Looking Backward: 2000-1887

Written by: Edward Bellamy, Walter James Miller

Looking Backward: 2000-1887 Book Cover
Edward Bellamy's classic look at the future has been translated into over twenty languages and is the most widely read novel of its time. A young Boston gentleman is mysteriously transported from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century -- from a world of war and want to one of peace and plenty. This brilliant vision became the blueprint of utopia that stimulated some of the greatest thinkers of our age.
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Looking Backward 20001887 Reviews

Justin
Forget Nostradamus--Bellamy predicted shopping malls, credit cards and cars in his fictitious time-traveling story written in 1887 and looking forward to the year 2000 ("In the Year Two-Thousaaaannnnndddd....in the Year Two-ThousAAAAANNNNDDDD!")

While some of his more optimistic and Utopian fantasies aren't realized by modern society and Bellamy's writing drags a bit in places, it's fun and carefree without the bitter aftertaste of 1984 or Brave New World looming over like storm clouds.
Carly
In college, I took a class on Political Literature--a class designed to expose political and historical thoughts and feelings through literature. This would have been an excellent addition to such a class's curriculum, as I feel it is more political commentary disguised as fiction than it is fiction about politics.

Looking Backward is the story of a man who goes to sleep in 1887 Boston, and wakes up in 2000 Boston. (It is fiction, remember so this kind of jump can happen.) He awakens and learns o In college, I took a class on Political Literature--a class designed to expose political and historical thoughts and feelings through literature. This would have been an excellent addition to such a class's curriculum, as I feel it is more political commentary disguised as fiction than it is fiction about politics.

Looking Backward is the story of a man who goes to sleep in 1887 Boston, and wakes up in 2000 Boston. (It is fiction, remember so this kind of jump can happen.) He awakens and learns of the incredible advancements society has made. Indeed every person is cared for, every person works, there are no poor, there are no crimes. The president serves 1 five year term (after being voted in my the army), and Congress meets but once every few years--and really doesn't make any new laws. Every man and woman is taken care of, given the same amount of 'credit' (money is a bad term, but it is essentially the same thing--a card that gets the same amount put onto it every month, and it isn't allowed to accumulate) regardless of how much they work or what they do. The genders are equal. People seem happy.

While it sounds like socialism, Bellamy is clear on this point: it is not. In fact it is capitalism. Extreme capitalism not in the way of Freidman and his associates, but capitalism in that everyone in the nation (and all nations by this point are run this way because it just makes more sense) works for one company--the nation. The county produces everything, and everyone gets an equal share. If there are certain types of work that are harder than others, those occupations work less hours.

An interesting look into how the evolution of capitalism does not have to mean only a few at the top succeeding, but in fact, the evolution and support of us all.
Elçin Buket Soylu
19. yüzyılın iğrençliğini, 21. yüzyılda yaşıyor olsakta hala o igrencligin devam ettigini gösteren çok güzel bir ütopyaydı. 20. yüzyılı kurgulayan bir ütopya oluşu ve 21. yüzyıla gelmiş olsak dahi değisen hiçbir şeyin olmaması çok üzücü. 1880lerden beri değişen hiçbir şey yok, hala sefalet hala açlık hala savaşlar hala birbirlerinin kuyusunu kazıp zenginleşmeye çalışan bir ton insan.
Fog Magic :: The Illuminatus! Trilogy :: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War :: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead :: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1
Chelsie Whetter
I've just finished reading this book for a Utopian/Dystopian module on my University course and one thing I will say is that you'd probably appreciate this much more if you have previously read this sort of fiction.
The novel centers around a man named Julian West who lives in an extremely capitalist 19th century Boston. Mr West often has trouble sleeping, and is frequently put to sleep using a form of hypnosis. Despite it being recognized as a a dangerous thing to do with a chance of never bein I've just finished reading this book for a Utopian/Dystopian module on my University course and one thing I will say is that you'd probably appreciate this much more if you have previously read this sort of fiction.
The novel centers around a man named Julian West who lives in an extremely capitalist 19th century Boston. Mr West often has trouble sleeping, and is frequently put to sleep using a form of hypnosis. Despite it being recognized as a a dangerous thing to do with a chance of never being able to resurface from the trance like sleep, Mr West continues to participate. Without giving too much away, when Mr West does eventually wake after one nights sleep, he find himself amongst strangers, most notably Doctor Leete, who live in the year 2000, where America and various parts of the world have been transformed into a socialist utopia.
The majority of the novel follows a question/answer type format where Dr Leete explains all he can about this new socialist world where every members common aim is to help the State. This question/answer format is a common Utopian trope and admittedly is a useful way for the author, Edward Bellamy, to explore socialist ideas. Although this format can become very tiring and repetitive, Bellamy does try to give further interest through the form of a love interest for Mr West, although I did find this slightly forced and sidelined by the utopian ideas.
This novel is very well written and lays out clear and interesting ideas for a different, socialist way of life that I found forced me to question the world we live in today - ironically a world after the year 2000, yet a world that is nowhere near reaching the seemingly perfect balance Bellamy's novel depicts.
The Oxford University edition I read contained a useful introduction that explored many of the questions Bellamy raises, especially the idea of an Industrial Army that many people, and I think myself included, find quite disturbing. I would recommend this book as a lighter way of approaching utopian fiction as this novel has much more of a story and is more accessible than early texts such as Thomas More's Utopia.
Simo
Vuonna 2000 on mielenkiintoinen kuvaus siitä, millainen vuoden 2000 täydellinen maailma olisi erään 1800-luvun lopulla eläneen kirjailijan mielestä. Lukemisesta teki mielenkiintoista toisaalta kirjailijan positiivinen usko ihmisluontoon ja toisaalta menneen maailman ajattelun värittämän tulevaisuuskuvan vertailu nykymaailmaan. Esimerkiksi kirjallisuuden ja musiikin tulevaisuuden loistokkuuden kuvailua oli hauskaa lukea, kun arvostaa noita taiteenmuotoja mutta tietää, miten ne ovat omassa todelli Vuonna 2000 on mielenkiintoinen kuvaus siitä, millainen vuoden 2000 täydellinen maailma olisi erään 1800-luvun lopulla eläneen kirjailijan mielestä. Lukemisesta teki mielenkiintoista toisaalta kirjailijan positiivinen usko ihmisluontoon ja toisaalta menneen maailman ajattelun värittämän tulevaisuuskuvan vertailu nykymaailmaan. Esimerkiksi kirjallisuuden ja musiikin tulevaisuuden loistokkuuden kuvailua oli hauskaa lukea, kun arvostaa noita taiteenmuotoja mutta tietää, miten ne ovat omassa todellisuudessamme jääneet visuaalisen median varjoon.

Kaunokirjallisena teoksena Vuonna 2000 ei kuitenkaan ollut kummoinen. Tarina oli lähinnä tekosyy esitellä uutta uljasta maailmaa ja välillä pitkät monologit tulevaisuuden maailman edistyksestä olivat uuvuttavaa luettavaa. Suosittelen kuitenkin kirjaa kaikille utopiakirjallisuuden ystäville. Vaikken ehkä haluaisikaan elää aivan niin yhteisökeskeisessä maailmassa kuin Vuonna 2000 -kirjassa kuvataan, tuli kirjaa lukiessa kuitenkin sellainen olo, että maailma voisi olla kovin paljon parempi, jos ihmiset oppisivat olemaan.
Justin
Forget Nostradamus--Bellamy predicted shopping malls, credit cards and cars in his fictitious time-traveling story written in 1887 and looking forward to the year 2000 ("In the Year Two-Thousaaaannnnndddd....in the Year Two-ThousAAAAANNNNDDDD!")

While some of his more optimistic and Utopian fantasies aren't realized by modern society and Bellamy's writing drags a bit in places, it's fun and carefree without the bitter aftertaste of 1984 or Brave New World looming over like storm clouds.
Carly
In college, I took a class on Political Literature--a class designed to expose political and historical thoughts and feelings through literature. This would have been an excellent addition to such a class's curriculum, as I feel it is more political commentary disguised as fiction than it is fiction about politics.

Looking Backward is the story of a man who goes to sleep in 1887 Boston, and wakes up in 2000 Boston. (It is fiction, remember so this kind of jump can happen.) He awakens and learns of the incredible advancements society has made. Indeed every person is cared for, every person works, there are no poor, there are no crimes. The president serves 1 five year term (after being voted in my the army), and Congress meets but once every few years--and really doesn't make any new laws. Every man and woman is taken care of, given the same amount of 'credit' (money is a bad term, but it is essentially the same thing--a card that gets the same amount put onto it every month, and it isn't allowed to accumulate) regardless of how much they work or what they do. The genders are equal. People seem happy.

While it sounds like socialism, Bellamy is clear on this point: it is not. In fact it is capitalism. Extreme capitalism not in the way of Freidman and his associates, but capitalism in that everyone in the nation (and all nations by this point are run this way because it just makes more sense) works for one company--the nation. The county produces everything, and everyone gets an equal share. If there are certain types of work that are harder than others, those occupations work less hours.

An interesting look into how the evolution of capitalism does not have to mean only a few at the top succeeding, but in fact, the evolution and support of us all.
Elçin Buket Soylu
19. yüzyılın iğrençliğini, 21. yüzyılda yaşıyor olsakta hala o igrencligin devam ettigini gösteren çok güzel bir ütopyaydı. 20. yüzyılı kurgulayan bir ütopya oluşu ve 21. yüzyıla gelmiş olsak dahi değisen hiçbir şeyin olmaması çok üzücü. 1880lerden beri değişen hiçbir şey yok, hala sefalet hala açlık hala savaşlar hala birbirlerinin kuyusunu kazıp zenginleşmeye çalışan bir ton insan.
Fog Magic :: The Illuminatus! Trilogy :: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War :: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead :: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1
gabriel morales
As a story, it is terrible. One lecture after another. As a thought experiment about a future society, it still works.

I enjoyed hearing particulars of how Bellamy envisioned this future society. Ideas about how society should reward effort and sacrifice and not the final product are what contemporary radical thinkers, Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel for example, write about today.

A lot of the thinking however, especially around gender, has not aged gracefully at all. To the extent what we curr As a story, it is terrible. One lecture after another. As a thought experiment about a future society, it still works.

I enjoyed hearing particulars of how Bellamy envisioned this future society. Ideas about how society should reward effort and sacrifice and not the final product are what contemporary radical thinkers, Michael Albert and Robin Hahnel for example, write about today.

A lot of the thinking however, especially around gender, has not aged gracefully at all. To the extent what we currently believe survives the centuries, what will look as backwards as Bellamy looks on gender?
Carlos
There is always something uplifting about reading utopian novels. They really make you believe in the power to drastically change our society for the better. In this particular case, Bellamy also manages to make his suggestions for improving society seem utterly reasonable and advantageous. He is able to make the moral, economic and sociological case for the collectivization for which he advocates. It is only a pity that the far away time of the year 2000 has come and gone without humanity getti There is always something uplifting about reading utopian novels. They really make you believe in the power to drastically change our society for the better. In this particular case, Bellamy also manages to make his suggestions for improving society seem utterly reasonable and advantageous. He is able to make the moral, economic and sociological case for the collectivization for which he advocates. It is only a pity that the far away time of the year 2000 has come and gone without humanity getting any closer to his dream.
John Brian Anderson
Very well written in a more contemporary style than I expected. The preface was actually the best part of the book. Truth be told, I picked this up to see how accurately he had envisioned Boston in the year 2000. He was too smart for that and only referenced Washington Street and Charlestown in the most general way. The utopian socialist message still has a way to go I'm afraid, he missed on how slow to change society is, may by 2100?
Chanel Baron
So very interesting, wonderful, and ideal. Reading this book makes one question if an equal, money-less, happy social system could ever exist in the real world. But then, considering communist Russia, Nazi Germany, Brave New World, and 1984, it seems that these alternatives are more likely than a utopia as detailed in Looking Backward.
The book is largely dialogue and explanation. Would have liked a bit more action/plot/character development.
Kurt Hansen
I remember being somewhat disappointed after I read this book the first time. I think it stemmed from the large disconnect between the ways the author described the future (my present) and what I understand my present to be. I think perhaps the flaw in my reading of it was in not understanding much about politics and society (when I first read it) and therefore the points the author intended to make were not so clear to me.
Sam_Hamrick
A man from year 1887 wakes up in year 2000. The idea seems to be interesting, however it is implemented extremely bad. For sure, the book might be very intriguing in the time it was written. Dreams about bright future along with some bold ideas of equal rights. Nonetheless, nowadays it is very dull reading. All the characters are monotonous. They look like puppets, who are controlled by one man (obviously Edward Bellamy) and translate the same ideas, whitout any confrontation.
Julie
Writing in 1889 Bellamy describes the utopian society of year 2000 America. Amazingly he correctly predicts some technical advances but his basic premise, the end of capitalism and our money based economy, clearly did not come true. In the 1930's and 1960's we made some progress towards the equality of the society he predicted for 2000 but sadly are reversing our progress in recent years.
Joe Sabet
If someone has never read the communist manifesto, like a high school student, and wants to get exposed to an unheard of alternative society, then read this. If you're familiar with leftwing politics, then this book's arguments are familiar and a little laborious to read imo. The characters and events are shallow, but the arguments and few twists are interesting.
R.B. Wood
As a classic of utopian literature, I find the ideas presented by a late 1800's mind fascinating--and a little predictive of future conflicts. As a romance story, I've removed one star due to the Edith 2.0 creepiness factor.
Michael David
Bellamy was a bit of a clairvoyant in predicting the existence of credit cards, and the future of radio, but his utopian vision rested on humans being ultimately good. That was an extremely mistaken assumption, but it's nevertheless a good novel.
Jimmy Head
Not much speculation about technology of the year 2000. More of a sociological speculation. Socialism considered common sense and future smart people would see no better way to organize government and society.
Kari
1 part science fiction, 9 parts political diatribe. Also, sexism still exists in the enlightened future.
Molly
Unbelievable that this book was written in 1887!!
Liam Thomas
Not so much a novel as it is an essay on a socialist Utopia, but entertaining and worth reading nonetheless.
Mylesgorton
Interesting enough as a period piece of future utopian vision but the prose style is quite dense and of its time - consequently quite a difficult read and hard to keep going with
Nicole Skokowski
This book always appears in the APUSH notes on the gilded age. I was a bit fearful of tackling a book from that period but it is reasonably readable.
Chris Labib
This books has entirely provided my ideal economic society. I hope it would one day come true.
Aryssa
An interesting book, well written and keeps you wanting to eat more and the ending is a fun play on convention.
VexenReplica
I read this book because a good friend of mine absolutely adores it. That (and my pride) is the only reason I finished the book.
The book does a few good things: worldbuilding and putting on display how this utopia was created. This, however, takes up 90% of the book; it's basically some dude (Dr. Leete) sitting down with the protagonist (Mr. West) and saying "this is how we got here from YOUR day." It has a lot of its politics of its day incorporated into it, and it's pretty evident that this is I read this book because a good friend of mine absolutely adores it. That (and my pride) is the only reason I finished the book.
The book does a few good things: worldbuilding and putting on display how this utopia was created. This, however, takes up 90% of the book; it's basically some dude (Dr. Leete) sitting down with the protagonist (Mr. West) and saying "this is how we got here from YOUR day." It has a lot of its politics of its day incorporated into it, and it's pretty evident that this is the future Bellamy wants.
I think it would be more "successful" if, instead of just ginormous amounts of infodump plopped in front of the reader, there was a little action in the novel. Alas, we have men sitting around in armchairs chatting and/or listening to what equates to a radio. (fun fact: radios were invented in 1895, so there's actually some technological predictions going on here!)
There's a "plot" in the book, so if the trials and tribulations of a time traveler are of any interest to you, read the first few and last few chapters.
The main "secret" of the novel I guessed early on, and by the time I got to the "big reveal," I had lost interest in it.
Read this if you're looking for early US utopian works, a very detailed political worldbuilding, and lots of chatting. It helps to have some understanding of US political workings in the late 1800s too.
Rick
Bellamy uses a novel to imagine a utopia organized around an American brand of socialism. Written in the late 1880s, Looking Backward was a huge bestseller, third only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben Hur in turn of the century America and selling millions of copies worldwide. The premise is that Julian West, a gentleman of upper crust Bostonian leisure falls asleep on May 30, 1887, a mesmerist facilitating his insomnia-delayed sleep way too successfully, and is awakened on September 10, 2000. Bosto Bellamy uses a novel to imagine a utopia organized around an American brand of socialism. Written in the late 1880s, Looking Backward was a huge bestseller, third only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Ben Hur in turn of the century America and selling millions of copies worldwide. The premise is that Julian West, a gentleman of upper crust Bostonian leisure falls asleep on May 30, 1887, a mesmerist facilitating his insomnia-delayed sleep way too successfully, and is awakened on September 10, 2000. Boston in 1887 is an urban pigsty with poverty, pollution, labor strife, and corrosive class divisions. Boston in 2000 is utopia. Everything is fair, abundant, civilized, and well-ordered. The government manages everything in the name of the people and does so without corruption, mis-management, favoritism, or abuse of power. People retire at 45. Everyone is educated—even women! And life is governed by moderation, competence, reason and logic and a consensus on the common good.

Such plot as there is consists of two elements. One, will Mr. West ever not be surprised to discover that the way the future has solved some intractable social or economic issue was obvious, simple and logically irrefutable? Two, is Mr. West dreaming the future or actually awake in it? Not to spoil anyone’s fun but the answer to the first question is clear early on and the unchanging pattern of conversation between West and his host, Dr. Leete (and his companionable wife and lovely daughter, who coincidentally has the same first name as West’s fiancée from the 19th century—I wonder if that might lead to anything?), doesn’t ever challenge the pattern. It’s not often that I think favorably of Donald Trump but Bellamy might have been better served by having Julian be more like the Donald—arrogant, insistent, stupidly sure of himself, and dedicated to the proposition that any system that rewards him as well as it does is in no need of repair. Better than the Donald would have been any of the Robber Baron sensibilities in a character. It would have provided some tension to the story, even conflict. Instead there is none. It’s a series of predictable conversations about why this is so much better than it was. The book might as well have been titled Boy Did We Get That Wrong; You Guys Are So Smart!

The book’s indictment of irresponsible capitalism is strong (and not without many verifying echoes of economic catastrophe from 1888 to 2008) but it takes a dismissive back seat to the extolling of the virtues of the utopian Boston. Bellamy’s seer hat does anticipate the radio (via a telephone) and the credit card (even the name) but not the computer, the automobile, plane or space travel, TV, the electric guitar or changes in taste in music. This could be because the novel is mostly a colloquy about principles of societal organization or because Bellamy, as a social critic, lacks the imagination of a fantasist/science fiction writer. (A Randian exceptional man devotee might suggest that the absence of anything radically different is an unintended admission that the new utopia doesn’t allow the entrepreneurial freedom that might lead to those sorts of inventions. Let’s face it America you can’t have both the iPhone and a just society.) Nor does it much acknowledge the divisions of race or the mixed blessings of organized religions (though it’s not anti-religious at all), or individual and social vices other than associating them with the ills of capitalism (alcohol, drugs, prostitution).

More importantly than the lack of a vibrant plot or clever imaginative predictives of the future, Looking Backward lacks any kind of nitty-gritty description of how society changed. It wasn’t violent, we’re told, more like a Saul becomes Paul on the road to Damascus kind of thing. America (and then the world) just kind of woke up one day and saw through the madness of blind competition, corrosive social inequality, and the devastating consequences of a boom and bust economy and, like a Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland musical, said to itself, “Hey gang! Whattya say, let’s build a perfect society!” It’s simplistic and weak reading but an important artifact, not like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which is an interesting read in its own right. While too many elements of the description of 1887 Boston are as we move deeper into the second decade of the 21st century still unaddressed—and some reforms that did address various social ills are now under siege—you’d think the Looking Backward would still be important as ever but, alas, not as it’s written. For that there is Dickens, Sinclair, Steinbeck and others.
David Harris
* from a reader in Bellamy's future, December 14, 2004 *

I agree with other reviewers who have pointed out that Bellamy's book wasn't intended to foretell the future but rather to draw attention to ugly aspects of the society and times in which he lived. However, since others have already so eloquently dealt with that aspect of the book, I thought it might be fun to dwell on the sci-fi aspect of the book in my review.

Written in 1887, this novel is full of predictions about the year 2000. Bellamy * from a reader in Bellamy's future, December 14, 2004 *

I agree with other reviewers who have pointed out that Bellamy's book wasn't intended to foretell the future but rather to draw attention to ugly aspects of the society and times in which he lived. However, since others have already so eloquently dealt with that aspect of the book, I thought it might be fun to dwell on the sci-fi aspect of the book in my review.

Written in 1887, this novel is full of predictions about the year 2000. Bellamy gets a few things right, and he gets a few things wrong. Things have changed so radically since his day that it's fun to discover what a person from that time thought might come about in our time.

While airplanes and international phonecalls might have been foreseen, who could have imagined computers that understand human speech or even the Walkman - something that's pretty mundane by today's standards? And who could have possibly imagined such bizarre musical genres as disco, techno and rap? I suspect an equal number of surprises are in store for our descendants 130 years down the road.

Bellamy doesn't foresee any of the above. Nor does he mention automobiles or recorded music, two ideas that must surely have been under development already in his time. Instead, he foresees a time when various styles of music will be available 24 hours a day via telephone, all provided by real-live musicians. A time when all the public sidewalks of Boston will have awnings to keep the rain off those who get caught out in the middle of a rainstorm. And, if his predictions about how government will be run in our time are flat out wrong, the resulting situation isn't so far off. After all, the vast majority of Americans and many others around the globe live like the kings and queens that ruled their ancestors.

But if a greater number of people in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and many other parts of the world still live without adequate food and shelter, it only shows that we still have our work cut out for us. (More so than ever today, I suppose one might have to say.)

Bellamy's prose is surprisingly easy to read considering how long ago it was written. The reader does stumble across odd expressions here and there, but it's less strange than one might guess it would be. And the strangeness of the prose is part of what makes the reading interesting.

Also, the fact that Bellamy's predictions are so different from what one might guess at first thought suggests some interesting differences in thinking and culture between people living in the same country 100 years apart.

Decades of carefully crafted propoganda have convinced most Americans that big government is anathema while big business grows and grows until today a company like Wal-Mart has a virtual stranglehold on major suppliers of many types of goods. I agree with the indictment of big government, but I think it's the 'big' part that's the most dangerous thing, no matter what the organization.

In summary, I agree with many who feel there's still something to be gained from what we learn in this book despite the gross failure of communism and the problems, large and small, that plague socialist programs like Canadian and European national health care.

Visionaries in the business world and the sciences are constantly working on new models for improving our life. Paul Hawken tells some of their stories in his book _The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability_.
Norman Cook
Julian West, a well-to-do man of 30 years, falls asleep in May 1887, only to awaken in December 2000, on the cusp of the 21st Century (the book rightly places the year 2000 in the 20th Century). West is found and revived by Dr. Leete. This sets up a prolonged dialog between the two as Dr. Leete explains how the socialist utopia of his time came to be and how it works. The dialog really is an excuse for long monologs by the author through the mouthpiece of Dr. Leete as to why socialism is so much Julian West, a well-to-do man of 30 years, falls asleep in May 1887, only to awaken in December 2000, on the cusp of the 21st Century (the book rightly places the year 2000 in the 20th Century). West is found and revived by Dr. Leete. This sets up a prolonged dialog between the two as Dr. Leete explains how the socialist utopia of his time came to be and how it works. The dialog really is an excuse for long monologs by the author through the mouthpiece of Dr. Leete as to why socialism is so much better than the miserable conditions of his own time.
Almost every conceivable political and social facet of the socialist utopia is discussed, from how goods are manufactured and distributed, to how courts work, to schools, and much more. The government owns all businesses, and workers are assigned jobs when they turn 21. They work until they are 45, move into semi-retirement (i.e., on call if needed), and full retirement at 55 when they are able and encouraged to explore their interests to the fullest. Everyone receives the same “salary” (money has been abolished); less desirable jobs made more enticing by shorter working hours.
The book fails to mention much of anything about technological changes or other aspects of 20th Century life such as fashion, entertainment, or dining. There is a brief mention of how music is transmitted remotely into homes using telephonic equipment, and how the music can be synced automatically with a clock to wake one up in the morning.
There is an interchange from the book I found most interesting:

"In my day," [West] replied, "it was considered that the proper functions of government, strictly speaking, were limited to keeping the peace and defending the people against the public enemy, that is, to the military and police powers."
"And, in heaven's name, who are the public enemies?" exclaimed Dr. Leete. "Are they France, England, Germany, or hunger, cold, and nakedness? In your day governments were accustomed, on the slightest international misunderstanding, to seize upon the bodies of citizens and deliver them over by hundreds of thousands to death and mutilation, wasting their treasures the while like water; and all this oftenest for no imaginable profit to the victims. We have no wars now, and our governments no war powers, but in order to protect every citizen against hunger, cold, and nakedness, and provide for all his physical and mental needs, the function is assumed of directing his industry for a term of years. No, Mr. West, I am sure on reflection you will perceive that it was in your age, not in ours, that the extension of the functions of governments was extraordinary. Not even for the best ends would men now allow their governments such powers as were then used for the most maleficent."

I think this is an excellent argument of why things like welfare, health care, and some other government functions are worthwhile.
As to some of the other sentiments expressed in the book, I think that the author was a bit too optimistic about human nature. His socialist utopia might look good on paper, but the frailties of man would block its reality, at least in any foreseeable future.
As a primer on socialism, Looking Backward is probably more understandable than an academic paper. As a novel, though, it is mostly a tough slog.
Justin
Forget Nostradamus--Bellamy predicted shopping malls, credit cards and cars in his fictitious time-traveling story written in 1887 and looking forward to the year 2000 ("In the Year Two-Thousaaaannnnndddd....in the Year Two-ThousAAAAANNNNDDDD!")

While some of his more optimistic and Utopian fantasies aren't realized by modern society and Bellamy's writing drags a bit in places, it's fun and carefree without the bitter aftertaste of 1984 or Brave New World looming over like storm clouds.
Carly
In college, I took a class on Political Literature--a class designed to expose political and historical thoughts and feelings through literature. This would have been an excellent addition to such a class's curriculum, as I feel it is more political commentary disguised as fiction than it is fiction about politics.

Looking Backward is the story of a man who goes to sleep in 1887 Boston, and wakes up in 2000 Boston. (It is fiction, remember so this kind of jump can happen.) He awakens and learns of the incredible advancements society has made. Indeed every person is cared for, every person works, there are no poor, there are no crimes. The president serves 1 five year term (after being voted in my the army), and Congress meets but once every few years--and really doesn't make any new laws. Every man and woman is taken care of, given the same amount of 'credit' (money is a bad term, but it is essentially the same thing--a card that gets the same amount put onto it every month, and it isn't allowed to accumulate) regardless of how much they work or what they do. The genders are equal. People seem happy.

While it sounds like socialism, Bellamy is clear on this point: it is not. In fact it is capitalism. Extreme capitalism not in the way of Freidman and his associates, but capitalism in that everyone in the nation (and all nations by this point are run this way because it just makes more sense) works for one company--the nation. The county produces everything, and everyone gets an equal share. If there are certain types of work that are harder than others, those occupations work less hours.

An interesting look into how the evolution of capitalism does not have to mean only a few at the top succeeding, but in fact, the evolution and support of us all.
Elçin Buket Soylu
19. yüzyılın iğrençliğini, 21. yüzyılda yaşıyor olsakta hala o igrencligin devam ettigini gösteren çok güzel bir ütopyaydı. 20. yüzyılı kurgulayan bir ütopya oluşu ve 21. yüzyıla gelmiş olsak dahi değisen hiçbir şeyin olmaması çok üzücü. 1880lerden beri değişen hiçbir şey yok, hala sefalet hala açlık hala savaşlar hala birbirlerinin kuyusunu kazıp zenginleşmeye çalışan bir ton insan.
Fog Magic :: The Illuminatus! Trilogy :: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War :: The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead :: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1
Taggerung
It's not the easiest of reads. This book took me nearly a month to finish, and not because I lacked enthusiasm for the story.

The explanations and descriptions are incredibly detailed and gave a deep insight into the future the author envisioned. The difficulty the main character has in adapting to this or even to understand it was difficult for me to read through, which makes the author a good one. Not everyone can stir up emotions like that.

It's also written in an older style, one with what m It's not the easiest of reads. This book took me nearly a month to finish, and not because I lacked enthusiasm for the story.

The explanations and descriptions are incredibly detailed and gave a deep insight into the future the author envisioned. The difficulty the main character has in adapting to this or even to understand it was difficult for me to read through, which makes the author a good one. Not everyone can stir up emotions like that.

It's also written in an older style, one with what modern readers find boring and tedious to read through, and while I can and have read many old books and even creation myths, this was one of the more difficult ones. Personally, I think it was the pages and pages of descriptions of the world and the way of life that made it hard for me. Simply giving information without showing or going out into the world or giving personal insight from the main character beyond shock or lack of understanding was not a hit with me.

The ending was a great twist, by starting to end the way I thought it would but then going in a different direction that I was happy to end the book with.

Not a book I'd recommend for beach or vacation reading, but it did work well chapter by chapter for short lunch breaks over a few weeks.
Wayne
An interesting read. A late 19th-century utopian novel, featuring a protagonist who (through ludicrous means) pulls a Rip Van Winkle and awakens in the astonishingly carefree year 2000, where all of society's ills have remarkably been solved. It's rather a failure as an actual novel, as after that point there's practically no plot to speak of; instead, almost the entirety of the book features what's essentially one protracted, week-long conversation discussing the features of the new age. Which An interesting read. A late 19th-century utopian novel, featuring a protagonist who (through ludicrous means) pulls a Rip Van Winkle and awakens in the astonishingly carefree year 2000, where all of society's ills have remarkably been solved. It's rather a failure as an actual novel, as after that point there's practically no plot to speak of; instead, almost the entirety of the book features what's essentially one protracted, week-long conversation discussing the features of the new age. Which is fine to an extent, as the book is concerned not with being a novel - I don't think anyone would accuse Bellamy of being a natural storyteller - but rather as a quite overt critique of 19th century Western society.

This was a huge hit at the time, and was surprisingly influential. It's impressive to see how the novel was able to predict such inventions as radio and shopping malls, and the major identified root problem (that the society of 2000 has solved) is quite clearly the same ills that recently gave rise to the "Occupy Wall Street" movement.

Still, it's an incredibly dry read, and while I'm glad to have finished the book, I don't think more Bellamy is in my future...
Anthony Iannitti
I found this book very interesting. I liked the way Bellamy gives his opinion on what the future should be so everyone benefited. I believe people should read this book so they can have a different opinion on what the future should be. I do not think you should read this book if you are looking for a book with a good story and interesting plot. But the book taught an idea: socialism. I believe people should read this book to get a working idea of what socialism is. The book does a good job in ex I found this book very interesting. I liked the way Bellamy gives his opinion on what the future should be so everyone benefited. I believe people should read this book so they can have a different opinion on what the future should be. I do not think you should read this book if you are looking for a book with a good story and interesting plot. But the book taught an idea: socialism. I believe people should read this book to get a working idea of what socialism is. The book does a good job in explaining and justifying socialism. One thing I did not like about the book was Bellamy's view on professional sports. Bellamy says, “The professional sportsmen, which were such a curious feature of your day, we have nothing answering to, nor are the prizes for which our athletes contend money prizes, as with you. Our contests are always for glory only". I find this unappealing. Professional athletes are such a sought out profession in our days I think it is ludicrous to think they will not be around in the future. Overall, the book was an interesting view into Bellamy's view of the future and the way he envisioned a United States ran by socialism.
Kyle Schroeckenthaler
In a postscript Bellamy attempts to address the criticism that his social structure couldn't evolve in a mere three generations. I think generally he fails. He makes pretty decent critics of the social, economic and moral infrastructure of the end of the 19th century (which is amazingly similar to today... It was a little eerie living in Boston and reading about neighborhoods, etc...). However, I think he is totally lacking on the psychological aspect of social institutions. His world is fantast In a postscript Bellamy attempts to address the criticism that his social structure couldn't evolve in a mere three generations. I think generally he fails. He makes pretty decent critics of the social, economic and moral infrastructure of the end of the 19th century (which is amazingly similar to today... It was a little eerie living in Boston and reading about neighborhoods, etc...). However, I think he is totally lacking on the psychological aspect of social institutions. His world is fantastic but he skips any of the heavy lifting of trying to figure out how the transition might have happened. It's also a little internally contradictory. He imagines being able to dispense with money, but there is clearly an equivalent accounting until in terms of peoples hours of work. Also it seems that there would almost certainly be some kind of black market.. Not everyone would consider his society a perfect paradise. And there is no explanation of why there is no long any need for a military... His is a national system, not a global system... National defense still seems as though it would matter.
Benjamin Liu
Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy is a novel about the changes that Bellamy foresaw occurring from 1884 to 2000 in order to make a perfect America. It is extremely dialogue-heavy due to the fact that every change that has happened must be explained by one single character. But the novel does contain a feeble, yet present, attempt at story. On page 78 of the 158 page novel, Bellamy describes how "in literature, the people are the sole judges." I believe that this is true even in the comparativel Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy is a novel about the changes that Bellamy foresaw occurring from 1884 to 2000 in order to make a perfect America. It is extremely dialogue-heavy due to the fact that every change that has happened must be explained by one single character. But the novel does contain a feeble, yet present, attempt at story. On page 78 of the 158 page novel, Bellamy describes how "in literature, the people are the sole judges." I believe that this is true even in the comparatively barbaric society of present day, and I would judge this book as follows:

It is a good read for those who are interested in seeing what a denizen of the late 19th century thought the year 2000 would be like. Surprisingly, Bellamy is able to accurately predict some of the systems present today, albeit without the advanced technological applications. I would recommend Looking Backward to anyone who is skeptical about the possibility of ever having a perfect nation with economic and social equality for all. But in my opinion, Looking Backward is not a very well written novel and the dramatic portion seems as if it could have been written in its entirety in five short pages.
Andrea
I'm so glad I read this, I rather enjoy utopian fiction and it's certainly fascinating to glimpse at what Bellamy hoped and imagined for the year 2000. It feels funny writing from someone else's future.
Looking Backward, although in form a fanciful romance, is intended, in all seriousness, as a forecast, in accordance with the principles of evolution, of the next stage in the industrial and social development of humanity...
It's definitely a rather soporific vision of a socialist future with a v I'm so glad I read this, I rather enjoy utopian fiction and it's certainly fascinating to glimpse at what Bellamy hoped and imagined for the year 2000. It feels funny writing from someone else's future.
Looking Backward, although in form a fanciful romance, is intended, in all seriousness, as a forecast, in accordance with the principles of evolution, of the next stage in the industrial and social development of humanity...
It's definitely a rather soporific vision of a socialist future with a veneer of romance, and it's definitely rather taken with Darwin. The section on natural selection will give you a twinge (as will his view of communists as capitalist agents). It does make you think about how far we've come, women in particular, and how shite our world continues to be. Not that I believe state centralisation and universal 'credit cards' are quite the answer, but I did love the music that is phoned into every home -- he was writing before radio! Amazing! It had impact on politics at the time, and I remember the Bellamites from history classes, I only wish its impact might have been greater.
Charlie
I thought this this book was the most thought provoking book I've every read. It really made me think about our society today and about the society that Bellamy portrayed. I found myself not just thinking about the book when I read it but also during class or my free time. I was always turning over questions in my head of there society and our society. So, that is one reason you should read it. Another reason you should read this book is it is interesting to see what the people of the late 1800' I thought this this book was the most thought provoking book I've every read. It really made me think about our society today and about the society that Bellamy portrayed. I found myself not just thinking about the book when I read it but also during class or my free time. I was always turning over questions in my head of there society and our society. So, that is one reason you should read it. Another reason you should read this book is it is interesting to see what the people of the late 1800's thought the world in 2000 was going to look like. It is interesting to see what Bellamy predicted correctly and what he predicted incorrectly. It was like being inside his mind being able to see his wants and needs. One reason I found that you should not read it is it basically promotes a marxist society as plausible. I don't think that it is. "But as soon as the nation became the sole producer of all sorts of commodities" (Bellamy 83). It says that the government should be the sole owner and producer of everything. I simply do not agree with this so, I do not recommend it. I guess if you do agree with it then it is more of a reason to read it. It is just my opinion.
Amber
This book is said to be the most widely read book of its time, the late 1800s. A young man falls asleep for 100 years and awakens in 2000 to a brand new, utopic world. Luckily, he is found by a highly educated conversationalist, who tells him about the massive changes society has undertaken. Instead of the heartlessness that is capitalism, Bellamy describes a nationalist society where there are no differences in human worth, where everyone is equal and as such crime, over consumption and poverty This book is said to be the most widely read book of its time, the late 1800s. A young man falls asleep for 100 years and awakens in 2000 to a brand new, utopic world. Luckily, he is found by a highly educated conversationalist, who tells him about the massive changes society has undertaken. Instead of the heartlessness that is capitalism, Bellamy describes a nationalist society where there are no differences in human worth, where everyone is equal and as such crime, over consumption and poverty are horrors of the past.

This is very much a book for the idealist to think about how the world would be different if we were all equal, just be virtue of being human. Bellamy had a vision, and while we are far from realizing that vision, this is an interesting book to read, if for no on other reason that it reveals a message people connected to.

P.S. A lot of the reviews rough up the book given the material on the status of women, and while some of it is warranted, for the context of his time I believe Bellamy was a bit more of a feminist than most.
Natalie Moon
I picked this book up at a used book shop after reading about it in my AP US Histroy text book. It had a pungant odor to it, the copy I picked up, and was dyed a light yellow color, like some kind of rodent had urinated all over it. I enjoyed it despite the smell. It tells a pretty good guestimation of how the millenium (2000) would be and was written a hundred years before. I enjoyed the way Bellamy thought we would listen to music in our future. We picked up a telephone and listened to live pe I picked this book up at a used book shop after reading about it in my AP US Histroy text book. It had a pungant odor to it, the copy I picked up, and was dyed a light yellow color, like some kind of rodent had urinated all over it. I enjoyed it despite the smell. It tells a pretty good guestimation of how the millenium (2000) would be and was written a hundred years before. I enjoyed the way Bellamy thought we would listen to music in our future. We picked up a telephone and listened to live perfomances. That would be neat but CDs and MP3s are a lot easier. The millenial society was pretty peaceful and well ordered. The main character falls asleep for a hundred years and wakes up to witness all the people of the future. The rest of the details are fuzzy but it was a good book to read in December of 1999.
I lent my odorous copy to a kid in my class, Gil Kenner, and he said his dog tore it apart because of the rodent pee. So I'm looking forward to owning a fresh new copy of it someday.
Greg
This is one crazy utopia novel. As is generally the case, there's a lot of goofy foolishness in it, and also some pretty good ideas. It sort of predicts online shopping (by way of universal socialism, so go figure). But what it'll probably be remembered for nowadays (2017) if anything, is universal basic income (or whatever the current term is). As in, each person in society gets a set income based on some formula for all the stuff bought and sold on Earth, just for being alive. In Looking Back This is one crazy utopia novel. As is generally the case, there's a lot of goofy foolishness in it, and also some pretty good ideas. It sort of predicts online shopping (by way of universal socialism, so go figure). But what it'll probably be remembered for nowadays (2017) if anything, is universal basic income (or whatever the current term is). As in, each person in society gets a set income based on some formula for all the stuff bought and sold on Earth, just for being alive. In Looking Backward it's more because society has reached a point where industry is so efficient that not much work is needed, so everyone gets to spend their time working on hobbies or whatever they like (sounds nice). These days (2017 and beyond) if it comes to that, it'll be more like there are computers and robots doing all the work, so there's nothing much for wanna-be workers to do. We'll see how it all turns out, but hopefully it's a little more interesting than the dull, pedantic, if well-provisioned world of Looking Backward.
Adam Geisler
This is certainly a good moment to try to escape into a utopian novel to try to imagine a better world. The idyllic setting of Bellamy's imaginary state happens to be Boston in the year 2000 seen through the eyes of a fellow from the late 19th century (Bellamy's own era) who awakes after a Rip Van Winkle-like slumber. Reading it now makes it difficult to appreciate how optimistic Bellamy was about emerging from the Industrial Revolution with a higher societal consciousness. It's a tough sell. Mu This is certainly a good moment to try to escape into a utopian novel to try to imagine a better world. The idyllic setting of Bellamy's imaginary state happens to be Boston in the year 2000 seen through the eyes of a fellow from the late 19th century (Bellamy's own era) who awakes after a Rip Van Winkle-like slumber. Reading it now makes it difficult to appreciate how optimistic Bellamy was about emerging from the Industrial Revolution with a higher societal consciousness. It's a tough sell. Much of it is based on Marxist ideals of divisions of labor that have since been shown to be improbable in practice. The story itself follows a Socratic approach wherein the protagonist has a prolonged conversation with two members of the "new world." I understand the author's intent in using this device, but the dialogue often comes off as pedantic. In the end, it was a nice escape to enter Bellamy's dream world, but I never quite got lost in that dream, and our waking reality sure has been rude.
Staci
Obviously, it's important and all that jazz, but it's also strangely compelling for a book whose entire content you can predict from the second chapter on. I think it's the nineteenth-century optimism of it all.

It's also amazing to have a futuristic book with no new technology - clearly, that's not the priority here, but you won't see any rocket powered shoes. (So he's more dead on about 2000 than Back To The Future was.) Even the slight improvements, like the pump-into-your home music is still Obviously, it's important and all that jazz, but it's also strangely compelling for a book whose entire content you can predict from the second chapter on. I think it's the nineteenth-century optimism of it all.

It's also amazing to have a futuristic book with no new technology - clearly, that's not the priority here, but you won't see any rocket powered shoes. (So he's more dead on about 2000 than Back To The Future was.) Even the slight improvements, like the pump-into-your home music is still played live (also Liz and I confirmed that the phonograph had been invented before the book was written).

The ending (do I really need to hide the ending of a predictable book over 100 years old?) has my cliche sense out of whack - is the double dream a double cop out? or does he redeem himself? (Or is it just funny that even in a political barely-even-a-novel, there must absolutely be a marriage of beautiful people in order for it to end?)

It's made me wonder what sea changes of thought or behavior I don't see going on around me.. probably most of them.
John Zorko
As an emotional plea for a better world, it succeeds - we can do much better than we are. As an economic one, though, despite correctly identifying the issue with the very few hoarding the majority of the capital of a society, it has serious flaws. Also, for all of the talk of equality in the society described by the book, women - whose role in this society, by the way, is scarcely mentioned until the last 40 pages or so - occupy a political realm that sounds more separate-but-equal than actuall As an emotional plea for a better world, it succeeds - we can do much better than we are. As an economic one, though, despite correctly identifying the issue with the very few hoarding the majority of the capital of a society, it has serious flaws. Also, for all of the talk of equality in the society described by the book, women - whose role in this society, by the way, is scarcely mentioned until the last 40 pages or so - occupy a political realm that sounds more separate-but-equal than actually equal, and even there, only those who have been wives and mothers can aspire to the upper echelons therein, "as they alone fully represent their sex."

Oh, here's another one: "Such beauty and such goodness quite melted me, and it seemed that the only fitting response I could make was to tell her just the truth. Of course I had not a spark of hope, but on the other hand I had no fear that she would be angry. She was too pitiful for that."

Ugh, i'm _so_ tired of reading "classic" literature that treats the female half of humanity so condascendingly.
Dorer002
I thought the book had a very interesting premise. The idea of reading a book in 2012, written in 1887, about a person from the 1880s time traveling to the year 2000, is a bit convoluted, but it was fun. I'd never heard of this book, but it apparently made quite a splash, and is considered one of the most influential books on Marxism/socialism. I did think the idea that the future was perfect was a bit silly, especially the explanation of how women all love their roles and have their own types o I thought the book had a very interesting premise. The idea of reading a book in 2012, written in 1887, about a person from the 1880s time traveling to the year 2000, is a bit convoluted, but it was fun. I'd never heard of this book, but it apparently made quite a splash, and is considered one of the most influential books on Marxism/socialism. I did think the idea that the future was perfect was a bit silly, especially the explanation of how women all love their roles and have their own types of jobs, etc. And I was hoping they would mention race, at least in passing (especially with all the focus on equality and "brotherhood of man") but no such luck. Also, I thought the romance was stilted, and the "futuristic technology" was silly, and the idea that people in the year 2000 would talk and dress basically the same as in the 1880s was funny, but so much of that is because I AM reading it in the future and can know how things actually turned out.
Remi Harazim
In Looking Backward, Bellamy describes a perfect society with astonishing detail. Almost every facet of everyday life is addressed, with a parallel "solution" in a utopia. One reason to read this book is to find the similarities between modern culture and the culture of the 19th century. While this book was written in the 1800's, the "problems" that are professed in the novel are problems that modern society encounters today. Bellamy suggests a culture where people "are fellows of one race -- me In Looking Backward, Bellamy describes a perfect society with astonishing detail. Almost every facet of everyday life is addressed, with a parallel "solution" in a utopia. One reason to read this book is to find the similarities between modern culture and the culture of the 19th century. While this book was written in the 1800's, the "problems" that are professed in the novel are problems that modern society encounters today. Bellamy suggests a culture where people "are fellows of one race -- members of one human family" (pg 135). This wise solution, and other solutions are another reason to read the novel: to look at problems through different lenses and to see possible solutions. However, one would expect an embedded plot within this moral preaching, but that is where the novel lacks. Still, the novel provides a social and moral commentary on society that can still be applied to many aspects of current culture.
Reid
Utopia. Believable and somewhat appealingly so, if the setting's going to be your basic late 20th Century US. It exploits the idea of efficiencies of scale, and really foresees the giant box stores. It's not unlike the biggest monopolies taking over more and more, until they own and run everything, and then the government takes over that monopoly. It's not a huge stretch of the imagination, really, and Bellamy explains all the workings of how to keep people fairly happily employed and motivated Utopia. Believable and somewhat appealingly so, if the setting's going to be your basic late 20th Century US. It exploits the idea of efficiencies of scale, and really foresees the giant box stores. It's not unlike the biggest monopolies taking over more and more, until they own and run everything, and then the government takes over that monopoly. It's not a huge stretch of the imagination, really, and Bellamy explains all the workings of how to keep people fairly happily employed and motivated and striving, but with plenty of leisure, too. (Blasphemy!) The book apparently caused many public debates, at least in writing. This novel is a "talky" - there's not much action, but it is set up in a pretty cool way - a guy essentially accidentally goes into a self-induced coma and wakes up about 100 years later, to his confusion and surprise, and we walk along with him as he has the new world explained to him. Thumbs up.
Scrappycarol
I first read this book in High School and decided to read it again after (ahem) quite a few years' passage of time. After all that time in between reads, the change in perspective is interesting. Now I can see it for what it is... a Socialist manifesto. The society described (at times in mind-numbing detail) sounds great, for the most part, aside from the patronizing view of women (to be expected from a book writen in the 1880's). However, with human nature being what it is, it is all quite the I first read this book in High School and decided to read it again after (ahem) quite a few years' passage of time. After all that time in between reads, the change in perspective is interesting. Now I can see it for what it is... a Socialist manifesto. The society described (at times in mind-numbing detail) sounds great, for the most part, aside from the patronizing view of women (to be expected from a book writen in the 1880's). However, with human nature being what it is, it is all quite the pipe dream.

The story at times gets almost lost in the long, drawn-out discourses explaining every detail of Socialist utopian life. This is not really a novel; it is a defense of Socialist theory tied with the thread of a story to hold it together. All in all, not as compelling as I found it in High School, when my own ideals and philosophies were wholly unformed. I couldn't hang in there to the very end this time around.
Nick
Makes modern readers realize what socialism really is. It is an extreme version of Rousseau's general will, in which everyone gives up their rights to the state so that they will all be equal, equal to use the state to interfere in others lives for the common good. The state becomes unlimited, because there is nothing outside of it. It isn't tyrannical because it is us. Imagine if everybody worked for the government. It managing out lives is just managing itself, our actions affect the whole.

The Makes modern readers realize what socialism really is. It is an extreme version of Rousseau's general will, in which everyone gives up their rights to the state so that they will all be equal, equal to use the state to interfere in others lives for the common good. The state becomes unlimited, because there is nothing outside of it. It isn't tyrannical because it is us. Imagine if everybody worked for the government. It managing out lives is just managing itself, our actions affect the whole.

The book is very preachy, as most of it is a kind of platonic dialogue on economics. Not terribly interesting. Which is a shame since the actual story is interesting in the future technology it overshadowed like credit cards, radios, and malls. And it is one of the first time travel stories, and science fiction novels. Interesting story and ideas, but could have gone HG Wells' route making these themes within the plot. Little more than a historical curiosity.
Andrew
There are many reasons as to why this book would be a good book to read. One of the reasons is because it can provide an example for how we should live our lives, like helping and lifting up the poor. Another way that it can be an example is in the way that they run the court systems, like using no defense attorney because the only interest should be " to find out the truth" (Chapter 19, paragraph 7). These examples, or something similar, should be what we should strive for. However, this is not There are many reasons as to why this book would be a good book to read. One of the reasons is because it can provide an example for how we should live our lives, like helping and lifting up the poor. Another way that it can be an example is in the way that they run the court systems, like using no defense attorney because the only interest should be " to find out the truth" (Chapter 19, paragraph 7). These examples, or something similar, should be what we should strive for. However, this is not a book for those who become frustrated with arrogance or political impossibilities. Many times in the book, the people of the year 2000 show arrogance in what they believe and how they think, the most prominent example of this being their belief that war is an impossibility due to their system of trade, having not indicated any sort of back up plan in case they are wrong. All in all, this is a good read, but not one that one should take to seriously.
Brad Keenen
This book sparked a lot of deep thought in the reader if one takes the time to think about the themes throughout. It provided an interesting outlook on socialism, and truly encapsulates all aspects of society. The protagonist time travels and does not understand the new social structure, and remarks after his first glimpse of the city, "what impresses me most about the city is the material prosperity on the part of the people which its magnificence implies." From then on, the book focuses on exp This book sparked a lot of deep thought in the reader if one takes the time to think about the themes throughout. It provided an interesting outlook on socialism, and truly encapsulates all aspects of society. The protagonist time travels and does not understand the new social structure, and remarks after his first glimpse of the city, "what impresses me most about the city is the material prosperity on the part of the people which its magnificence implies." From then on, the book focuses on explaining the intricacies of this model society and its differences from the past. My biggest criticism was that the plot barely moved, and easily have been as thorough using a third of the pages. This book was thought provoking and raised interesting points, but the lack of plot and movement made it a pretty boring read.
Bob
This is one of the books that I did not feel obliged to finish and don't feel faintly guilty, having "gotten the idea". The narrator has become displaced in time, going to sleep in 1887 Boston and waking up in 2000. Since the former year is when the novel was written, it fits into the ontological category of "the past's notion of what the future would be like" which we enjoy everywhere from H.G. Wells to William Gibson to Saarinen's TWA Terminal building ( http://farm1.static.flickr.com/174/41.. This is one of the books that I did not feel obliged to finish and don't feel faintly guilty, having "gotten the idea". The narrator has become displaced in time, going to sleep in 1887 Boston and waking up in 2000. Since the former year is when the novel was written, it fits into the ontological category of "the past's notion of what the future would be like" which we enjoy everywhere from H.G. Wells to William Gibson to Saarinen's TWA Terminal building ( http://farm1.static.flickr.com/174/41... )

However, technological predictions aside, it is the novel's utopian vision of an idealized social organization which makes it exemplary of the Progressive era in which it was written. This utopia, you may not be surprised to hear, has rather a lot of the benign fascism of Plato's Republic in its makeup. Not for me, but maybe you?
Eric Kalenze
Yet another great read I previously never knew existed, recommended by Schmidt's 'The Novel: A Biography'. (If you need good reading suggestions for the next, oh, 3 years, you really should check the Schmidt out.)

Written in the late 1800s, Bellamy takes a look at turn-of-the-millennium America that is far rosier than things have actually turned out, making some eerily accurate predictions along the way. As one deeply familiar--and, I should add, in love with--19th century lit, I was a little cau Yet another great read I previously never knew existed, recommended by Schmidt's 'The Novel: A Biography'. (If you need good reading suggestions for the next, oh, 3 years, you really should check the Schmidt out.)

Written in the late 1800s, Bellamy takes a look at turn-of-the-millennium America that is far rosier than things have actually turned out, making some eerily accurate predictions along the way. As one deeply familiar--and, I should add, in love with--19th century lit, I was a little caught off-guard by all Bellamy accomplished here.

(If you pick it up, see if you can get an edition with the postscript from Bellamy--a response he wrote to a critic's review of the book--that mine did. It's only a few pages long, but it expresses some hopes that put a fairly crushing point on the whole 'What the hell have we done with this place?' feel the novel creates.)

Recommended!
Shelley
I have never read this one before and I am excited. The library is holding it for me to pick up today. I can't wait. It sounds like a fun read!

Okay book. I was expecting more but I guess for when it was written it was pretty cutting edge. I was amused that Bellamy did not even attempt to address the issues of women's fashion. He briefly touched on men's fashion in 2000 and how it was not much different than in 1887 but he did not even guess at how women would be dressing. That was kind of funny I have never read this one before and I am excited. The library is holding it for me to pick up today. I can't wait. It sounds like a fun read!

Okay book. I was expecting more but I guess for when it was written it was pretty cutting edge. I was amused that Bellamy did not even attempt to address the issues of women's fashion. He briefly touched on men's fashion in 2000 and how it was not much different than in 1887 but he did not even guess at how women would be dressing. That was kind of funny to me. Some of his ideas are scary as far as how much control the government had but I guess if his ideas were implemented exactly as they were written, it would be a utopia.

If you are interested in politics and lots of detail about how society is organized and set up and all the details about how it might work, this is the book for you.
Steven Gutierrez
A wonderful theory neatly forced into a simple novel.

Julian West wakes to a future where society has restructured and become a paradise where greed is eliminated and all industries are efficient resulting in bountiful resources and happy people.

The narrative is based on Q&A style dialogue between West and Dr Leete who looks after West at his home. Many topics are discussed ranging from shopping to publishing and Bellamy doesn't shy away from detail.

Read this is you like envisioning an altern A wonderful theory neatly forced into a simple novel.

Julian West wakes to a future where society has restructured and become a paradise where greed is eliminated and all industries are efficient resulting in bountiful resources and happy people.

The narrative is based on Q&A style dialogue between West and Dr Leete who looks after West at his home. Many topics are discussed ranging from shopping to publishing and Bellamy doesn't shy away from detail.

Read this is you like envisioning an alternative society, positive and almost realistic. Maybe don't bother if you're after a typical novel based around circumstances and characters.

I think Bellamy wrote this to get his idea across in a more interesting format than an academic paper and if that's the case then he did an excellent job resulting in something like a reverse 1984 and The Sleeper Wakes.
Gimena
This book details Edward Bellamy's thought on what a future society might look like. He goes into incredible detail into the nuts and bolts of the organization of the labor force, the media, food distribution, and the distribution of household goods. It is very interesting to realize how in some aspects, we have advanced much further than people from the 1800's could have imagined. However, at the same time we get to see how our current society falls short of the expectations from that era.

Polit This book details Edward Bellamy's thought on what a future society might look like. He goes into incredible detail into the nuts and bolts of the organization of the labor force, the media, food distribution, and the distribution of household goods. It is very interesting to realize how in some aspects, we have advanced much further than people from the 1800's could have imagined. However, at the same time we get to see how our current society falls short of the expectations from that era.

Politically, I don't agree with several parts of the book. For example, the parts about women and their role in society, are based on the 1800's idea of what a woman should and shouldn't do. Also, the question of race is never mentioned.

All in all, this is a good quick read. This book is perfect for those that want some ideas of what a future society could look like.
Vincent
I read this book – a science fiction from 1887 – about a fictional future year 2000 utopian society. It was recommend by Patrick Allitt, a lecturer for the Teaching Company in one of their audio courses.

It is very interesting in the layout and the existence of both credit cards and sort of “on line- on demand” entertainment.

It is a bit repetitive but that much. It drags a bit but it is a view from a century and a quarter ago. I do not believe it would work, the society, but it is interesting to I read this book – a science fiction from 1887 – about a fictional future year 2000 utopian society. It was recommend by Patrick Allitt, a lecturer for the Teaching Company in one of their audio courses.

It is very interesting in the layout and the existence of both credit cards and sort of “on line- on demand” entertainment.

It is a bit repetitive but that much. It drags a bit but it is a view from a century and a quarter ago. I do not believe it would work, the society, but it is interesting to see. I understand the book was a best seller for quite some time.

The one I borrowed form the library was copyright 1951 with three other copyright dates between the initial in 1887 and 1951 – 1889, 1915 & 1917. I would guess the 1915 and the 1917 as a result of WWI and I am now curious what the forward and afterward may have said – maybe I will look in another library.
Rebecca Hill
What an adventure through time, society and personal self. The book is a conversation between one man who has been displaced in time, with the three family members who find him in this new time. The explanations of the changes in society are very interesting in a lot of cases and very frightening in others. I love the perspective of corporations, banks and religion in the new utopian world Mr. West finds himself in. However, the living, social and sexist perspectives were a little more than I ca What an adventure through time, society and personal self. The book is a conversation between one man who has been displaced in time, with the three family members who find him in this new time. The explanations of the changes in society are very interesting in a lot of cases and very frightening in others. I love the perspective of corporations, banks and religion in the new utopian world Mr. West finds himself in. However, the living, social and sexist perspectives were a little more than I can stomach. However, it is always good to hear both sides of an argument and the author definitely lays them out very thoroughly. A thought provoking and entertaining book, I can't believe how long ago it was written and it is still a delightful read. The author even manages to add a sweet and not pathetic love story to the mix, which a surprising and enjoyable side line.
Kyle Perez
I enjoyed reading this novel, as it looked into a possible future where everyone lived comfortably. I found it interesting that the futuristic year of 2000 referred to themselves as the industrial army. Dr. Leete attempted to explain everything to Julian, but when describing society he was able to perfectly put the difference of the time periods into words. He said, "service of the nation, patriotism, passion for humanity, impel the worker as in your day the did the soldier” (93). I would read t I enjoyed reading this novel, as it looked into a possible future where everyone lived comfortably. I found it interesting that the futuristic year of 2000 referred to themselves as the industrial army. Dr. Leete attempted to explain everything to Julian, but when describing society he was able to perfectly put the difference of the time periods into words. He said, "service of the nation, patriotism, passion for humanity, impel the worker as in your day the did the soldier” (93). I would read this book, as it is a very interesting idea of how society could look someday. Also, it is interesting to hear the words of someone from the nineteenth century, and what they look forward to in the future. At times the book could be a bit wordy, but if you are able to get past that you will enjoy it.
Irvin Robles
I particularly did not like the novel too much. I felt like it was a little bit cliche. The plot was certainly interesting at first, but it slowly became very dry and repetitive. The book may not have been my favorite, but it definitely makes some interesting points. I think people should read this novel if they are really into Utopian societies. I enjoyed some of the new ideas that Edward Bellamy had about society and how he pictured it to be. He makes the reader think how interesting it would I particularly did not like the novel too much. I felt like it was a little bit cliche. The plot was certainly interesting at first, but it slowly became very dry and repetitive. The book may not have been my favorite, but it definitely makes some interesting points. I think people should read this novel if they are really into Utopian societies. I enjoyed some of the new ideas that Edward Bellamy had about society and how he pictured it to be. He makes the reader think how interesting it would be to live in a world like that. A reason not to read the novel is that the novel goes through many dry spells and might not be interesting for several pages. I found myself putting down the book multiple times because of how uninteresting it could become. It is also a hard read and could be challenging for some. I had some trouble reading it, but it is certainly a pretty good novel.
Mark
This novel gives an interesting interpretation of what Edward Bellamy believes what the futures should be like. One should read this book because it has a very interesting interpretation on what the future should be. It also tries to excise poverty in the future which is a goal that we should be striving to achieve. It does this by saying "However, the book is very slow paced and the plot is not the best. “That it was equally the duty of every citizen to contribute his quota of industrial or int This novel gives an interesting interpretation of what Edward Bellamy believes what the futures should be like. One should read this book because it has a very interesting interpretation on what the future should be. It also tries to excise poverty in the future which is a goal that we should be striving to achieve. It does this by saying "However, the book is very slow paced and the plot is not the best. “That it was equally the duty of every citizen to contribute his quota of industrial or intellectual services to the maintenance of the nation was equally evident, though it was not until the nation became the employer of labor that citizens were able to render this sort of service with any pretense either of universality or equity,” (70). However, the book is very slow paced and the plot is not the best.
Margaret
Less a novel than an outline for a possible utopian, socialist society, Looking Backward would make a good starting off point for anyone interested in socialism. I also recommend reading The Dispossessed for anyone interested in socialism, particularly after reading Looking Backward. I think it would be interesting to juxtapose the two socialist societies, one in outline, Looking Backward, and the other in fictional practice, The Dispossessed. And Le Guin's utopia considers humanity's failings a Less a novel than an outline for a possible utopian, socialist society, Looking Backward would make a good starting off point for anyone interested in socialism. I also recommend reading The Dispossessed for anyone interested in socialism, particularly after reading Looking Backward. I think it would be interesting to juxtapose the two socialist societies, one in outline, Looking Backward, and the other in fictional practice, The Dispossessed. And Le Guin's utopia considers humanity's failings and capriciousness, making the novel more realistic (and, ultimately, more moving, though these two go well together).
Lauren
Looking Backward was the first book we read in my Dystopian/Utopian/Re-Imagined Pasts class, and was an interesting introduction to the genres our class is centered on.
Many of my classmates found the writing dry, and while I agree to a degree, I still found it enjoyable. Mostly, Bellamy's Utopia, which seemed strangely dystopian. Though everything was meant to be perfect, there were truly very few benefits to living in the society, and it was very structured.
The love story between Julian West Looking Backward was the first book we read in my Dystopian/Utopian/Re-Imagined Pasts class, and was an interesting introduction to the genres our class is centered on.
Many of my classmates found the writing dry, and while I agree to a degree, I still found it enjoyable. Mostly, Bellamy's Utopia, which seemed strangely dystopian. Though everything was meant to be perfect, there were truly very few benefits to living in the society, and it was very structured.
The love story between Julian West and Edith Leete was...a bit strange, considering what we find out about Edith. I tried to not pay too much attention to those parts.
If I could have changed anything, it would be the overuse of dialogue. I understand why, I just got annoyed with it. Oh well! Bellamy's choice, not mine.
Adelaide Mcginnity
The premise is quite interesting, but this book suffers dearly from Bellamy's limitations as a writer and from the hackneyed love story he tries to stick in at the end (I would have given this book 4 stars if not for the last three chapters). Still, on the idea alone, I must recommend Looking Backwards, not because Bellamy is right (though in a way he is; compared to the 1880s, the world we live in today is richer and takes better care of its poor) but because of why Bellamy is wrong. My advice The premise is quite interesting, but this book suffers dearly from Bellamy's limitations as a writer and from the hackneyed love story he tries to stick in at the end (I would have given this book 4 stars if not for the last three chapters). Still, on the idea alone, I must recommend Looking Backwards, not because Bellamy is right (though in a way he is; compared to the 1880s, the world we live in today is richer and takes better care of its poor) but because of why Bellamy is wrong. My advice is to read this book with a keen eye for the Fascist tendencies of the society Bellamy describes, which seems to be full of merry men and woman who wholeheartedly support the world they live in; one wonders where the gulags are that house the dissenters.
Anita Williamson
I gave this book two starts only because there are other books that I have disliked more. I wouldn't call this a book but more of a series of socialist pamphelts bookended by a thinly disguised plot. I thought the end of The Jungle was socialistic but this takes the cake.

That aside the utopian society described would not be as nice as the author describes. I would call it a hell with little to no freedom. There is no freedom to suceed or to fail. Also since the year 2000 has come an past this bo I gave this book two starts only because there are other books that I have disliked more. I wouldn't call this a book but more of a series of socialist pamphelts bookended by a thinly disguised plot. I thought the end of The Jungle was socialistic but this takes the cake.

That aside the utopian society described would not be as nice as the author describes. I would call it a hell with little to no freedom. There is no freedom to suceed or to fail. Also since the year 2000 has come an past this book then becomes another one of the failed utopian stories (e.g. The Handmaid's tale...)

Not worth reading UNLESS you are very interested in the ideas and roots of the Progressive ( Yes-Obama that is you) movement.
Jana
The first thing you should consider by starting to read this book is that it was written in 1887. Then you will realize how incredible this book is. Although it is boring at times since it is just a dialogue, the author manages to represent very idealistic thought of an economically stable future society. Some might thing his ideas to be communistic but at all times he keeps trying to disproof this feeling by always going back to the number one objective - 'The person is the most important.' I r The first thing you should consider by starting to read this book is that it was written in 1887. Then you will realize how incredible this book is. Although it is boring at times since it is just a dialogue, the author manages to represent very idealistic thought of an economically stable future society. Some might thing his ideas to be communistic but at all times he keeps trying to disproof this feeling by always going back to the number one objective - 'The person is the most important.' I recommend this book to anyone that is interested in utopian books. It is the first of the type that has a more positive view. Although it is not the standard sci-fi, it is still impressive to observe how Bellamy forecasts the credit cards, the internet, the life broadcast, and the shopping malls.
Da Gus
The plot of this book isn't the greatest, but the continuing mysterious relationship between Julian West and Edith Leete provides for some motivation to continue reading. While this novel does lack a riveting storyline, the in depth explanations of how Bellamy's utopia operates is very interesting to read. Bellamy explains almost all aspects that could come to mind about his utopia. For example, Bellamy thoroughly explains to the reader through the character of Dr. Leete about the workings of th The plot of this book isn't the greatest, but the continuing mysterious relationship between Julian West and Edith Leete provides for some motivation to continue reading. While this novel does lack a riveting storyline, the in depth explanations of how Bellamy's utopia operates is very interesting to read. Bellamy explains almost all aspects that could come to mind about his utopia. For example, Bellamy thoroughly explains to the reader through the character of Dr. Leete about the workings of the society by utilizing an extended metaphor about how everyone is part of "the industrial army". Overall, I really enjoyed the explanations and found that it gave me a new way to think about how my current society operates.
Lorin Cary
Bellamy's LB is a late nineteenth century (1887) look at an imagined future. Written during the so-called Gilded Age, it posits a coming era devoid of the class conflicts and wealth disparity which divided the US at the time. It is a utopian novel and it is not literary fiction. There are clumps of dialogue which today we would call "reader feeder"---and it's in these bits and in the internals of Julian West who awakes after more than a century "asleep." Every topic of the day is treated and som Bellamy's LB is a late nineteenth century (1887) look at an imagined future. Written during the so-called Gilded Age, it posits a coming era devoid of the class conflicts and wealth disparity which divided the US at the time. It is a utopian novel and it is not literary fiction. There are clumps of dialogue which today we would call "reader feeder"---and it's in these bits and in the internals of Julian West who awakes after more than a century "asleep." Every topic of the day is treated and some of Bellamy's notions about the coming age are quite on-target. Well worth the read, despite sometimes clunky writing. The book, after all, spawned a short-lived social movement, an organization which aimed to bring about the changes Bellamy predicted.
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