I'm glad I read the introduction to Animal Farm by George Orwell. I learned a lot about him and the background to this book that I wouldn't have otherwise known. I'm SURE I would have misunderstood the book if I were to just read it without having the background. I would have understood that it was a satire on Stalinism/Communism but I wouldn't have known or understood that Orwell was actually liberal and wasn't anti-socialism, but just critical of how it was implemented at that time in the Soviet Union.
I also found it interesting that Orwell referred to the story as a fairy tale. It can be read on the surface as a story of animals running a farm. I did that reading Lord of the Flies in high school. I just didn't get what the whole big deal was! I also liked how simple the language and story were. It was very straightforward describing events as they happened with not much character development. Not that you need much when the leading characters are pigs, I suppose.