Nineteen Eighty-Four is without-a-doubt one the greatest works of post-WWII literature.  George Orwell’s masterful use of the English language paints a picture in your mind of a horrifying, alternate reality in which (as the Party’s slogans go):

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

A universe in which there is such a thing as Thoughtcrime (the act of simply thinking differently than what the Party wants you to).  Freedom of speech has been abolished.  Freedom of the press is gone.  The right to assemble peaceably has been eradicated.  The right to worship as you see fit has been destroyed as far as members of the Party are concerned (the Proles aren’t smart enough to even grasp the idea of religion).  Perpetual war is a fact of life.  The past is alterable, in fact, altered on a constant basis to match the directions of the Party.  Your greatest enemy is your own mind, for at any moment, the Thought Police could be watching you, waiting to pick up on an unorthodox behavior, so they can swoop in when you’re sleep (they always come when you’re sleeping) and drag you off to the Ministry of Love (called Miniluv in Newspeak) to be reeducated.  There’s always a shortage of something (when the story begins, it’s razor-blades).  The world in which our protagonist, Winston Smith, lives is truly a terrifying thing to behold.

This work of literary genius came across my desk in high school and played a major role in shaping my over-arching world view (email me for a complete list of books I think everyone should read before they’re allowed to vote).  It is the, THE, definitive example of how badly Socialism can be perverted and will always, given man-kind’s inherent evils, result in Tyranny.  I encourage all twelve of my dear readers to buy it so they can have it as a static, permanent reference, but if you’re really itching to start reading right this second, just follow this link to read the full version on your computer.

But always remember, dear reader, to be careful of your actions.  Big Brother is watching.