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War is peace

It seems far-fetched to compare today's America to the totalitarian nightmare of Orwell's "1984." But the novel can also be read as a warning about the failings of mass democracies, especially in wartime

By Timothy Snyder   November 2004

Written in 1948, George Orwell’s 1984 has been interpreted as a fearful description of the power of communism to rule minds. In the actual year 1984, when the novel received renewed attention, no one doubted that its subject was the Soviet Union, the “evil empire” of Ronald Reagan’s famous phrase. Yet reread today, the story, and its setting, give one pause. The action of 1984 takes place not in Moscow, but in London. In the story, London and Britain have been absorbed by a larger transatlantic empire, known as Oceania. The heartland of Oceania is today’s US. In the world…

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