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America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
This 400+ page collection also has seven thematic chapters that explore Steinbeck's nonfiction and journalistic writing in these topic areas: places he loved, socio-political struggles, the craft of writing, friends and friendship, travel abroad, being a war correspondent, and miscellanea. This is great bedside reading: something delicious to dip into, eloquent and thoughtful, and one can jump around.
The editors are both noted Steinbeck scholars who are making this man accessible to the common people (we, the salt of the earth, whom he champions and celebrates in so many of his writings). Perhaps I am partial to John Steinbeck because I live in "Steinbeck Country," but I still think his works deserve our attention and study in the 21st century. He had a lot of significant insights--this book is a wonderful follow-up for those who have only yet experienced his fiction.
Always he wrote about his impressions, primarily of people. The best pieces in this collection are not accounts of foreign wars but of people in distinct places. Like Steinbeck's life, the book begins with Salinas, California, continues through San Francisco and New York City to Sag Harbor on Long Island, where Steinbeck lived in the 1950s and 60s. In the "Journalist Abroad" section there are strong pieces on people in Positano and Ireland. And there is a section on friends (all male, of course) including a long memoir of his idol and naturalist mentor, Ed Ricketts, and short but very illuminating memoirs of the popular WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle and the photographer Robert Capa (who accompanied Steinbeck on his Russian visit), plus concise tributes to Adlai Stevenson as an orator and to Henry Fonda as an actor.
The section "On writing" is regrettably short, and the selections of WWII colums from _Once There Was a War_ (a book which is in print) are mystifyingly missing the best ones, which Steinbeck wrote during the invasion of Italy. The Vietnam reports are unconvincing propaganda from what he presented as a war against Mao. (Brezhnev, perhaps, but not Mao!)
Many of the pieces are entertaining in the mock heroic Steinbeck manner of _Tortilla Flat_ and _Travels with Charley_ and some are moving. The text "America and Americans" had little impact.Read more ›
Among the best pieces in this book are "I Am A Revolutionary," "The Soul and Guts of France" and "Terrorism." Aside from these three pieces - and a paragraph or two scattered here and there among some of the others - this book consists of fairly slow, relatively uninteresting and disappointingly uninsightful text. Still, it's Steinbeck, and if you've a big fan, then reading even his mediocre work is more fun than most things you could be doing with your time. Otherwise though, if you have a mere passing interest in Steinbeck or have not read the other works mentioned above, then either read his other material first or just forget about this book altogether.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Most of the stories are really interesting. It helps if you've read his other stuff first as many of the short stories are almost background research or related notes and... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Give It To Mikey
It's amplified Steinbeck. What else can one say? Beautifully written non-fiction essays with Steinbeck's beloved style and usual liberal slant. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Nancy Talbot Doty
My daughter-in-law passed this book out at Christmas and when we get together (seven of us) for Sunday dinner we've used this as our "Book Club" discussion. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Debe W. Stattmiller
A must read; particularly if you grew up in the 50's - 90'sPublished 19 months ago by Murray McComas
This was a gift for my son for Christmas. Steinbeck is one of his favorite authors so I'm sure he will enjoy it.Published 24 months ago by comet
As I near the goal of reading all of the books by the author who has become my favorite, John Steinbeck, I turn to "America and Americans," a picture book accompanied by nine... Read morePublished on April 26, 2013 by Tom Bruce
If you enjoy Steinbeck's insight of people and places or are a history buff this is the read for you.Published on August 21, 2012 by Bob Hume