The story is somewhat atypical for London in that it does not represent the white supremacist and male dominant vision of the world we usually find in his novels.
Author: Jack London
In 1905 the troops of the Tsar crushed the Russian revolution of 1905. Although the uprising did force Nicholas II to establish a constitution and a parliament, the Russian revolution of 1917 would change the face of the world. However, the uprising also had the interesting effect of inspiring two of the more interesting utopian novels of the early 20th century. One was Red Star, the socialist utopia on Mars created by the Russian writer Alexander Bogdanov, a Bolshevik and intimate of Lenin. The other was The Iron Heel, by Jack London, the American author best known for The Call of the Wild. Whereas Bogdanov forsees the ultimate victory of the socialist and scientific-technical revolutions, London predicts global revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces ending up in an apocalyptic battle betwen the impoverished workers and the privileged minorities. Consequently, the two authors share a common socialist perspective, although Bogdanov writes a utopian novel and London creates a dystopia. The Iron Heel was written in 1908 and remains one of the more prophetic novels of the 20th century. His track record with regards to a national secret police agency, the rise of Fascism, the creation of attractive suburbs for the middle class while the unemployed and menials live in ghettoes, is markedly better than that of Edward Belleamys Looking Backward, Aldoux Huxleys Brave New World, or George Orwells 1984, the novels that are usually lauded and judged by their prescience in terms of utopian literature. The novel presents the story of the American revolutionary Earnest Everhard, as told by his wife Avis, who is actually the more effective revolutionary leader. London tells how the manuscript was unknown for seven centuries, to be discovered long after the final triumph of socialist democracy in the yar 419 B.O.M. Avis Everhard describes the struggles of the working masses against the oligarchy, and how they were ruthlessly suppressed, especially in the Chicago Commune that is the main setting for the action. There is a strong current of violence, with Black Hundreds wrecking the socialist presses, a bomb exploding in the House of Representatives, and revolutionaries being hunted down by the military arm of the government known as the Iron Heel. The Everhard Manuscript breaks off in the middle of a sentence, a footnote explaining that history does not know if the author escaped or was captured. The story is somewhat atypical for London in that it does not represent the white supremacist and male dominant vision of the world we usually find in his novels. Londons message is the blatant warning that if you allow the Revolution to be defeated, then the ruling class will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. Ultimately The Iron Heel is a novel whose importance clearly outstrips its literary quality. The problem is that with the end of World War II and the defeat (essentially) of Fascism that Londons novel was no longer of interest as the world was confronted with a new set of problems. Yet, Londons dytopian novel is one of the works in that genre that deserves to be reconsidered more often