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

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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: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,108,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Karl Janssen on October 5, 2012
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By amelia toporovich on January 16, 2014
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 20, 2013
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DavidI on October 20, 2013
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By tarheel on August 24, 2013
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Gortner on July 2, 2013
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Too much purple prose - too wordy and very difficult to get past all the long winded description that does not really add to the story
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Douglas B. Nurock on August 16, 2013
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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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By kpcat on February 19, 2014
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I didn't finish the book. I was disappointed in the amateurish writing, and the excess trivia. Written as a novel, it seemed to be an insult to non-fiction. Maybe someone else will enjoy it, but I had to move on to some other book.
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