the sun goes down, flip a switch and continue whatever you are doing in 100 watt sunlight. Do it to music, or to your favorite television show. (probably something irreverent to the very fabric of the society that provides this wonderful existence to you). Then, when you are completely relaxed and only slightly spent, climb between the covers of your overstuffed bed for a cozy night of comfortable, warm, dry, dream-filled, life-restoring sleep.

Leave home the next morning, fed and showered and dressed in the cleanest of popular fashion, secure in the knowledge that wherever you go, and whatever you do, your safety and security will be assured. On the road when hunger strikes? Ample food is rarely more than a mile away. Need to relieve? Thereís hardly a place in America that you canít use a flush toilet just for the asking. Getting tired? Look for the nearest hotel and cuddle up to a good book or a movie.

Getting the sniffles? Doctors and pharmacies are 24 hours a day, and canít refuse your basic health care. Hurt on the job? You are set for life. Injured at school or in a restaurant? 1-800-dial-a-lawyer is waiting to hear form you. Nothing could be better today than to be a victim. We live to be victims. We breed more victims. To be a victim today is to reap the true rewards of this generous nation Find a roach in your hamburger and youíve really got it made!

So this cuddled, coddled, pampered, ease of existence you live is generations away from Jurgis and his familyís struggles, right? Tell meÖ.what are you willing to do to eat? What are you willing to do to protect a loved one? What injustices will you endure or insults will you accept? What lengths are you wiling to go to in order to survive? And at what cost? Will you steal? Would you kill? Where are your values when you are sorely tested? Donít laugh. American society is alarmingly close to an every-man-for-himself mentality and a survival-of-the-fittest reversion to times even more deprived than those described in Sinclairís book. Think it canít happen? How many daysí worth of food do you think are on your favorite storeís shelves? In the warehouses? How many days would it take for your city to run out of food if the trucks stopped running? Look around you. Half the world is living like that right now. There is not a third-world country where the kids arenít scavenging the garbage dumps right now. Millions of people live in sub-human conditions. Millions more are starving. Thousands wonít see the sun come up tomorrow. And it could happen again in this country! What will you do when the 3rd world comes knocking at your door? And they are armed? And they want what you have? Better read the book, and get a dose of reality. Search your soul and develop some character. It will do us all some good.