The first part inevitably repeats material from the voluminous commentaries on Orwell already in print. But it is freshly and powerfully argued ... The second half of Lynskey’s book is richly informative, surveying the reception of Orwell’s novel decade by decade, and its adaptation ... It makes for an astonishing cultural medley ... Lynskey’s overall admiration is clear, but he sharply criticizes Orwell’s prejudices—his 'kneejerk homophobia' and his 'thoughtless dismissal of feminism' ... If you have even the slightest interest in Orwell or in the development of our culture, you should not miss this engrossing, enlivening book.
...[a] wide-ranging and sharply written new study ... Lynskey largely refrains from participating in the quarrel over Orwell’s and his novel’s true teachings and rightful heirs. If anything, The Ministry of Truth can seem too remote at times from its subject matter. For a 'biography' of 1984, it contains surprisingly little sustained discussion of the work itself, mostly referring to it in brief, though insightful, asides that are dispersed throughout. There could have been more in-depth analysis of the dynamics of power in Orwell’s totalitarian state ... Nor does Lynskey illuminate the literary or intellectual qualities that distinguish Orwell’s novel from its many predecessors and descendants in the dystopian genre. In short, while we learn a great deal about the evolution and influence of 1984 as a cultural phenomenon, we sometimes lose sight, in the thick of Lynskey’s historicizing, of the novel’s intrinsic virtues—of what makes it distinctive and accounts for its terror and fascination in the first place. Lynskey is surely right, however, to note that the meaning of Orwell’s novel has shifted over the decades along with the preoccupations of its readers; and that in our low, dishonest moment, it is 'most of all a defense of truth.'
...[a] highly astute study ... Thoroughly researched and wearing its scholarship lightly, The Ministry of Truth is at its best in some of its pop cultural gleanings ... If Lynskey misses anything, it is a suspicion that Nineteen Eighty-Four’s roots may lie even further back in Orwell’s work. After all, each of his four 1930s novels features a central character ground down and oppressed by a vigilant authority that he or she has no way of resisting.
Unfortunately, despite some key insights and the wealth of history in its pages, this book is not what Orwell’s last and most famous novel deserves. The Ministry of Truth is a superficial, scattered account of the authors and books that provided a context for 1984 and the events that helped make Orwell the artist who could write it, with none of the depth that Orwell, his times, or the novel deserve. Lynskey commands an impressive knowledge of the literary culture of the period, which he puts on full display to provide a sense of the artistic cross-pollination that helped Orwell write his dystopian novel. However Lynskey’s passages on pre-1984 authors and speculative fiction will try the reader’s patience with their length and on occasion their irrelevance ... Lynskey would have done better to write in more detail about the lived experiences that provided Orwell with material for 1984 ... The failures of The Ministry of Truth are doubly frustrating because Lynskey is clearly a talented writer. His chapters on 1984’s life after Orwell’s death...are fascinating. And the parallels he draws between the propaganda of Oceania and the alternative realities created by the Trump administration are truly chilling. Unfortunately the better parts of The Ministry of Truth aren’t enough to redeem its flaws.
The Ministry of Truth addresses 'the political and cultural life of Nineteen Eighty-Four' since Orwell’s death, in scattershot fashion. The problem isn’t Lynskey’s judgments, which are generally sound, but the rambling way he develops them and the odd tangents he wanders into ... Lynskey...muddles some interesting analysis of Orwell’s reclamation by the left with a bewilderingly excessive amount of material about Diamond Dogs [by David Bowie] ... Part Two is a mess; it reads like a magazine article that grew but never matured into a coherent overview of the shifting ramifications of Orwell’s most famous novel ... Despite its faults, Lynskey’s jeremiad remains valuable and terrifying for the blistering spotlight it shines on Orwell’s overriding purpose, defined in its title, The Ministry of Truth.
In The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell's 1984, Londoner Dorian Lynskey explains vividly why Orwell still matters ... The Ministry of Truth is informed by extensive research into both history and pop culture, ranging from the traumas of the 19th and 20th centuries to our present troubled moment, which Orwell’s writings continue to explain and clarify ... Lynskey ... writes engagingly, and makes a persuasive case for Orwell’s contemporary relevance.
The Ministry of Truth: The Biography of George Orwell’s 1984...makes a rich and compelling case for the novel as the summation of Orwell’s entire body of work and a master key to understanding the modern world ...The biographical story of 1984—the dying man’s race against time to finish his novel in a remote cottage on the Isle of Jura, off Scotland—will be familiar to many Orwell readers. One of Lynskey’s contributions is to destroy the notion that its terrifying vision can be attributed to, and in some way disregarded as, the death wish of a tuberculosis patient. In fact, terminal illness roused in Orwell a rage to live ... Lynskey’s account of the reach of 1984 is revelatory. The novel has inspired movies, television shows, plays, a ballet, an opera, a David Bowie album, imitations, parodies, sequels, rebuttals, Lee Harvey Oswald, the Black Panther Party, and the John Birch Society. It has acquired something of the smothering ubiquity of Big Brother himself: 1984 is watching you.
Lynskey’s biography of the book expertly locates Nineteen Eighty-Four in the context of Orwell’s life, evoking the drab deprivations of 1940s Britain. But it’s even better when it explores the universality of the story ... the antecedents and the offspring of Nineteen Eighty-Four occupy almost as much space in this book as the novel itself ... a wonderfully wide-ranging survey ... Lynskey’s is a magnificent piece of work, an informed, intelligent and hugely readable history of past futures as well as a splendid introduction to Orwell.
Dorian Lynskey’s book amounts to a comprehensive survey of the history of utopia and dystopia, centring on Orwell’s immensely influential novel, and it is full of connections that make the reader’s mind spin off in all directions ... There are several biographies of Orwell, and innumerable commentaries on his work...but there is always something new to think or say about him. And in the age of Trump, some Orwellian concepts have taken on a new meaning ... we can’t help treating Orwell as some kind of prophet, and wondering what he would have had to say about Brexit or the rise of religious fundamentalism ... One of his last messages to his publisher, Fredric Warburg, was 'Don’t let it happen, it depends on you'. This thought-provoking book explores the many possibilities of what he may have meant by 'it'.
Orwell was heavily influenced by Wells; Mr. Lynskey gives a poignant account of the aging man of letters dining with the rising star in Orwell’s tiny flat in London in 1941 ... Disappointingly, the section on his modern resonance is the weakest part of Mr. Lynskey’s book. He devotes only a brief passage to the Orwellian echoes in Donald Trump’s presidency ... The obvious implication—that the totalitarian methods chronicled by Orwell 70 years ago are now being recycled by supposed democrats—should concern everyone. But it awaits a more rigorous analysis than the one offered here.
Lynskey’s book is a helpful reminder that the British novelist wrote  with very particular concerns ... The first part of The Ministry of Truth, which addresses the creation of 1984, is lively literary history ... it contextualizes Orwell’s art in a valuable way, encompassing both his life and his library ... The book’s second part, concerning the book’s afterlife, is a quirkier and more skippable work of cultural history, as patchwork as the ways people have responded to Orwell ... Lynskey has more to say about the novel in the context of Bowie and The Lego Movie than, say, North Korea.
What may enchant today's audiences rests in the contemporary reactions to the cautionary tale ... could have revealed much more about 1984 since 1948, as so much of what Lynskey spends the bulk of this content upon is not news to those already in the know ... adds up, therefore, to a useful, if unsurprising, presentation of the popular contexts within which Winston Smith's tragic struggle against Oceania and Big Brother and whomever his regime happens that day to be fighting. It should invite those curious about the contexts to learn more, but specialists and scholars may not be as enticed.
This wide-ranging and thorough study requires a careful and patient reader. Even one familiar with both Orwell's work and early communist and socialist histories will need to read closely. Lynskey offers his own appendix: a chapter-by-chapter précis of 1984, which is recommended for everyone. The requisite attention will be well rewarded, as The Ministry of Truth is not only enthralling and research-rich, but often laugh-out-loud funny ... Lynskey's voice is impassioned and self-aware, and he has an eye for the absurd (as any student of Orwell should) ... The Ministry of Truth is a necessary guide.
While similar in approach to William Steinhoff's George Orwell and the Origins of 1984, this is an important contribution to Orwell studies and a timely introduction to the man and his most famous achievement.
The author tells his vibrant, spirited story of a man and his book in two parts ... Lynskey does a superb job analyzing the young Orwell’s political beliefs, his hatred for fascism, and his 'vision of common-sense radicalism' ... As Lynskey somberly concludes in this fascinating literary history, Nineteen Eighty-Four’s 70th anniversary 'falls at a dark time for liberal democracy.'