RADIO SIMON ROUND
AMERICAN author Jack London’s 1902 book, People of the Abyss, about the poor of the East End, was shocking, powerful and influenced many, including George Orwell.
More than a century later, historian Dan Cruickshank traced London’s footsteps. There is plenty in the pages of London’s book which resonates in the 21st century, but one of the most astonishing things, we learned, was what he failed to mention.
Historian Jerry White commented that: “Anyone coming to east London in 1902 would have been astonished at the extent of Jewish immigration”. But from London there was not a word about the teeming mass of humanity from eastern Europe. Neither was there any mention of the raging immigration debate.
Yet London was not ignorant of Jews. He was in love with an American Jewish intellectual, Anna Strunsky but married another woman, possibly because, like Hitler, he was a believer in eugenics. For what it is worth, Cruickshank maintained that London, who veered from socialism to fascism, was on the side of the angels.