In the aftermath of the huge leaks about the NSA, the classic dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four has shot up the book charts. With all the debate going on about what the government should and shouldn’t be able to do, it got us to thinking about all the great books out there about governments up to no good. Here are just five of the best books about government subterfuge and general ne’er-do-welling.
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
This novel received its huge wave of sales because it is probably the best example. A government wages a fake war and forces obedience by spying on all of its people. When Winston, the protagonist of the novel, tries to take a stand, things get complicated and he’s essentially crushed under the weight of government oppression. There’s a reason just about everybody reads this in school!
The Burning of Cherry Hill by A.K. Butler
A self-published dystopian novel that was released this year, The Burning of Cherry Hill has already won an award for its general excellence among self-published novels. A young boy and his sister are dragged kicking and screaming from their home on a remote island and forced back into a dystopian society from which their parents were trying to hide them. Everything seems fine, with food being provided for all and a nearly zero crime rate, but here’s something more sinister afoot! If you’ve never read a self-published novel before, start with this one.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
The recently deceased Ray Bradbury was a master of science fiction, writing many works that are now considered classics. Fahrenheit 451 is arguably his most influential work, and portrays a government that outlaws reading books. People found with books in their houses have their houses burned to the ground with the books inside as a means of censorship and punishment for daring to want knowledge. Scary stuff!
The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick
In the future, the majority of human civilization is living in underground bunkers because they think World War III is raging on the ground above them. Every month, the people of the bunkers are required to fill a quota of mechanical fighters to keep the war going. When an important member of one underground society becomes ill and needs a new pancreas, the group’s leader goes to the surface to try to find an artificial one, only to discover that the war has been over for more than a decade. This isn’t one of Philip K. Dick’s most famous novels, but the man was a genius.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
In a society where hedonism and drug-induced euphoria are taken to their ultimate extreme, the entirety of civilization loses their ability to basically give a crap about anything. Brave New World is a hugely influential novel about government intervention, in this case going the complete opposite. What if the government were the drug dealers? Definitely unsettling, but definitely a brilliant novel.
What are your favorite books about governments up to no good?