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The Grapes of Wrath (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century) Paperback – February 1, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0140281620 ISBN-10: 0140281622 Edition: Great Books

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Great Books edition (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140281622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140281620
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #179,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When The Grapes of Wrath was published in 1939, America, still recovering from the Great Depression, came face to face with itself in a startling, lyrical way. John Steinbeck gathered the country's recent shames and devastations--the Hoovervilles, the desperate, dirty children, the dissolution of kin, the oppressive labor conditions--in the Joad family. Then he set them down on a westward-running road, local dialect and all, for the world to acknowledge. For this marvel of observation and perception, he won the Pulitzer in 1940.

The prize must have come, at least in part, because alongside the poverty and dispossession, Steinbeck chronicled the Joads' refusal, even inability, to let go of their faltering but unmistakable hold on human dignity. Witnessing their degeneration from Oklahoma farmers to a diminished band of migrant workers is nothing short of crushing. The Joads lose family members to death and cowardice as they go, and are challenged by everything from weather to the authorities to the California locals themselves. As Tom Joad puts it: "They're a-workin' away at our spirits. They're a tryin' to make us cringe an' crawl like a whipped bitch. They tryin' to break us. Why, Jesus Christ, Ma, they comes a time when the on'y way a fella can keep his decency is by takin' a sock at a cop. They're workin' on our decency."

The point, though, is that decency remains intact, if somewhat battle-scarred, and this, as much as the depression and the plight of the "Okies," is a part of American history. When the California of their dreams proves to be less than edenic, Ma tells Tom: "You got to have patience. Why, Tom--us people will go on livin' when all them people is gone. Why, Tom, we're the people that live. They ain't gonna wipe us out. Why, we're the people--we go on." It's almost as if she's talking about the very novel she inhabits, for Steinbeck's characters, more than most literary creations, do go on. They continue, now as much as ever, to illuminate and humanize an era for generations of readers who, thankfully, have no experiential point of reference for understanding the depression. The book's final, haunting image of Rose of Sharon--Rosasharn, as they call her--the eldest Joad daughter, forcing the milk intended for her stillborn baby onto a starving stranger, is a lesson on the grandest scale. "'You got to,'" she says, simply. And so do we all. --Melanie Rehak --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Journey with the Joads for 21 hours in this first unabridged version of Steinbeck's classic. Controversial, even shocking, when it was written, the work continues to be so even today. The keen listener can hear why, because it poses fundamental questions about justice, the ownership and stewardship of the land, the role of government, power, and the very foundations of capitalist society. As history, this brings the Dust Bowl years to life in a most memorable way. Steinbeck (Travels with Charley, Audio Reviews, LJ 11/15/94) is a master storyteller and manages to engage the listener's sympathy with this epic story. Reader Dylan Baker, who gives each character a distinctive voice, draws the listener in. His female characters, especially the minor ones and Rose of Sharon, don't seem as authentic as his wonderful evocation of the fictional Tom, Ma, and Pa. But his voice is easy to listen to, and he is faithful to the characters' backgrounds and the plains region. The music that ends each individual tape is perfect for the story. This program is a well-produced, affordable, and worthwhile addition for any library with a serious audiobook collection.?Nancy Paul, Brandon P.L., WI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I thought The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck was one of the absolute best books I have ever read.
Swubird
I love old stories, because somehow you would feel like you knew how this book would end, but would want to continue reading to make sure.
Lynda J Fernandez
The story itself tells of the Joad family and their honesty, wisdom, pain, courage, compassion, and their will to survive.
Richard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

353 of 377 people found the following review helpful By Twohounds on June 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I can't remember the last time I was moved so profoundly by a work of fiction. I finished the book two weeks ago and have not been able to stop talking or thinking about it. Read this book. It will truly change the way you view the world.

The book is beautifully written. Steinbeck's style flows so smoothly and is so accessible. The book follows the Joad family for about nine months as they are driven from the place they've called home for generations and travel to California, only to find out that it is not the land of opportunity they expected. Steinbeck's formula here is to intersperse the lengthy chapters chronicling the Joads' journey with short chapters that encapsulate some nuance about the period or the people, giving you a picture of the greater struggle taking place, of which the Joads are just a small part. It creates a very powerful effect. This migration west involved hundreds of thousands of individuals. You see in a few pages the big picture, then you are pulled back into the intimacies of the Joads' lives and the tragedy is made very personal. In one especially startling example, Steinbeck puts these words into the mouth of a character after selling a nameless migrant and his family some gas for their car, "Well, you and me got sense. Them goddamn Okies got no sense and no feeling. They ain't human. A human being wouldn't live like they do. A human being couldn't stand it to be so dirty and miserable. They ain't a hell of a lot better than gorillas." In the next chapter, the Joads make camp along a stream and Ma is so happy for the clean water and the chance to stay put for a day so that she can take a bath and wash the family's clothes.
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117 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Martin on February 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I don't know how anyone could read this book and not give it a five star rating. The true test for me of a "great book" is one that stays with me -- one I can't stop thinking about long after I've finished. I read this book for the second time in my life a month ago (first time was in high school many years ago), and I'm still haunted by the suffering endured by the Joad family. The interesting thing is that Steinbeck wrote this book in 1939 at the height of the injustices being fraught upon the migrant workers in California. I'm sure it wasn't popular then as it brought to the forefront the corruption of some powerful people in America. It also spoke to the conscience of every American which eventually led to political reform in California. After reading this book, I did some research into Steinbeck's motivation and learned that he was haunted by the plight of California's migrant workers to the point of obsession. To fuel his anger, he would visit the migrant camps each day full of their dirt, disease and hungry people and then return home to write about those people responsible for these conditions -- people he considered to be murderers.
Steinbeck concentrated on the circumstances of one family, The Joads, tenant farmers in Oklahoma until they were forced out by the larger companies who wanted their land back. With dreams of luscious grapes and peaches in abundance waiting to be picked, they loaded up their belongings and began their journey on Route 66 headed for Bakersfield, California. They began their trip with a bevy of colorful characters led by Ma and Pa Joad. It's amazing how much power Steinbeck gave to Ma Joad -- years before women had any right to a voice. Unfortunately, just as the Joads were heading out, so were thousands upon thousands of other families.
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126 of 140 people found the following review helpful By oh_pete on July 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have never read a better novel written by an American than THE GRAPES OF WRATH. Steinbeck's deeply touching tale of displaced families and a nation rent by Depression will never cease to be relevant.
The Joads and thousands of others are driven out of Oklahoma by drought and the Depression. It is bad enough they lose their farms to homes and have to move. It is worse that the big business fruit growers in California print misleading flyers claiming to have far more well-paying jobs available than they ever intended to have. It is miserable when they get to California (where the people curse them as "Okies") and find out that as few as one man owns as much a million acres--much of it lying fallow in front of their eyes.
As difficult as the plight of the Joads and families like them, Steinbeck does not paint the Californians or their police as evil so much as scared into treachery and violence in order to protect their own. No one wants to starve and starvation after the dust bowl and thanks to the exploitative wages paid by the vineyard owners is a very real possibility. Nor does he canonize the migrants--the societies that grow up by the side of the road each night have their own laws and lawbreakers, stout hearts and slatterns--but does show them as civilized people who don't deserve being treated like animals. Many fearful Californians don't agree.
Steinbeck's character Tom Joad (whose ghost lives on in a Bruce Springsteen's song recently covered by Rage Against the Machine) is as important to American literature as Huckleberry Finn, Holden Caulfield and Jay Gatsby. Joad knows life offers no simple solutions, but he also knows that fair is fair.
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