In the year 1984, or thereabouts, the Party is the only political party that has ever existed, they have always ruled Oceania, which has always existed, and always been at war. In the year 1984, everything is better than it's ever been. If you begin to question the truth of any of that, just read the history books. They'll all agree.

In the year 1984, or thereabouts, Winston Smith buys a diary, falls in love, and makes contact with an underground resistance aimed at toppling the Party.

This, actually, was my first reading of Orwell's 1984. Somehow, I missed it in school. But with references around me doubling nearly daily, and then an actual proposal of Alternative Facts by at least one individual in a position of political influence… I didn't feel it was a gap I could sustain any longer.

With the exception of two textbook chapters on the ideology of the Party, I found the storytelling compelling. Familiarity with popular culture, though sometimes only in passing, meant I knew where the plot would lead me - there would be no redemption. Still, I wondered who would ultimately bring about our hero's downfall. I wondered about plot details and the final disposition of Mr. Smith.

But I think the most compelling part of this book is it's near plausibility. (I say near, because I still hold out hope that humanity can rise above it's worst instincts.) This book looks at what happens if we don't. What happens if we collectively decide that power is the ultimate moral high ground and anything can be excused in the name of winning? What are we capable of in the name of self-preservation? And how much easier is that when we believe compassion will cost us our well-being? Would we deny measurable facts in order to preserve our own power, to hang onto whatever small bit of autonomy we know?

This is not a fun read. It's an uncomfortable and sometimes difficult story. But it's an important one, and so I recommend it on those merits.