All that Big Brother talk has '1984' sales spiking

The George Orwell classic has climbed by more than 3,000% on Amazon since the leak about US government surveillance programs.

By Aimee Picchi Jun 11, 2013 1:58PM

An edition of '1984' by George Orwell, right, is displayed among other Penguin books (© Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images)George Orwell's 64-year-old novel "1984" is getting a huge bump in sales after a leak exposed wide-ranging government surveillance efforts last week. 

The classic tale portrays a dystopian future in which the government -- Big Brother -- monitors its citizens via the Thought Police, which "could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to."

As Orwell wrote, "Asleep or awake, working or eating, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or in bed -- no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters inside your skull."

Sound familiar? Apparently it does to many (AMZN) customers, who've bought so many copies of "1984" that it now ranks 194th among all the books it sells. That's a jump of more than 3,300% during the past 24 hours, according to the site.

Many people are alarmed over news that the National Security Agency has been monitoring data not only from Verizon Communications (VZ) but also from online giants such as Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO), as MSN Money reported last week.

With all the disclosures -- courtesy of former Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) employee Edward Snowden -- Americans might not be blamed for turning to "1984," although it's unlikely they'll find any solace there. Its main character, Winston Smith, ends up broken and devoted to the totalitarian government.

Orwell would have been alarmed by the kind of spying disclosed through Snowden's leaks, National Public Radio reports. "Throwing out such a broad net of surveillance is exactly the kind of threat Orwell feared," Michael Shelden, the author of "Orwell: The Authorized Biography," said. 

Even though many people consider Orwell's vision paranoid, it turned out that the British spy agency MI5 had tracked the writer from 1929 until he died in 1950. 

President Barack Obama on Friday defended the NSA program, saying he believes the government had "struck the right balance." But pointing to the threat of war or terrorism as a justification for spying concerned Orwell. 

"He could see that war and defeating an enemy could be used as a reason for increasing political surveillance," Shelden said. "You were fighting a never-ending war that gave you a never-ending excuse for looking into people's lives." That sounds as much like today's real world as the fictional one Orwell was conjuring in 1949.

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi

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Jun 11, 2013 2:59PM

"President Barack Obama on Friday defended the NSA program"


What did anyone expect him to say?........ "Sorry for infringing on your rights"

Jun 11, 2013 3:17PM
President Barack Obama on Friday defended the NSA program, saying he believes the government had struck the right balance "." But pointing to the threat of war or terrorism as a justification for spying concerned Orwell.

Spoken like the true Statist that he really is. The military industrial complex rolling like the Ministry of Peace in 1984. Always waging war or fabricating reasons why to engage in war or occupy countries for the sake of Democracy(yeah, right). He is nothing more than GWB squared, even worse.There is no right balance. There never will be. This is 'newspeak' because there will be infinite reasons why they need to keep the program running as time lapses. They will find reasons why to either keep or expand the program. This very Orwellian, in an essence this gov't program is the 'Thought Police' in it's infancy.  There is a reason why our founding fathers built the bill of rights into the fabric of our Constitution, to keep things like this from happening.

”People willing to trade their freedom for temporary security deserve neither and will lose both.”
-Benjamin Franklin
Jun 11, 2013 3:15PM
obama sold his soul to the banksters. next time you want to get real change, end the fed. vote ron paul. otherwise, the supression of the middle class continues.
Jun 11, 2013 3:16PM
The libs hated it in 2001 and the cons hate it in 2013.  I wish you people could get your outrage straight.  Nothing has changed.  "They" were spying on us then and "they" still are.  The lib says it is ok now but it was evil then.
Jun 11, 2013 3:35PM

Please don't post anything here.  You will be tracked.



Jun 11, 2013 4:03PM
You're not paranoid if it turns out that your fears were justified...
Jun 11, 2013 4:07PM
Jun 11, 2013 3:35PM
How can people be shocked about this since this is first, Hardly New News and Second, been around since at least, after 9/11. All the Major Carriers had Government Terminals for traffic wiretapping installed going back to around 2003. Since this was Big News then, how is anyone really shocked that places like Google and Yahoo are also involved. People have been talking about key trigger words for Years yet only now it gets Press due to some traitor to the Chinese?

Key points: Bush signed a Executive Order to allow warrant-less snooping years ago. Both Parties continued to sign off on warrant-less snooping year after year so I don't want to hear anyone of them claim they didn't read the stinking Bills. This makes two major policy issues Obama has reversed course on, letting all the Bush Tax Cuts Expire and his stance on Snooping. Obama can't be trusted no more than we could trust Bush. In fact, no President nor Congress can be trusted with such warrant-less powers.

Jun 11, 2013 4:40PM

Nothing new, remember the movie, "Enemy of the State"?


Recent presidents been using the FBI, IRS or other government agencies against whoever/whatever they perceive as an opponent/enemy.


As for all those who are OK with this, Ben Franklin had it right way back when :


"Those who give up freedom for security deserve neither." 

Jun 11, 2013 3:49PM

Let`s not forget the Patroitic took away a lot of our rights.Big brother has been watching

for a long time.

Jun 11, 2013 4:59PM
Gosh --- that whack job --- Ron Paul --- what has he been saying for 40 years now ?
Jun 11, 2013 3:45PM
I know that by now, everyone has forgotten all the fear-mongering that was daily right after 9/11. Some folks were to the point of actually thinking the World was About to End. Red alerts, Yellow alerts, all over a group of folks that couldn't field a Army to defeat squat. Top folks in the Global Governments seem to be setting the Stage for a One World Government. All via the excuse of protecting us from Global Terrorism. I strongly suspect it's to mask the ongoing Global Governments Real Intent concerning the vast majority of people in this World. People will become just another bought and sold commodity globally and we are doing nothing to stop it.
Jun 11, 2013 5:00PM

Has the Lame Brain Media stopped sucking at the A-hole of this administration????   Are they going to start being Investigating Journalists again or still just be some college brain washed Idiots sucking at the Demo/repub $hit Bucket that POL-LIE-TITIONS feed them  and believe that Big Government is the best government.  Unchecked by the press any government will become corrupt and want power and longevity to stay in power. If you don't believe that look at the last election for President, Money spent billions. 

      If you give up your freedom for a governments promise of free stuff, and utopia than you deserve what you get.  The government says that 11 million Illegal's should be granted amnesty>

         Why? they have broken our laws.  If i break the law I go to jail, if I go to Mexico Illegally they will put me in jail because I broke their law.  OUR GOVERNMENT  HAS SLOWLY GAVE AWAY THIS COUNTRY, AND FOR WHAT????   YOUR VOTE, THEIR VOTE AND TO STAY IN CONTROL AND POWER, THAT'S WHY. 

Jun 11, 2013 4:53PM

Many have cheered as big brother has gained strength. He knows what is good for us and can gauge our importance in relation to the common good. He knows better than we what we should do and when we should do it. There's a monster on the loose, he's got our heads into the noose and he just sits there watching...

Jun 11, 2013 3:57PM


"The art of leadership...consists in consolidating the attention of the people against a single adversary and taking care that nothing will split up that attention."

Jun 11, 2013 5:33PM
I remember as a kid living overseas when my dad was stationed overseas (US Air Force) in the 1960's to be careful about what you say on the phone you could be monitored by us or them. When I myself was stationed overseas (US Army) my chain of command during in briefings warned us to be careful what we say on the phone you could be monitored which I also had to tell my wife. The only thing that has changed is the advances in technology. Not only does the government do it but also corporations, banks, stores, press etc. To believe you have privacy while talking on a phone, cell phone, watching television is to believe you have total privacy while in a mall with 100 + shoppers around you. When people that live in a foreign country know when you purchased a car, television, oven and know where and when you bought it we do have a problem its called not realistically realizing we do not live in a private society. When your personal information is sold all over the world by banks, and corporations it looks like spying and monitoring isn't only a government problem it is a problem period regardless of who does it. When you talk on that cell phone remember there are about 100 million people using the same satellite your using to talk on. If you want privacy do a face to face conversation if it  is that important because on the public airwaves there is no privacy the key word being (public). 
Jun 11, 2013 6:34PM

When I was young there was  a story of a horse that wanted to get rid of other horse because it will eat in same pasture and compete for sex. Man offered to help. Long story short, horse ended up being slave to a man with no freedom at all except man grants him.


We fear so much that we end up being slave and deprived of all our privacy. We gave up all the privacy for those factors that has least probability of harming us, terrorism. Neighborhood crooks may be 10,000 more likely to kill or hurt or rob you than any so called terrorist.


We are slave by our own fears.

Jun 11, 2013 3:11PM
Wow...why don't people just pick up the Bible, it will tell much more, has NEVER been inaccurate!
Jun 11, 2013 7:45PM

About 10 years ago, I took a city bus tour of London and we passed by the old home of George Orwell.  The tour guide said that within a 1 mile radius of old George's home, there were about 250 CCTV cameras.  At the time, London was the most surveilled city in the world.


I waiting until l got home before posting this.  They track us at work.


                                                                         - Winston Smith


Jun 11, 2013 6:20PM
Looks to me like there should be a way to make a buck selling random shift cipher systems. Wouldn't that chap the NSA if EVERYBODY started putting their e-mails through a random shift cipher before sending.
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