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The Octopus: A California Story Paperback – October 25, 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 404 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461072328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461072324
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Literary scholars often debate the existence of the "Great American Novel"--one work of literature that authentically encapsulates the American experience. This mythical work does exist, and has been around for more than a century. It is The Octopus by Frank Norris, originally published in 1901. Based on the real-life incident of the Mussel Slough Tragedy, The Octopus tells the story of a conflict between a group of California wheat ranchers and an all-powerful railroad corporation. Set in the farmlands of Tulare County, California, the novel features an indelible ensemble of characters, among them Magnus Derrick, the elder statesman of impeccable integrity; Buck Annixter, the irascible but good-hearted ranch owner; Hooven, the German immigrant and war veteran; Vanamee, the ascetic drifter and mystical prophet; and Presley, the surrogate for Norris himself, an educated, city-bred poet who immerses himself among these country folk in search of his great, as yet unwritten "Epic of the West." The railroad, not content to gouge the ranchers with their exorbitant shipping rates, sets out to snatch the very land itself. When the ranchers resolve to defend their homes and livelihood, an altercation arises which produces tragic consequences.

The Octopus deserves the designation of Great American Novel not only for its exceptional literary merit, but also because it deals with issues that are quintessentially American--a person's right to own land, the right to derive a living from that land, and conversely, the right to pursue great wealth, even at the expense of others. The scope of the novel encompasses the realms of business, agriculture, the press, the arts, politics, and family. It celebrates the beauty of nature, the triumph of love, and the defiance of the human spirit.
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This book concerns the wheat farmers of the central valley of California and their battle with
the railroad trust at the turn of the century. Together with Norris' "The Pit" it shows how the
great power of the moneyed interests affected the situation of the working classes. The
plot is worthy of five stars, but Norris, even more than in "The Pit", frequently digresses
into romantic and often even mystical reflections which can be difficult for the modern
reader. Still, it is worth the effort.
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I have lived in Ca. All my life and knew very little about the oil business and how it pertained to the people that lived on the land where it was discovered, until I read this book.
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This book is a striking and excellent example of a novel written by by one of the very good "Muckrackers" about the Wheat market, the Railroads, and California at the turn of the 20th century. It is raw, beautiful, and historically significant. This is a good example of one of the books that led to reforms in the arly 20th century. Old books are often forgotten, but good old books are re-read and become classics like this one.
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Not just the railroads versus the farmers,
not just about the overwhelming power of
big Trusts before they were reigned in, but
the story of people in the San Joachim Valley.
The story line survives the killing off of most of the
main characters. In the end, the wheat wins.
Incredible story.
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A well written account of the history of the battle between the ranchers and the railroad, the greed of the railroad and the presumptions of the ranchers led to a confrontation that was probably inevitable. A good read.
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I've been meaning to read this since back in high school when I was told it was "must read" for every Californian. I found it a tough read and often caught myself barely skimming over page after page, especially when it came to the loonnnggg descriptions of the every detail of the women in this. My opinion is there are a lot better books out there, if you have limited reading time, spend it elsewhere.
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Interesting book comparing it with when it was written to current events. Nothing ever changes. It drags in spots and gets a little "preachy". When you read must put in the context of the time that it was written. The impact of the "muckrakers" at the beginning of the 20th Century is not to be overlooked. So take some time and read this book.
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