Alok Rai recognises that George Orwell was both a political writer and a literary artist, and that any adequate study must do justice to both aspects of his work. Drawing on a wide range of Orwell's writing, including unpublished and previously unused material, Rai charts his progression from rebellion through reconciliation to despair. Making use of the insights of contemporary critical theory, he demystifies the idea of Orwell as a 'transparent' writer, simply concerned with basic human values, and by means of close reading relates the literary style to the political beliefs, asking how a writer who is, from one perspective, a relatively minor talent, can come to occupy such a culturally central position. Rai's discussion reopens the question of the nature and necessity of Cold War attitudes and perceptions, and examines the ideological apparatus of the Cold War consensus, of which Orwell was an influential guarantor. He discusses Orwell's changing attitude to participation in the Second World War, and looks at his relation to post-War social democracy. Finally, he recognises Orwell's international perspective, showing that for him the world did not stop at the Elbe, nor even at Suez.