This book struck me on a number of levels. As a travel diary, which is how I preferred to read it, it was more relatable than many I have read. I'll not pretend to be in circumstances nearly as dire as those portrayed, but I'm closer to that than I am the books of other successful writers. Hemingway's Paris was populated with Picasso, Fitzgerald, Stein; Kerouac's road trips were spent visiting Ginsburg and Burroughs; Orwell spent his days with anonymous tramps and the working poor; persons of no notable fame: Boris, Paddy Jacques, Bozo, et al. Though much of it is only apparent in retrospect, their worlds seem bound for greatness, where Orwell's world is full of uncertainty. As social commentary, it is revealing and not moralizing. His portrayal of poverty in France and England seeks to humanize, not victimize, and to bring about some honest reflection to real problems. Unfortunately, for the many improvements that have come, the image of the poor among a large and significant part of the population as inveterate scoundrels, bent on defrauding the good, honest people for free money, remains. There are short chapters laying things out in direct terms-that we only find solutions when we start seeing the poor as people and look for solutions rather than punishments-but most of the book is really just a journey in the part of the world in which most of us hope to never reside.